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Press Releases 2013

IRC form guide - 300 boats fight for the Fastnet Challenge Cup

Ran 2 in RORC600. Photo: Tim WrightWhile the headline grabbing big boats may romp away come Sunday's start of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the world's largest offshore yacht race, a longer more intricate battle will play out between the 300 boats competing for the handicap prize, the Fastnet Challenge Cup, for the winner under IRC rating.

This year there is one obvious favourite. Niklas Zennström's Judel Vrolijk 72 Rán 2 is run with all the precision of an America's Cup team and the result has been her winning the last two Rolex Fastnet Races. The team is gunning to claim it a third time and if this pans out, Rán 2 will become the first boat to win three times in a row.

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Royal Ocean Racing Club selects Inmarsat as communications partner for Rolex Fastnet Race

Inmarsat in use onboard La Réponse. Photo: Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.comThe Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), organiser of the Rolex Fastnet Race, has selected Inmarsat, the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, as its satellite communications partner for the 2013 race, which starts on Sunday 11th August.

Inmarsat's FleetBroadband service will be provided via RORC to eight boats in the Rolex Fastnet Race. The iconic 88 year old event is considered one of the world's classic offshore races, which tests both the inshore and offshore skills of competitors.

By using Inmarsat's global mobile satellite fleet, the eight yachts will be able to provide the RORC with an on-going flow of video, audio and social media content. This will make the challenging event accessible to journalists and sailing enthusiasts across the world. A ninth yacht will be using IsatPhone Pro, Inmarsat's rugged, global handheld satellite phone, for communication and media purposes.

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Clash of the Titans

Esimit Europa 2. Photo:Rolex/Kurt ArrigoWhile the Rolex Fastnet Race's top prize is the Fastnet Challenge Cup and Rolex chronometer for the first of the 302 boats competing under IRC Rating, another significant battle will be between the most high profile monohulls and multihulls, gunning for line honours into Plymouth.

Leading the charge among this year's record breaking entry (currently standing at 350 in total) will be two of the world's fastest offshore racing monohulls, the maxis Esimit Europa 2 and Mike Slade's ICAP Leopard. Of these the European-flagged Esimit Europa 2 is the clear favourite: Both boats are fitted with canting keels and are 100ft long, but she is some 40% lighter than ICAP Leopard.

However Esimit Europa 2's skipper, German three time Olympic medallist Jochen Schümann, observes that the 100ft maxis don't have the greatest record on this course. Rambler 100 broke her keel and capsized just after rounding the Fastnet Rock in 2011 while, in her previous life as Neville Crichton's Alfa Romeo, Esimit Europa 2 was forced to pull out while leading the 2007 race.

"We are unbeatable unless we break the boat," admits Schümann, adding that Esimit Europa 2's ideal conditions are light to medium. "From 12-14 knots we are fully loaded and then we start reefing and slowing down the boat. In more wind than that the VO70s could be faster reaching or downwind than we are. In heavy breeze, it will be a really tough competition."

Schümann competed in the Rolex Fastnet Race during the 1990s aboard the ILC40 Aerosail and on the IMS50 Rubin XV. He is a big fan of the event: "350 boats - it is great. It shows what sailing can provide from racing to cruising, big boats to smaller boats. Only the very best boats and crews can win, but it is good to have such a strong competition in terms of numbers."

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Rolex Fastnet Race - a Truly International Challenge

2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Handicap Winner - Geoff Boettcher's Secret Men's Business 3.5 (AUS). Photo: Rolex/Carlo BorlenghiThe biggest and best offshore racing boats from around the world will be descending on the Solent for the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race, beginning from Cowes on Sunday, 11th August. At present the tally for the Royal Ocean Racing Club's flagship event, the world's largest offshore yacht race, stands at a record breaking 351. Of these 47 are in the 'non-IRC classes' including the multihulls, Class 40s and IMOCA 60s while the remaining 304 are gunning for the overall IRC prizes of the Fastnet Challenge Trophy and a Rolex chronometer.

Impressively this year one third of the fleet, 119 boats, are from overseas.

The boat having travelled furthest is Geoff Boettcher's Secret Men's Business 3.5, from Adelaide in South Australia. The 3.5 refers to how the boat's original hull was chopped away from the deck, and somehow replaced with an upgraded design four foot longer, now up to 51ft. This dramatic modification worked, for in 2010 she won the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Boettcher admits this will be his first Rolex Fastnet Race, although several of his crew, including Will Best and Andy Mieklejohn are old hands. "I did the Etchell Worlds there in 1996 and I have been saving up ever since!" he quips of his return to the UK.

Secret Men's Business 3.5 rates well under IRC and is expected to be a strong contender for the overall IRC prize. Boettcher says she is more 'offshore orientated' than the TP52s she regularly races against. As to how the Fastnet Race stacks up against the Rolex Sydney-Hobart, he hedges: "I'm sure it won't be a walk in the park. I've heard mixed reactions... I gather it is 20 miles shorter."

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Rolex Fastnet Race Records

Rolex Fastnet Race RecordsThe start of the 45th Rolex Fastnet Race is less than a month away. The provisional entry list stands at 380 yachts, of which a remarkable 340 are eligible for the top prize - the Fastnet Challenge Trophy and Rolex Chronometer for winning overall. This year's race looks well set to far outstrip the previous highest entry of 315, and, in this regard alone, the 2013 Rolex Fastnet will add considerable lustre to its already polished status in sport. A glance through the entries suggests that an outstanding race is in prospect. The diverse, international fleet challenging the 608-nm course is brimming with talent throughout the size ranges.

When the biennial race organized by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) sets off from Cowes on 11 August, eyes will naturally be drawn to the expected front-runners. Spectators will be rewarded with a feast, given the mix of awe-inspiring monohull and multihull might taking part.

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