Following the success of the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race from Cowes to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and its French partners are delighted to announce the date for the next edition of its flagship event in 2023.
Rolex Fastnet Race News
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.
The Rolex Fastnet Race has officially come to an end. Le Loup Rouge of Cmn, the last competitor to finish, arrived in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin last night after 8 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 28 seconds of racing.
As the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race draws to a close, you can catch up on the event in several ways online
This evening is the prize-giving for the 49th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race, taking place in the race village on the waterfront at Cherbourg’s Port Chantereyne.
As overall winner of the race, Tom Kneen’s JPK 11.80 Sunrise is going to need a bigger cabinet to store the trophies which include the Foxhound Cup for victory in IRC Two as well as the coveted Fastnet Challenge Cup for winning the Rolex Fastnet Race outright. A new prize, the David Seth Smith Trophy is also for Sunrise as the best Performance 40. The Alf Loomis Trophy goes to the navigator of the best yacht overall, although as co-navigators Suzy Peters and Tom Cheney will have to argue over who gets to take that one home. With two years until the next edition of the race, at least Tom and Suzy can keep it for a year each.
This year the Rolex Fastnet Race featured on the Classe Figaro calendar. Unfortunately the proximity of it to the mid-August start of La Solitaire du Figaro, the class’ premier event and the effective World Championship of solo offshore racing, meant that just five Figaros took part. Victory went to a rookie pairing.
Built by Beneteau and designed by VPLP, the 32ft Figaro 3 is an early generation foiler monohull that replaced the Figaro 2 in 2019. But to give some idea of its exceptional performance, the boat has an IRC TCC of around 1.115 - around the same as a Corby 38 or Ker 39.
Sadly the big 35 knot upwind, wind against tide conditions at the start put two Figaro 3s out of action. British favourites, the mixed duo of Cat Hunt and former Artemis Offshore Academy student Hugh Brayshaw aboard Ross Farrow’s Stormwave 2.0 retired after their D2 broke. Meanwhile sail damage on Eric & Denis Delamare’s Hope forced them to limp into Cherbourg.
As of dawn on the sixth day, 20 boats were still at sea, racing towards the finish in Cherbourg.
For the Paul Moxon and Steve Jones, the doublehanded team on Amokura, this race is a fascinating chapter to a story dating back to 1939, when Amokura was built in Moody’s Yard up the Hamble River in Hampshire, UK. The 50ft Fredrick Shepherd yawl competed in the 1959 Fastnet Race and in the 2019 edition, but completed neither. For the 2021 edition, Amokura crossed the finish line at 10:54, finally finishing the race she was built for 82 years ago.
With nine JPK 10.10s in action in IRC Four, the smart money was on a fifth in a row win for the highly successful model from Jean-Pierre Kelbert’s boatyard. However, this year’s IRC Four podium did not contain a single JPK 10.10. A ridge rolled over the fleet south of the Scilly Isles on Wednesday night forcing a race restart and, partly as a result of this, the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race podium is filled with boats of 20 years old or more, and raced by passionate amateur sailors from France and Ireland. Overall honours were claimed by Alain Guelennoc’s X-332 Trading-advices.com.
The early part of the 49th Rolex Fastnet Race was dominated by JPK 10.10s. Ludovic Menahes and David le Goff on the former’s Raphael, competing in their first Rolex Fastnet Race (after the Cap Martinique transatlantic race was cancelled), slowly ground out a lead doing a better job of playing tides along the Cornish coast. She passed up the west side of the Traffic Separation Scheme off Land’s End and remained ahead on the Celtic Sea Cross. At the Fastnet Rock Raphael was ahead on the water and held a lead of 52 minutes under corrected time from Emmanuel & Etienne Pinteaux’s JPK 10.10 Gioia.
Tom Kneen’s JPK 11.80 Sunrise has been crowned overall winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race. After being confirmed as runaway winner of the IRC Two division yesterday, no other boat still racing on the 695 nautical mile course can catch the British boat for overall honours in this, the 49th edition of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s offshore classic. Kneen is the first British winner of the race since Charles Dunstone and his maxi Nokia Enigma in 2003.
Reunited this morning with his two-year old son Sam, Kneen couldn’t hide the emotion of winning a race that has come to mean so much to him:
“I’ve had 24 hours to reflect on the race after we finished yesterday, and it really is all about the people, the amazing team that sailed with me, and my incredible partner Francesca who has done so much to make this happen.”
