Rolex Fastnet Race Archives

Time Traveller

The Pilot Cutter MorwennaThe gaffed rig pilot cutter, Jolie Brise, won the first Fastnet race in 1925 and this year, 64 years later, there is another pilot cutter making the trip around the rock in the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Skippered by Alex Day, Morwenna is a 45ft Bristol Channel pilot cutter and has the looks and lines of a traditional wooden boat, crafted using traditional boatbuilding techniques and materials but the boat is a reproduction, a modern classic. The larch hull and deck sit on English oak frames, from sustainable and renewable resources. She displaces 28 tonnes, solid as a rock but by modern standards very slow. The Jolie Brise took over six days to complete the race in 1925, Morwenna, which is ten feet smaller, looks like she might take considerably longer.

"I really feel like I have travelled back in time," commented Digby Fox. 'This is my eighth race and very different to anything I have sailed before. She is not an easy boat to sail, at the moment we have five different sails up and there isn't a single winch on the boat, it's all block and tackle. I have competed in the Fastnet race on record breaking multihulls and maxis but this is a very different experience. It is extremely hard work and I have tremendous respect for the crew of Jolie Brise, who must have been pushing so hard to win the race. We on the other hand, know that we are in this race for the thrill of sailing a beautifully crafted traditional boat and morale on board is excellent. Tonight's meal is a Robin Knox –Johnston curry (HOT!). It is going to take a while for us to get around the course but nobody is complaining, this voyage is more about the journey than the arrival and as Winston Churchill once said; 'We will keep buggering on.'