The world's largest, most diverse fleet of offshore racing yachts will set sail from the Solent on 16th August in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial Rolex Fastnet Race. 2015 marks the 90th anniversary of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and with it a record-sized fleet with as many as 350 boats is expected to take part.
As ever the 603 mile course takes the fleet west along the south coast of England, across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock off the tip of southwest Ireland, south around Bishop Rock and the Scilly Isles and back east to the finish in Plymouth. Conditions on the race course can range from benign and summery to vicious and stormy and the event is well remembered for the horrific conditions in 1979 that claimed the lives of 15 competitors. Fortunately vast improvements in weather forecasting, safety and communications equipment as well as yacht design over the intervening years mean that a repeat of this disaster today is unlikely.
The Rolex Fastnet Race is also one of the most popular events in sailing: the original limit of 300 boats racing for the overall handicap prize under IRC was increased to 340 in 2013 due to the increased demand. This is more than twice as many places as the next most popular of other 600 mile races held elsewhere the world and still, when registration opened in January, all 340 places were filled within just 24 minutes! In addition to this group is the 'non-IRC' fleet, including many top grand prix race boat classes such as the IMOCA 60s, that compete in the Vendee Globe singlehanded non-stop round the world race, and the Class 40s.
RORC Racing Manager Nick Elliott predicted 'a scramble for places' last October when it was announced that priority would be given to RORC members wishing to secure a place in the historic race celebrating its 90th year. He wasn't wrong. Just 24 minutes after the online entry system opened at midday on 12th January, over 300 boats had registered for the Rolex Fastnet Race. The frenetic trend continued and by the end of the afternoon, 375 boats had signed up for the biennial 608-nautical miler, which has been an established fixture on the ocean racing circuit since 1925.
"Within 24 hours of online entries opening in the race two years ago it was oversubscribed, and with a waiting list. We thought that was remarkable, but yesterday we reached the same number in 24 minutes! The Rolex Fastnet Race has great reverence with sailors worldwide wishing to compete in this iconic race and add it to their bucket list," says Elliott.
Welcome to the new Rolex Fastnet Race guide. This guide is intended to de-mystify the entry process and to help make your entry into the Rolex Fastnet Race as easy as possible. It is not to be treated as a replacement for the Rolex Fastnet Race Notice of Race which will be available on the RORC website.
The guide is based around you, the competitor, and we will be updating it frequently to reflect your feedback so as to improve the experience for everyone. If you have further questions or suggestions then please email the Race Team at
(please put the Sail Number and Boat Name in the subject field).
To help you access the information you need please choose below which description suits you best.
RORC expects another fantastic fleet for the 90th Anniversary of the Fastnet Race and is anticipating the entry limit of 340 boats to be reached quickly, just as in 2013 when the race filled up in less than 24 hours.
As the Rolex Fastnet Race has been oversubscribed for the last four editions, with some RORC members struggling to get a place in the race, the RORC has made the decision to give preference to entries from RORC Members for the first week of the entry list being open.
Registration will open at 1200 (UTC) on Monday 12th January, when everyone will be able to register their interest. At the end of the first week the RORC will allocate all RORC Members a place on the race, as long as they are able to show that they will be able to meet the entry qualifying criteria, as per the 2015 Notice of Race. The remaining places will be allocated in the order in which they registered.
"This is a fantastic opportunity to help our members participate in the club's founding event in such a special year. In the past it has been extremely hard to tell a member of the club that unfortunately they have been put on the Waiting List as the race is full," commented Nick Elliott RORC Racing Manager.
The entries will again be required to pay a non-refundable deposit to secure their place in the race and submit a proposal for how they intend to satisfy the experience qualification criteria of the race.
Registration is done via the RORC Online Entry System, REMUS. Competitors are advised to make sure their boats are already registered on REMUS prior to the Registration List for the Rolex Fastnet Race being opened on the 12th January.
The 100 foot (30.47m) LOA monohull limit set by a number of the classic 600 mile races such as the Fastnet, Sydney Hobart and Middle Sea races has been lifted by the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Royal Malta Yacht Club for the 2015 editions of the Rolex Fastnet and Rolex Middle Sea Races. This will allow superyachts participating in the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series to compete.
The AORS consists of four events: the RORC Caribbean 600, the 2015 Transatlantic Race from Newport to the Lizard, the Rolex Fastnet Race and Rolex Middle Sea Race. Superyachts have always been eligible to race in the RORC Caribbean 600 and a number have entered for the west to east Transatlantic Race at the end of June/July 2015, organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron and New York Yacht Club in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club and Storm Trysail Club.
The Rolex Fastnet Race 2013 concluded today in classic style with the final finisher, Duet, crossing the line and arriving in Plymouth in the early evening. Christopher Courtauld's 101 year old gaff yawl, sailed by David Cannell, tackled the 608 nm course in 6 days, 6 hours, 31 minutes and 27 seconds.
Whilst they have missed the Friday Prizegiving, they and other competitors are invited to attend a second Prizegiving at the RORC Clubhouse, St James's Place on Tuesday 10th September 2013.
Competitors enjoyed a fitting finale to the Rolex Fastnet Race with the prizegiving for the world's largest offshore yacht race being held on Mountbatten Green.
With a backdrop of the Citadel and Plymouth Hoe, the setting where history has it that Sir Francis Drake first spied the Spanish Armada while playing a game of bowls, prizegiving attendees were treated to their own piece of Fastnet history. Almost completely unchoreographed, proceedings coincided with the arrival of the gaff pilot cutter, Jolie Brise, the winner of first ever Fastnet Race in 1925 and still the only boat to have won the race on three occasions.
Since 1977, Dauntsey's School in Wiltshire gained use of the boat and in 2003 finally acquired her. According to her skipper Toby Maris, Jolie Brise last competed in the Rolex Fastnet Race during the 1990s and prior to that not since prior to World War Two.
"We are making very good progress towards the things we want to achieve," Maris said en route to the Rock. "The students have been having a very good sail, we want to complete the race and finish ahead of Duet and we want to enjoy ourselves. It will be an iconic moment when we get around the Rock."
However the 50 tonne pilot cutter is some way from being a state of the art racing yacht. "It is like taking a soggy 50 tonne log upwind!" Maris jokes.
Jolie Brise's fly-by up the Cattewater, en route to the Rolex Fastnet Race hub at Plymouth Yacht Haven, was followed by a magnificent display by the Aerostars Aerobatic Display Team.