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French dominate the non-IRC classes

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Macif skippered by Francois Gabart. Photo: Mark Lloyd/Lloyd ImagesFrance is probably the world's top nation when it comes to offshore racing with events such as the singlehanded round the world race, the Vendée Globe, and classes like the IMOCA 60, Class40 and Figaro. In addition to their domination of many of the IRC classes, French boats also represent the majority in the non-IRC classes competing in this year's Rolex Fastnet Race, which sets sail from Cowes tomorrow from 12 noon BST.

This year's biennial race to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock off southern Ireland, features some of the very best sailors from across the Channel, including Michel Desjoyeaux, PRB skipper Vincent Riou and François Gabart. Between them, they have won the last four Vendée Globe races. The podium finishers from the 2012-3 Vendée Globe are all taking part, with Gabart back on his winning IMOCA 60, MACIF, Alex Thomson on his third-placed Hugo Boss, while second placed Armel le Cleac'h, has graduated up to skipper of the 31.5m long trimaran, Banque Populaire.

Read more... [French dominate the non-IRC classes]

2013 Rolex Fastnet Race - Entrylists

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Entrylist for IRC rated boats

Correct as of 9th August 2013:

pdf 152.73 Kb Rolex Fastnet Race Entry List - IRC.pdf

Entrylist for Non-IRC rated (e.g. Class40, IMOCA 60, Multihull) boats

Correct as of 9th August 2013:

pdf Bytes Rolex Fastnet Race Entry List - Non-IRC


The Rolex Fastnet Race continues to progress

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Rive Potts' Carina at the Fastnet Rock in 2011. Photo:Rolex/Carlo BorlenghiThe world's largest offshore yacht race sets sail this Sunday, 11th August, with a fleet of 347 boats from 20 nations competing in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Rolex Fastnet Race. This size of fleet represents a new record entry for the 611-mile biennial race from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet rock off south-west Ireland.

With the economic downturn, other yacht races have been at best static in terms of participation, but in comparison the Rolex Fastnet Race represents a phenomenal success story with the entry list having had to close less than 24 hours after opening due to extreme demand.

"It is a little bit difficult to understand," admits Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, Mike Greville. "We have the professional crews, but the bulk of the fleet are just amateurs, here because they want to do it, because of the adventure, the achievement, it being on their bucket list, etc. For some people it is their Everest. Or there are others, like me, for whom it is like a pilgrimage."

First run in 1925, the Rolex Fastnet Race is one of the best known yacht races in the world, partly due to the 1979 race when the fleet was struck by un-forecast bad weather that ultimately claimed 18 lives. Today weather forecasting is vastly improved, as well as the safety equipment and communications equipment with which the boats are equipped. But the Rolex Fastnet Race remains a story of man battling against the elements. In reasonably severe weather two years ago, the keel fell off the leading monohull, Rambler 100, causing her to capsize. Fortunately, her crew were successfully rescued by the Baltimore lifeboat, but it highlights that this race has lost none of its potential danger.

Read more... [The Rolex Fastnet Race continues to progress]

IRC form guide - 300 boats fight for the Fastnet Challenge Cup

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Ran 2 in RORC600. Photo: Tim WrightWhile the headline grabbing big boats may romp away come Sunday's start of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the world's largest offshore yacht race, a longer more intricate battle will play out between the 300 boats competing for the handicap prize, the Fastnet Challenge Cup, for the winner under IRC rating.

This year there is one obvious favourite. Niklas Zennström's Judel Vrolijk 72 Rán 2 is run with all the precision of an America's Cup team and the result has been her winning the last two Rolex Fastnet Races. The team is gunning to claim it a third time and if this pans out, Rán 2 will become the first boat to win three times in a row.

Read more... [IRC form guide - 300 boats fight for the Fastnet Challenge Cup]

Rolex Fastnet Competitor Information

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All Rolex Fastnet Race competitors can download the Rolex Fastnet Race Information Sheet 72.57 Kb with the course, proposed start times, list of areas that are obstructions and class flags.


Rolex Fastnet Race Proposed Start Times

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The proposed start times for the Rolex Fastnet Race on Sunday 11th August 2013 are as follows:

Class Start time
Multihull 1200
IMOCA 60 1210
Class40 & Figaro II 1220
IRC 4 1230
IRC 3 1250
IRC 2 1310
IRC 1 1330
IRC Z & CK 1350

Royal Ocean Racing Club selects Inmarsat as communications partner for Rolex Fastnet Race

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Inmarsat in use onboard La Réponse. Photo: Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.comThe Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), organiser of the Rolex Fastnet Race, has selected Inmarsat, the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, as its satellite communications partner for the 2013 race, which starts on Sunday 11th August.

Inmarsat's FleetBroadband service will be provided via RORC to eight boats in the Rolex Fastnet Race. The iconic 88 year old event is considered one of the world's classic offshore races, which tests both the inshore and offshore skills of competitors.

