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Displaying items by tag: Rolex Fastnet Race

Organisers of the Rolex Fastnet Race have welcomed the British Government’s easing of travel restrictions between the UK and France which come into affect hours before the race start in Cowes this Sunday 8 August.

For the crews of the 355 participating yachts in this year’s race, Britain’s downgrading of France’s COVID status to ‘amber’ from 4am on Sunday will have two welcome effects:

  • British competitors who are double vaccinated can now stop in Cherbourg at the end of the race (where there is free berthing at Port Chantereyne) and then return home to the UK at their leisure, where they will no longer be required to quarantine.
  • Due to the COVID travel restrictions, most non-British competitors previously weren’t able to touch land in the UK prior to the start of the race. However, the new rules now mean that overseas yachts can stop in the UK prior to the start, from 4am on Sunday morning, provided that their crew is double vaccinated.

Commenting on the changes, race director Chris Stone said: “The COVID restrictions relaxing in the UK comes as a great relief, even so close to start day. It is symbolic of a cross-Channel handshake, a coming together of English and French competitors in a great sports event.

“It will definitely make the race more enjoyable for the crews — overseas crews can now stop in Cowes just before the start and we are expecting a greater portion of the fleet to stop in Cherbourg.

“It means we can achieve our vision for the Cherbourg Race Village with English competitors finishing and enjoying all the festivities there, which is a key part of this event.”

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, more than 300 yachts from 31 countries will compete in the 49th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race, which finishes in Cherbourg for the first time in its 96 years.

For those following the race from afar, you can watch the start online at the Rolex Fastnet Race website, as well as the RORC’s channels on YouTube and Facebook.

The livestreamed Start Show, with commentary from on and off the water, begins at 10.30am BST. Expert commentators Pip Hare, Abby Ehler, Matt Sheahan, Louay Habib and Simon Vigar will talk through all the action from the start of the world’s biggest offshore yacht race, with analysis and interviews from competitors and organisers in build-up to the race.

The first warning signal is at 1100 (first start 1110) and the fleet is divided into seven groups, each starting at a different time and heading west down the Solent toward the Needles: 1110 Multihull, 1125 IMOCA 60, Class40, 1140 IRC 4, 1155 IRC 3, 1210 IRC 2, 1225 IRC 1, 1240 IRC Z.

For those fortunate enough to be in Cowes on the day, the best vantage points of the start will be along Cowes Green and Egypt Esplanade. As the fleet funnels west out of the Solent there will be lots of chances to see the yachts from Yarmouth as well.

From the mainland you can view the yachts on their outbound leg; the best places to watch are from Hurst Castle, Anvil Point, St Alban’s Head and Portland Bill.

Listen to the commentary of the race on 87.9FM locally or online at coweslive.co.uk or through the speakers if you are sitting watching the spectacle from Princes Green or on The Parade in Cowes.

All yachts are fitted with a YB Tracker so you can follow an individual boat, a class or the whole fleet. The race tracker will be up on the official site closer to the start.

Published in Fastnet
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Almost six months after they competed in the world’s most brutal race — the singlehanded non-stop lap of the planet that is the Vendée Globe — many of the IMOCA fleet will be returning to the race course for the first time in August’s Rolex Fastnet Race.

Aside from the added attraction of the race now ending up in home waters, with the finish moving for the first time to Cherbourg, for the IMOCA teams the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s flagship event is also a qualifier for November’s Transat Jacques Vabre.

Running from Le Havre to Martinique (via Fernando di Noronha off Brazil), this event is double-handed and the world’s most advanced offshore monohulls will also sail in this configuration for the Rolex Fastnet Race.

The line-up is impressive. It includes Charlie Dalin on Apivia who was first home into Les Sables d’Olonne in late January, until Maître CoQ, skippered by Yannick Bestaven, subsequently became the race’s winner after he was awarded time compensation for his part in the rescue of Kevin Escoffier.

From the US, The Ocean Race team 11th Hour Racing has not one but two IMOCAs entered. This includes the 2016 vintage former HUGO BOSS, being campaigned by the mixed Anglo-Swiss crew of Volvo Ocean Race veteran Simon Fisher and Justine Mettraux.

Charlie Dalin, second in the last Vendée Globe aboard Apivia, is competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race | Credit: Maxime Horlaville/Disobey/ApiviaCharlie Dalin, second in the last Vendée Globe aboard Apivia, is competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race | Credit: Maxime Horlaville/Disobey/Apivia

But all eyes could be on the campaign’s latest steed, to be sailed by American Charlie Enright and top French offshore sailor Pascal Bidégorry. Whether she will make it is in the balance: the launch of this new Guillaume Verdier design, built by CKD Technologies and project managed by Francois Gabart’s company MerConcept, is scheduled for the end of July, leaving precious little work-up time before the 8 August start.

