Rolex Fastnet Race 2023

The 2023 Rolex Fastnet Race proved near perfect as a celebration of the 50th running of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s flagship event. As a reminder of what a brutal race it can be, its giant fleet set off from the Solent into a southwesterly gale. Over the 695 miles to the Fastnet Rock and back, for a second time, to the finish in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, the slower boats had to deal over four to five days with weather they might normally expect in twice that time, including strong winds associated with three cold fronts. The Fastnet Challenge Cup’s worthy winner on this occasion came from a class where much new hardware had been built especially for this special race.

As ever, the fleet was hugely diverse, from the 32x23m Ultim trimarans, the world’s fastest offshore yachts, to the 60ft flying IMOCAs of the Vendée Globe, Class40s and multihulls to the bulk of the fleet in the IRC classes - ranging from maxis, to purpose-built 50-footers, to substantial turn-outs of manufacturer classes, a record doublehanded entry down to yacht club, association, family, sailing school and charter boat entries. It was again record-sized: while seven had set sail in 1925, this year 430 started (the previous record was 388 in 2019).

Full Event Wrap Up





With its new course and giant fleet, the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Rolex Fastnet Race this year provided an even greater test of racing and seamanship skill for its competitors. At 695 miles, the new course to Cherbourg was 90 miles longer than before, but as usual, required competitors to negotiate a complex mix of coastal, oceanic and tidal sailing. More extreme than usual were the conditions. For the start there was a near gale and a vicious wind-against-tide sea state to exit the Solent, but these slowly abated and later there were periods of flat calm and fog.

The move of the finish from Plymouth to Cherbourg was due to the increased facilities, including a huge marina and berthing in the heart of the city, as well as taking the world’s largest offshore race to a country where public interest and enthusiasm for this form of yachting is unparalleled. It came about thanks to the co-operation of the City of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, the Communauté d’agglomération du Cotentin, the Conseil départemental de la Manche and Région Normandie.

For competitors, the new finish port threw up a fascinating final challenge: The Alderney Race (Raz Blanchard). This resulted in wide-ranging tactics with boats approaching the top of Cherbourg’s Cotentin Peninsula from both the extreme north and south, and all points between, according to the tidal state.

Full event wrap up

Monohull: 2 days, 8 hours, 33 minutes, 55 seconds
56 hours, 33 minutes, 55 seconds
ClubSwan 125 - Skorpios, owned by Dmitry Rybolovlev, skippered by Fernando Echavarri (2021)
Multihull: 1 day, 9 hours, 14 minutes, 54 seconds
33 hours, 14 minutes, 54 seconds
Ultime 32m Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, co-skippered by Charles Caudrelier and Franck Cammas (2021)

Fastnet Challenge Cup - IRC Overall winner in 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race: Sunrise (GBR) - JPK 11.80 – Tom Kneen


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