One of the most intense battles, both on the water and under IRC corrected time, in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race played out in IRC Three. Here the scratch boat was unquestionably the JPK 1030 Léon, skippered by the defending IRC Three and Two-Handed champion and former overall winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race, Alexis Loison, racing yet again doublehanded, but this time with Guillaume Pirouelle.
Interesting was the diversity of crew make-ups: Fully crewed, doublehanded or mixed doublehanded, it seemed to make no difference to the competitiveness of the top boats. While the lead doublehanders in IRC Four were occasionally in the mix, it was mainly the doublehanded crews in IRC Three that held the top places in the IRC Two-Handed ranking.
Tom Kneen’s JPK 11.80 Sunrise has sewn up IRC Two in this 49th Rolex Fastnet Race. The Devonshire team crossed the Cherbourg finish line at 1004 BST this morning. Sunrise’s corrected time of 4 days, 6 hours, 45 minutes 4 seconds has given Kneen IRC Two victory by a huge margin. As Sunrise finished, her closest rival was just past the Lizard with more than 120 nautical miles still to sail.
After a hideous outbound beat down the Channel, when they never seemed to be in phase with the tide, Sunrise’s first break came after making the last minute call to go up the eastern side of the traffic separation scheme at Land’s End with Il Corvo as the majority of the frontrunners chose to go up the TSS’s west side.
1500 BST 12 August
At 15:00 BST on Day 5 of the Rolex Fastnet Race, five boats form a leading pack on the water in IRC Four. 140 miles from the finish in Cherbourg the leaders are expected to cross the finish line tonight. All of the teams racing in IRC Four are experiencing an increase in wind speed from the southwest, especially the back markers who are experiencing a Force 7 at the Fastnet Rock.
Making good progress, reaching east in a building south westerly breeze, Harry Heijst’s S&S 41 Winsome will see an opportunity to make gains. Winsome has by far the longest waterline length in the leading pack around them. To the north of Winsome and the rhumb line is Vincent & Jacques Rigalleau racing Sun Fast 3200 Enedis, Emmanuel & Etienne Pinteaux’s JPK 10.10 Gioia and Patrick Molitor & Alexis Schenker’s JPK 10.10 Fleur Du Sud. Ludovic Menahes & David le Goff, racing JPK 10.10 Raphael is the most southerly of the leaders.
1300 BST Thursday 12 August
Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 10.80 Raging Bee² still leads on the water in IRC Three for the Rolex Fastnet Race. Raging Bee² passed the Isles of Scilly for the second time at 20:37 on 11th August. JPK 10.30 Léon, sailed, Two-Handed by Alexis Loison & Guillaume Pirouelle was 18 minutes behind. Since rounding the Fastnet Rock Raging Bee² has extended their lead on the water by 11 minutes, posting the quickest stage time in IRC Three. Philippe Girardin’s J/120 Hey Jude continues to impress against the modern designs, passing the Scillies just nine minutes after the JPK 10.30 Léon. Olivier Burgaud & Sylvain Pontu’s JPK 10.80 Aileau is also in the leading pack bound for Cherbourg and placed third in IRC Two-Handed.
Royal Ocean Racing Club top brass, including former Commodore Michael Boyd, out-going and in-coming CEOs Eddie Warden Owen and Jeremy Wilton, Race Director Chris Stone and former Race Director Janet Grosvenor turned out en masse on Cherbourg’s Port Chantereyne last night to welcome in the present RORC Commodore James Neville whose Judel/Vrolijk-designed HH42 finished the Rolex Fastnet Race leader of IRC One, both on the water and under IRC corrected time.
Ino XXX crossed the finish line at 22:34 BST last night with a race time of 3 days 10 hours 39 minutes and 58 seconds. At that point second placed Swede Jonas Granders’ Elliot 44 CR Matador was still north of Alderney with more than 20 miles to go. While this morning Ino XXX has yet to seal the deal in IRC One, her position is looking reasonably secure with, for example, boats like Richard Loftus' Swan 65 ketch Desperado and Chris Schram and Patrick ten Brinke's Corby 38 Double Edge having to finish by 12:23 to topple Neville’s team.