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Press Releases 2011

Extreme Ocean Rower Exchanges Oars for Sails

Record holding ocean rower, Elin Haf Davies Record holding ocean rower, Elin Haf Davies is turning her hand to offshore sailing in the Rolex Fastnet Race this year.

For the seasoned sailor, this race is an opportunity to take on one of the biggest offshore classics in the world of yacht racing. For an ocean-rower without any sailing experience like Elin Haf Davies from North Wales, it will be a challenge of huge proportions.

Luckily, Elin is in good hands as under the command of RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine, she will join forces with his experienced crew in his Beneteau First 40, La Réponse. Elin is no stranger to the ocean and adventure however having rowed across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

In 2007, she rowed across the Atlantic Ocean completing 2552 miles in a 24 foot boat in an all female pair. Dubbed the 'Nautical Nurses', the journey took 77 days 7 hours and 37 minutes. The girls conquered 40ft waves, scorching heat and narrow misses with cargo ships. Elin landed in Antigua to become the first Welsh woman to ever row across the Atlantic Ocean.

14 months later, Elin joined team 'Ocean Angels' to set a world record by becoming the first all-female crew to row 3139 miles across the Indian Ocean - taking 78 days, 15 hours and 54 minutes. The girls were battered by the elements, faced heavy storms that broke vital equipment and injured one of the crew, but continued on their quest blessed with an amazing team spirit.

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Fastnet Veteran Makes it 27!

Fastnet Veteran Ken Newman. Photo: Rolex/Carlo BorlenghiFew competitors taking part in this year's Rolex Fastnet Race will have as much experience as Ken Newman. He will be competing in his 27th Fastnet Race with the Swan 46, Marinero. He explains why he keeps coming back for more!

"Looking back over the years and having competed in innumerable long distance ocean races, for me the Fastnet is the best event in the racing calendar. It's like four or five races put together, each one requiring difficult tactical decisions to be made. The crucial components are a well-found boat, a competent crew, safety and sea-room. The ability to get along with others is key to a successful race. I mostly sleep at the nav. station and remember being woken up at change of watch by the laughter going on between the crew, great guffaws of laughter and I thought well, this is what it's all about, that's the sort of camaraderie that I've been privileged to know. I'm a very, very lucky man...if you want to learn about someone, take them sailing," says Newman.

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Rolex Fastnet Race - Fast Approaching

Niklas Zennstroem's Ran rounding the Fastnet rock in 2009. Photo: Rolex/Carlo BorlenghiThe waiting is nearly over: the 44th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race, one of the great ocean challenges, is exactly a month away. With a staggering 350 entrants at the ready, 1979's record-breaking tally of 303 participating yachts will almost certainly be surpassed. The sheer size of the fleet is impressive, its quality and diversity quite breathtaking. Inspiring and exhilarating in equal measure, there is every reason to believe that the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race will maintain the event's pioneering and prestigious tradition.

The numbers game

Due to the Rolex Fastnet's unique allure, event organisers the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) never have any difficulty ensuring that there is a large and impressive fleet in attendance. This year is no exception. Entries came in thick and fast and were closed within ten days of opening in January. However, the requests kept arriving. After being inundated with additional enquiries from the Volvo Open 70s, the IMOCA 60s, Class 40s and Multihulls to join the 608-nautical mile marathon, the RORC adjusted the entry limit to allow these `professional' classes to be counted above the initial cut-off mark.

The Rolex Fastnet Race commences from Cowes on Sunday 14 August (the first signal sounds at 10:50 BST). Whilst crews with the ambition of being the fastest to the finish will hope to spend only one or two nights at sea, spare a thought for those at the back of the pack, for whom a near week in often punishing waters may be the order of the day.

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Past winners Return

Piet Vroon. Photo: Paul Wyeth pwpictures.comTonnerre de Breskens (NED)

Piet Vroon has been racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club since the 1950's and at 81 years young, he is probably the oldest competitor in the race. As skipper of Tonnerre de Breskens, Piet has enjoyed tremendous success. However, the Fastnet Trophy eluded him for nearly half a century before he finally won it in 2001. Since 1955, Piet has only failed to go around the Fastnet Rock on two occasions, once when the yacht was dismasted and secondly to attend his mother's funeral:

"It is a very hard race to win overall," commented Piet. "First of all you have to have a good boat and crew but also you need to have the same wind as everybody else. Often the bigger boats get different weather to the rest, so it makes it much harder to win with a smaller boat. If we all get the same weather, then everybody has a chance. Last time was the first Rolex Fastnet with the new boat and we were second in our class. However, we would like to do better than that this year, we know the boat a lot more, we have better sails and a good crew, so I have high hopes for the race. At my age, I am old enough to be the grandfather of all of the competitors but there comes a time when I have to stop, so I will enjoy this one as if it is my last."

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Two’s Company: Large Two Handed Fleet

Nick Martin's J/105, Diablo-J Photo: Peter Mumford/Beken of CowesTwo-Handed racing has seen a rise in popularity in offshore racing and the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race certainly reflects this with 31 entries this year. Nick Martin, RORC Rear Commodore will compete in his 5th Fastnet with his J/105, Diablo-J, four of which have been Two-Handed. Diablo-J is currently at the top of the RORC Season's Points Championship leaderboard in this class:

"We've all been inspired by the great solo sailors of our time and RORC's Two-Handed Class continues to support and provide the opportunity for many of us, typically corinthian sailors with full-time careers, to experience challenging and adventurous competitive racing. An extensive program allows us to pitch ourselves against IRC boats of all classes, both Two-Handed and fully crewed alike. It's highly rewarding, especially when you finish ahead of fully-crewed boats," explains Nick. "It is the dream of many sailors to qualify & compete in the Rolex Fastnet Race, so to achieve this in arguably the most challenging class, can be regarded as a pinnacle for many. It's fantastic that we have attracted a large fleet this year and in my opinion, this has become the most competitive of all fleets."

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