Rolex Fastnet Race Archives

News 2015

Mastering the Light

Christian Ripard. Photo: Rolex/Daniel Forster Christian Ripard. Photo: Rolex/Daniel Forster

With Mediterranean conditions affecting the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race, the emphasis on racing performance has switched to light airs tactics. Christian Ripard is a highly experienced offshore sailor from Malta who has been part of winning teams for the Rolex Middle Sea Race on four occasions, including co-skipper of J/122 Artie, the overall winner in 2014. Christian often sails in light conditions and has these thoughts about mastering the light:

“You can win or lose in light winds so I teach my crew when it goes light this is where you win the race.

“Everybody can sail in a good wind but you have to strive very hard to make sure you perform well in the light. If the boat is going just a fraction of a knot more than a competitor you get ahead and when the breeze does kick in, that lead multiplies. In the light we can sail 5 or 10% better than the opposition and that is difficult to achieve in a true wind.

Light conditions at the start of the 2015 Rolex Middle Sea Race. Photo: Rolex/Daniel Forster

“Patience in light weather is the key with very few movements of the crew on board and even off-watch, you have to be aware of where to put your weight. Sail selection and development is a key area. For example using a wind seeker, which is actually a very small sail, but keeps its shape well and keeps the boat steering a course.

“Spotting wind on the water is very important. If we see a gust we sail for it, regardless of heading and sail from gust to gust. At night, I use normal binoculars and with a trained eye, you can see the zephyrs coming down. It is much easier if there is little swell during. Contours, ripples and dark patches in the water are the tell-tales of wind.

“After dusk, I don't allow any light on board except for the navigational lights. I have been on boats that light up the sails for the trim but I can't steer like that and it has got to be dead quiet, just one guy calling the breeze. However the real skill is simply patience – it is easy to concentrate for two hours, but all night takes patience. Picking a nearby boat and competing with it, also keeps the crews adrenalin level up. “

Race Day: How to Follow the Race

Start of the Rolex Fastnet Race. Photo: Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi Start of the Rolex Fastnet Race. Photo: Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

The Rolex Fastnet Race starts today, Sunday 16th August, at 1200 BST

The start sequence begins with the first warning signal at 11.50 BST. The sequence lasts for two hours from 1200 to 1400.


1200 Multihull

1210 IMOCA 60, Class40 & Figaro II

1220 IRC 4

1240 IRC 3

1300 IRC 2

1320 IRC 1

1340 IRC CK, Zero & VO65


The best vantage points of the start will be along Cowes Green and Egypt Esplanade on the Isle of Wight. Spectators will also be able to listen to the live commentary on the speakers along Cowes Parade and The Green.


Fastnet TV will cover the entire start sequence live. It will be streamed online from the official race website and will be shown around Cowes on big and small screens.

Live Fastnet Radio commentary will be broadcasting on 87.7FM from 11am today and in Plymouth will be simulcast on 87.9FM.

Out of VHF range? Then go to the web site -


The easiest way to follow the fleet is via the RORC’s web site. Here you can find the latest news and images as well as blogs from the boats, web updates and morning and afternoon race reports during the entire race.


Track the Rolex Fastnet Race fleet online with the YB Tracker Player. View by class or select your favourites and check out boat speed and weather conditions in real time. Read the social media feed and see the live leaderboard.


Join the thousands of armchair sailors who will test their skills on the same course as competitors in the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race by playing the Virtual Fastnet Race.


The Rolex Fastnet Race attracts an enormous amount of posts, photos and videos on both facebook and twitter. To receive all of the news and gossip from the race simply 'like' our facebook page or 'follow' the race on Twitter. Don’t forget to add #rorcrfr to your posts!



Comedy Classic

Welsh Comedian, author and TV Producer; Griff Rhys Jones will be competing for the first time in the Rolex Fastnet Race in his classic 1948 Sparkman Stephens Yawl, Argyll.  Photo: Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images Welsh Comedian, author and TV Producer; Griff Rhys Jones will be competing for the first time in the Rolex Fastnet Race in his classic 1948 Sparkman Stephens Yawl, Argyll. Photo: Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images

Welsh Comedian, author and TV Producer; Griff Rhys Jones has entertained millions of viewers with comedy sketches and documentaries. Notably in the hit 80s BBC shows, Not the Nine O'Clock News and Alias Smith and Jones. Recently Griff has fronted a number of documentary series for both the BBC and ITV including; Three Men in a Boat with Dara Ó Briain and Rory McGrath. Griff has been sailing since he was a child and will be taking part in this year's Rolex Fastnet Race at the helm of his classic 1948 Sparkman Stephens yawl, Argyll, but here is nothing laughable about Argyll's Rolex Fastnet campaign.