Significantly this will be the first new flying IMOCA launched with The Ocean Race in mind, rather than the Vendée Globe. However, Enright, who two years ago was outright winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race as sailing master on the Askew brothers’ VO70 Wizard, explains they are hedged.

“In some ways we are optimised for both crewed and shorthanded racing, and in other ways we have definitely compromised to be able to wear both hats in this fleet. It is the first IMOCA built with The Ocean Race as its primary objective,” he said.

What this means in terms of the specifics of the new hardware, we will have to wait and see. Theoretically with the potential to trim the foils more regularly, they could be more optimised and less draggy than the present generation foils.

For sure it will require more interior and cockpit space to accommodate four crew plus a media crewman and it will be interesting to see the degree to which the cockpit is enclosed. There is also a tricky engineering balance to be reached in that the extra crew equals extra weight and righting moment and they can potentially drive the boat harder, but at the expense of extra structural weight, which in turn is bad for light airs foiling.

The first new flying IMOCA launched with the Ocean Race in mind — one of two boats entered by 11th Hour Racing | Credit: Amory Ross/11th Hour RacingThe first new flying IMOCA launched with the Ocean Race in mind — one of two boats entered by 11th Hour Racing | Credit: Amory Ross/11th Hour Racing

In with a strong chance of line honours is Britain’s Alex Thomson and HUGO BOSS. After leading the Vendée Globe fleet into the South Atlantic, HUGO BOSS in that race suffered structural damage to her bow and Thomson was subsequently forced to retire into Cape Town with “irreparable rudder damage”.

HUGO BOSS is back in the water with two new rudders and Thomson and his team in Gosport, UK are keen to prove the potential of their radical craft, the first IMOCA with a fully enclosed cockpit.

For Thomson, the Rolex Fastnet Race has played a major part in his sailing career: “I love the Rolex Fastnet Race. I got my sailing instructor [qualification] in 1994 and in 1995 I joined Britannia Sailing, who were the first people to do amateur ‘pay to play’ racing, and did my first Fastnet within a few months of joining them. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was when I found out that offshore was what I loved to do.”

After winning the 1998-99 Clipper Round the World Race, it was in the 2003 Rolex Fastnet Race that Thomson first raced under the colours of HUGO BOSS. With their subsequent support he has gone on to become Britain’s most successful Vendée Globe skipper, podiuming on two occasions.

Of his past Rolex Fastnet Races, Thomson recalls: “My first was in 1995 on a Sigma 36 and it took us more than seven days. The most painful one was when it took us the four days on an IMOCA in 2005!”

The Rolex Fastnet race has played a major part in Alex Thomson’s career and he will compete with HUGO BOSS | Credit: Alex Thomson RacingThe Rolex Fastnet race has played a major part in Alex Thomson’s career and he will compete with HUGO BOSS | Credit: Alex Thomson Racing

Sam Davies, the British Vendée Globe and Volvo Ocean Race skipper, says that the Rolex Fastnet Race inspired her as a teenager growing up in Portsmouth: “As a kid I remember seeing all these boats, the Admiral’s Cuppers, the maxis — the best of the best boats there in Solent to do the Fastnet Race. Hearing the stories from the 1979 race made it even more awe-inspiring. And it seemed just so far! How could people do a race that long?! That’s funny now.”

This will be Sam’s ninth Rolex Fastnet Race, a long way from her first when she was 19 with the parents of top pro sailor Gerry Mitchell on their Jeanneau Sun Legende 41.

“It was a good family-owned racing boat where the husband and wife sailed all the races together. We did all the RORC races and qualifiers — it was very competitive,” she recalled.

At the time Mitchell was en route to the 1993-94 Whitbread Round the World Race on the Dolphin & Youth Whitbread 60 and occasionally he and some of his talented friends would join them. The experience of racing with the Mitchells and the chance to meet future and existing legends of the sport all helped set Sam on track for her future career.

It is for this reason that she feels great pride returning to the Solent on board her state of the art race boat as a major wheel within the world’s most significant offshore fleet. This time she will be racing her IMOCA Initiatives Coeur with French Solitaire du Figaro winner Nicolas Lunven.

Also significant for Sam is that racing in the same part of the IMOCA fleet will be her partner Romain Attanasio. He recently secured funding for his next IMOCA campaign with Fortinet-Best Western and has acquired Boris Herrman’s IMOCA, originally the 2016 vintage Edmond de Rothschild.