By using Inmarsat's global mobile satellite fleet, the eight yachts will be able to provide the RORC with an on-going flow of video, audio and social media content. This will make the challenging event accessible to journalists and sailing enthusiasts across the world. A ninth yacht will be using IsatPhone Pro, Inmarsat's rugged, global handheld satellite phone, for communication and media purposes.

Read more... [Royal Ocean Racing Club selects Inmarsat as communications partner for Rolex Fastnet Race]

Clash of the Titans

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Esimit Europa 2. Photo:Rolex/Kurt ArrigoWhile the Rolex Fastnet Race's top prize is the Fastnet Challenge Cup and Rolex chronometer for the first of the 302 boats competing under IRC Rating, another significant battle will be between the most high profile monohulls and multihulls, gunning for line honours into Plymouth.

Leading the charge among this year's record breaking entry (currently standing at 350 in total) will be two of the world's fastest offshore racing monohulls, the maxis Esimit Europa 2 and Mike Slade's ICAP Leopard. Of these the European-flagged Esimit Europa 2 is the clear favourite: Both boats are fitted with canting keels and are 100ft long, but she is some 40% lighter than ICAP Leopard.

However Esimit Europa 2's skipper, German three time Olympic medallist Jochen Schümann, observes that the 100ft maxis don't have the greatest record on this course. Rambler 100 broke her keel and capsized just after rounding the Fastnet Rock in 2011 while, in her previous life as Neville Crichton's Alfa Romeo, Esimit Europa 2 was forced to pull out while leading the 2007 race.

"We are unbeatable unless we break the boat," admits Schümann, adding that Esimit Europa 2's ideal conditions are light to medium. "From 12-14 knots we are fully loaded and then we start reefing and slowing down the boat. In more wind than that the VO70s could be faster reaching or downwind than we are. In heavy breeze, it will be a really tough competition."

Schümann competed in the Rolex Fastnet Race during the 1990s aboard the ILC40 Aerosail and on the IMS50 Rubin XV. He is a big fan of the event: "350 boats - it is great. It shows what sailing can provide from racing to cruising, big boats to smaller boats. Only the very best boats and crews can win, but it is good to have such a strong competition in terms of numbers."

Read more... [Clash of the Titans]

Rolex Fastnet Race - a Truly International Challenge

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2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Handicap Winner - Geoff Boettcher's Secret Men's Business 3.5 (AUS). Photo: Rolex/Carlo BorlenghiThe biggest and best offshore racing boats from around the world will be descending on the Solent for the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race, beginning from Cowes on Sunday, 11th August. At present the tally for the Royal Ocean Racing Club's flagship event, the world's largest offshore yacht race, stands at a record breaking 351. Of these 47 are in the 'non-IRC classes' including the multihulls, Class 40s and IMOCA 60s while the remaining 304 are gunning for the overall IRC prizes of the Fastnet Challenge Trophy and a Rolex chronometer.

Impressively this year one third of the fleet, 119 boats, are from overseas.

The boat having travelled furthest is Geoff Boettcher's Secret Men's Business 3.5, from Adelaide in South Australia. The 3.5 refers to how the boat's original hull was chopped away from the deck, and somehow replaced with an upgraded design four foot longer, now up to 51ft. This dramatic modification worked, for in 2010 she won the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Boettcher admits this will be his first Rolex Fastnet Race, although several of his crew, including Will Best and Andy Mieklejohn are old hands. "I did the Etchell Worlds there in 1996 and I have been saving up ever since!" he quips of his return to the UK.

Secret Men's Business 3.5 rates well under IRC and is expected to be a strong contender for the overall IRC prize. Boettcher says she is more 'offshore orientated' than the TP52s she regularly races against. As to how the Fastnet Race stacks up against the Rolex Sydney-Hobart, he hedges: "I'm sure it won't be a walk in the park. I've heard mixed reactions... I gather it is 20 miles shorter."

Read more... [Rolex Fastnet Race - a Truly International Challenge]

Rolex Fastnet Race Records

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Rolex Fastnet Race RecordsThe start of the 45th Rolex Fastnet Race is less than a month away. The provisional entry list stands at 380 yachts, of which a remarkable 340 are eligible for the top prize - the Fastnet Challenge Trophy and Rolex Chronometer for winning overall. This year's race looks well set to far outstrip the previous highest entry of 315, and, in this regard alone, the 2013 Rolex Fastnet will add considerable lustre to its already polished status in sport. A glance through the entries suggests that an outstanding race is in prospect. The diverse, international fleet challenging the 608-nm course is brimming with talent throughout the size ranges.

When the biennial race organized by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) sets off from Cowes on 11 August, eyes will naturally be drawn to the expected front-runners. Spectators will be rewarded with a feast, given the mix of awe-inspiring monohull and multihull might taking part.

Read more... [Rolex Fastnet Race Records]
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Rolex Fastnet Race 2015

Sunday 16th August 2015

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