Rolex Fastnet Race Minisite
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The Early Years

The Fastnet race was now firmly established by the 1930's after running races for several years with fluctuating numbers. The 1930 race saw six American and two French yachts competing alongside the nine British entries.

The early Fastnets saw a high proportion of yachts failing to complete the course. This was mainly due to the toughness of the course, inexperienced crews, old, slow and ill-equipped yachts and the traditional designs of the British yachts lagged behind their fellow competitors from across the pond. Bad weather was also a dominant factor and the 1931 Fastnet saw gale force conditions and many problems for participating yachts, with one person being lost overboard. The tragedy marred what otherwise would have been a classic Fastnet, as the four leading yachts raced the last miles in close company and finished within minutes of one another.

This race was also the end of an era for Jolie Brise who were outclassed by the new yachts now taking part in the race. It was at this time that the British were persuaded to build several new yachts in order to keep the Fastnet race alive and several new competitive yachts were produced to meet the American challenge and to race in the 1935 Transatlantic race.

It was not until 1957 however that the Admiral's Cup was introduced. As a private challenge by five well-known British yachtsmen to their American counterparts, the Challenge consisted of a series of races which included the Fastnet as the final race. The Admiral's Cup soon became known as the most hotly competed ocean racing event in the world and the Fastnet as one of the toughest ocean racing challenges. The 1927, 1930, 1949 and 1957 races went down on record as being the toughest Fastnets ever. In 1957 there were 29 retirements from the fleet of 41 yachts. Two years later the Admiral's Cup was thrown open to teams from all nations and the Swedish S & S-designed yawl Anitra won the Fastnet in this year.

Sources:

The Royal Ocean Racing Club programme, archives
The Royal Ocean Racing Club, Ian Dear - published by Adlard Coles 2000
The Champagne Mumm Book of Ocean Racing - An Illustrated History, Ian Dear - published by Severn House Publishers 1985

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