“There is a group of us — me, Isa [Joscke on MACSF], SiFi and Jojo [Simon Fisher and Justine Mettraux on 11th Hour Racing] and Romain — on old boats that have been optimised. I am looking forward to that race.”

Sam Davies, the British Vendée Globe and Volvo Ocean Race skipper, was inspired by the Rolex Fastnet Race from a young age | Credit: Maxime Horlaville/polaRYSE/Initiatives-CoeurSam Davies, the British Vendée Globe and Volvo Ocean Race skipper, was inspired by the Rolex Fastnet Race from a young age | Credit: Maxime Horlaville/polaRYSE/Initiatives-Coeur

Sam says the likely IMOCA winners will be the latest generation boats, all of which at least started the last Vendée Globe and which their skippers know better than ever.

The latest generation of foilers come into their own in 12 knots, at which point they foil when the older generation do not. However while they are optimised for the round the world course, to the extent that some are not great upwind, a course like the Rolex Fastnet Race’s could benefit older more all-round boats.

“If we get a light spot or a tricky spot, if it is downwind spinnaker sailing and we are more in the water than out, then all our group of boats will still be in with a chance. That is the good thing about the Rolex Fastnet Race because it is coastal, and tricky racing and there’s tides, it’s summer so there’s probably light winds at some point,” she said.

The latest generation IMOCAs competing currently include Hugo Boss, Apivia, Sebastien Simon’s ArkeaPaprec and Nicolas Troussel’s CORUM L’Epargne, which is currently competing in The Ocean Race Europe. Another to watch will certainly be Jérémie Beyou and Chris Pratt on board Charal, which returns as the defending champion in the IMOCA class.

“This is the first event of the season for us,” says Beyou. “It’s a good rehearsal for the Transat Jacques Vabre on a sporting level and also to prepare the team. We have to be ready for the delivery, the stand-by in Cherbourg, the choice of sails, etc — the whole pre-race routine that's important to test.

“It’s a race we won two years ago, so we hope to do as well, but there are a lot of people and it will be a bit tricky at the start exiting the Solent. There’s a lot to avoid, but it’s great fun, a great show and we’re going to enjoy it too.”

Published in Fastnet

After a record breaking Rolex Fastnet Race, the final race of the RORC Season's Points Championship takes place this weekend writes Louay Habib. After a scintillating season of racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club, current weather models pAfter a record breaking Rolex Fastnet Race, the final race of the RORC Season's Points Championship takes place this weekend. After a scintillating season of racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club, current weather models predict a light airs race, in sharp contrast to a very windy season.

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In IRC Zero Derek Saunders' CM 60, Venomous, has already clinched the class title but no doubt the team will be celebrating in style in Cherbourg, as this is their first series win with the yacht after three years of trying.

Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, has already wrapped up the class win in IRC One and after competing in nine races this season, the sky blue flyer is sitting out the race to Cherbourg. However, in IRC Two Neil Kipling's J/122, Joopster, needs to get a result against Ross Appleby's Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster, to be sure of the season win. Neither of these yachts has won their class for the RORC Season's Points Championship before but the conditions and the points favour Joopster to take their first RORC Season's Points Championship win.

Noel Racine's JPK 10.10, Foggy Dew, has an unassailable lead in IRC Three after picking up maximum points in the Rolex Fastnet Race but the team from Le Havre are still competing in the final race of the season.

IRC Four has been incredibly competitive and after a long and exciting season, the class title looks like going to French JPK 9.60, Ultreia!, skippered by Matthias Kracht. However Harry Heijst's S&S 41, Winsome, and Nigel Goodhew's Sigma 38, Persephone of London, are also racing to Cherbourg and will have a close battle for the runner up spot in IRC Four.

Matthias Kracht, skipper of Ultreia!, is a surgeon but he is obviously proficient in mathematics as he explained:

"By my calculations Ultreia! has a good enough points score in the Two-Handed Class to win the title for the season but we can still be beaten in IRC Four by two yachts, Jean Yves Chateau's Iromiguy, and also Ian Braham's Enigma, so we have decided to race to Cherbourg with a full crew to try to get a good result in IRC Four. Only two yachts have won both the Two-Handed Class and their IRC Class in the same season and they were both British yachts, Slingshot and Psipsina. So it would be a great achievement if we can add a French yacht to that."

