Since this time the legendary Fastnet race has gone from strength to strength with improved communications and safety regulations in force, the race is considered a supreme challenge to ocean racing yachtsmen in British waters.
Since 1957 the Fastnet race has been the final race of the Admiral's Cup competition but in 1999, major innovations to the Admiral's Cup led the Management Committee to introduce a number of changes in the race programme. These included re-designing the event as a stand-alone series outside of Skandia Life Cowes Week, limiting the number of professionals on board each boat and incorporating the Wolf Rock Race as the principal offshore race.
The Fastnet race now retains its place in the racing calendar immediately after Skandia Life Cowes Week and is open to all but does not form part of the programme for the Admiral's Cup.
The 1999 Fastnet attracted 213 yachts from over 9 countries to take part, including several world famous yachts and celebrities alike including Ellen MacArthur racing Kingfisher and Ted Turner's maxi Sayonara. New speed records were set, with the fastest 60ft multihull Fujicolor, reaching 15.98 knots during the race.
The winner of the Fastnet Challenge Cup, for Best Overall in BCT, IRC was Catherine Chabaud from France, racing the Open 60 Whirlpool-Europe 2. Chabaud took 5 days 22hrs and 59mins to complete the course.
The weather saw light SW winds at first becoming calm during the starting sequence. During Sunday and Monday winds of up to 28 knots NE were recorded at the Fastnet Rock and some yachts sailed the entire course without tacking. Later, winds generally dropped and became variable or SE for many yachts on their return from the Rock. A large number in this group were forced to kedge off the Lizard for several hours before reaching Plymouth.
Speed Records Set in Fastnet 1999
Fastest monohull without water ballast Boomerang 11.13 Knots
Fastest monohull with water ballast RF Yachting 11.48 knots
Fastest 60ft multihull Fujicolor 15.08 knots
Fastest Volvo 60 Illbruck 2 11.36 Knots
Fastest Open 60 Whirlpool-Europe 2 11.43 knots
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