Argyll will be racing against other classics, including several Olin Stephens designs: Stormy Weather of Cowes, Tomahawk and Dorade. Argyll showed what she is capable of in this July's Cowes Dinard-St Malo Race; winning the 44-strong IRC 4 class and placing fourth overall in a fleet of 154 yachts, including modern yachts optimised to the IRC Rule. Most importantly of all for Griff, Argyll beat Stormy Weather of Cowes to St Malo.

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What's your Story?

Digby Fox and Loic Peyron on board Banque Populaire V, 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race Digby Fox and Loic Peyron on board Banque Populaire V, 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race

Thousands of Rolex Fastnet Race fans all over the world will be following the race as the action unfolds, and the Competitors' Blog is a big part of the coverage. Over 3,000 sailors will be taking part and they can tell their story from on board, with text, pictures, video and audio.

Digby Fox is one of sailing's finest storytellers, working behind the camera at the America's Cup, Olympics, Volvo Ocean Race and top regattas all over the world, and he is no stranger to the Rolex Fastnet Race. In 1997, Digby was on board Spirit of England, setting the current multihull record for under 50ft. In 2003 with Nokia Enigma, the overall winner under IRC and with Banque Populaire in 2011, the outright multihull race record.

Digby hasn't always been on the fast high performance flyers; In 2009, Bristol Pilot Cutter Morwenna was a totally different experience. This year it will be Digby's tenth Rolex Fastnet Race and he will be on board the classic yawl, Stormy Weather of Cowes. Here are some top tips from Digby on how to improve your story from the Rolex Fastnet Race.

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Don't Miss the Start

Fleet leaving the Solent at the Needles. Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo Fleet leaving the Solent at the Needles. Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Start: 1200 BST Sunday 16th August

The 46th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race, which only takes place every other year, starts this Sunday with close to 400 yachts competing. The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classics to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between.

The world's biggest offshore racing fleet will start gathering in the central Solent from about 1000 BST Sunday 16th August 2015 and the start sequence will begin at 1200 BST; the leaders should be approaching Hurst Narrows to exit the Solent before 1300 BST.

Cowes, Isle of Wight

Cowes, the spiritual home of yacht racing, has always been the starting point for the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Fastnet Race. Prior to the start, the majority of the Rolex Fastnet fleet will already be moored in the Medina River, Cowes Yacht Haven and Shepards Wharf Marina. Cowes High Street has a myriad of restaurants, pubs and maritime facilities dating back to the early 1700s and is the perfect setting for the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Thousands will watch the start from Cowes. The best views will be: The Parade, Cowes Green and Egypt Esplanade.

Mainland Shore

Hurst Castle, built by Henry VIII in 1540, marks the western end of the Solent. The historic fortification offers a close-up view of the Rolex Fastnet fleet as they negotiate the Hurst Narrows and exit the Solent. The castle can be accessed on foot from Milford on Sea, along the shingle spit at low tide, or by ferry from Keyhaven.

Island Shore

Yarmouth has been a settlement for over a thousand years and contains some of the oldest architecture on the Isle of Wight, including Yarmouth Castle which was built by Henry VIII in 1547. The Grade II listed Yarmouth Pier offers an ideal vista for the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race.

The Needles

The distinctive stacks of chalk that rise out of the sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight, is the iconic symbol of the island. Perched high above the Needles, the Old Battery offers unrivaled views of the Rolex Fastnet fleet as they leave the Solent. The Victorian fort built in 1862, and used throughout both World Wars, is accessible by foot from Alum Bay and by bus from Yarmouth.

Armchair Admirals

There will be live radio commentary from Fastnet Radio 87.7fm and on social media there will be a live blog on Twitter (@RORCRacing) and Facebook (

You can watch the start live and track the fleet via the Royal Ocean Racing Club's dedicated mini-site.

You can also play along with the fleet in the Virtual Regatta.

Follow the Race

After the start full coverage of the Rolex Fastnet Race will continue with pictures and video on the multimedia page, the latest news and the Competitors' Blog to keep race fans up to date. All of the yachts in the Rolex Fastnet Race will have YB Trackers so the worldwide audience can track their progress in real time - 24 hours a day.

Visit the official Rolex Fastnet website: