Wind direction as much as strength defined the 48th edition of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Rolex Fastnet Race.
A rare southeasterly for start day, which held through most of the first night, saw competitors sailing a straight line down the western Solent and out into the Channel.
When the new breeze filled in from the southwest, it never veered much further right than due west making for a tight reach across the Celtic Sea. This was anything but the typical ‘300 mile beat to the Fastnet Rock’ but made for a fast race with records tumbling from the Ultims to the Sigma 38s.
It also confirmed the Rolex Fastnet Race’s position as the world’s largest offshore race with 388 starters, setting a new record, up from the 362 of 2017.
As usual the race was a magnificent showcase of the complete range of offshore racing hardware, from French state of the art racers like the Ultims, IMOCA 60s and Class40s, to the bulk of entries in the huge IRC fleet, competing for the race’s top prize - the Fastnet Challenge Cup. These ranged from the world’s leading maxis, to top pro-am teams, to family and yacht club or charity or sailing school entries, for many of whom the Rolex Fastnet Race would represent the pinnacle of their sailing careers.