Late entries for the RORC Cherbourg Race are possible until Thursday, 1st September, for more information visit: www.rorc.org <http://www.rorc.org>

Published in RORC
Search and rescue mapping software developed in Rhode Island was "instrumental" in efforts to retrieve crewmembers from the stricken Rambler 100 off Fastnet last week.
The SARMAP software, developed by ASA (Applied Science Associates, Inc) provides rapid predictions of the movement of drifting objects and missing persons at sea.
For search and rescue units it can provide search patterns and calculate the probability of containment, probability of detection, and probability of success.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Rambler 100 capsized off the Cork coast while competing in last weekend's Rolex Fastnet Race.
The Rambler 100’s personal locator beacon activated when the yacht overturned, which alerted rescuers to the location of the 16 stranded crewmembers still with the vessel, but recovering the five lost at sea required a more advanced approach.
The Irish Coast Guard employed SARMAP’s sophisticated tracking capabilities to predict the movement of the drifting survivors and calculate a precise search area.
ASA President Eoin Howlett commented: “We have successfully worked with the Irish Coast Guard for many years; they are an innovative agency and have a history of implementing the latest in ocean technologies.
"We are very pleased that our software, combined with their rapid decision-making, resulted in such a positive outcome.”

Search and rescue mapping software developed in Rhode Island was "instrumental" in efforts to retrieve crewmembers from the stricken Rambler 100 off Fastnet last week.

The SARMAP software, developed by ASA (Applied Science Associates, Inc) provides rapid predictions of the movement of drifting objects and missing persons at sea. 

For search and rescue units it can provide search patterns and calculate the probability of containment, probability of detection, and probability of success.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Rambler 100 capsized off the Cork coast while competing in last weekend's Rolex Fastnet Race.

The Rambler 100’s personal locator beacon activated when the yacht overturned, which alerted rescuers to the location of the 16 stranded crewmembers still with the vessel, but recovering the five lost at sea required a more advanced approach.

The Irish Coast Guard used SARMAP’s sophisticated tracking capabilities to predict the movement of the drifting survivors and calculate a precise search area.



ASA president Eoin Howlett commented: “We have successfully worked with the Irish Coast Guard for many years; they are an innovative agency and have a history of implementing the latest in ocean technologies. 

"We are very pleased that our software, combined with their rapid decision-making, resulted in such a positive outcome.”

Published in Fastnet
The capsized Rolex Fastnet Race entrant Rambler 100 was not the only vessel that got into difficulties yesterday as an Aran Islands ferry became stranded off Doolin Pier, according to a report in today's Irish Times.
Rose of Aran, a passenger ferry operated by Aran Doolin Ferries stranded on rocks for three hours, just metres off Doolin Pier when making an approach at 11.30 am to collect passengers travelling to the islands. The ferry was between Crab Island and Doolin pier when it ran aground about 25m from the shore.

According to ferry operator Kevin O'Brien, there were no passengers on board at the time and the vessel got under way again when it was lifted from the rocks with the tide. Mr O'Brien added "this was a very minor incident and there was no damage to the ferry. Doolin is tidal so these things do happen. Even a few inches of water can make a difference".

The Irish Coast Guard was notified of the incident at midday, and its marine rescue co-ordination centre in Dublin requested that members of the local Coast Guard unit board the vessel to assess if there was a pollution risk.

Doolin Coast Guard personnel carried out an inspection and confirmed the ferry had not been damaged and there was no risk of pollution. At about 2.15pm the ferry got under way again with the tide. The company was able to operate services to and from the Aran Islands with its second vessel.

Published in Ferry
An Australian crewmember on the stricken Rambler 100, which capsized in high winds during yesterday's Rolex Fastnet Race, has told reported that he feels "lucky to be alive".
Mike Motti was one of five crew who were separated from the yacht when it overturned near Fastnet Rock off the Cork coast.
He and his fellow crewmembers spent two hours adrift on a liferaft before they were rescued in foggy conditions which made the search all the more difficult.
“I’m feeling lucky to be alive, happy to be here and it’s great to see the local people here to greet us,” Motti told The Irish Times.
Fellow crewman Michael van Beuren said the yacht capsized within 30 seconds when its keel fin snapped in heavy seas.
All 21 crew were rescued from the yacht last night in an operation led by the Baltimore RNLI lifeboat and the Irish Coast Guard.

An Australian crewmember on the stricken Rambler 100, which capsized in high winds during yesterday's Rolex Fastnet Race, has told reported that he feels "lucky to be alive".

Mike Motti was one of five crew who were separated from the yacht when it overturned near Fastnet Rock off the Cork coast. 

He and his fellow crewmembers spent two hours adrift on a liferaft before they were rescued in foggy conditions which made the search all the more difficult.

“I’m feeling lucky to be alive, happy to be here and it’s great to see the local people here to greet us,” Motti told The Irish Times.

Fellow crewman Michael van Beuren said the yacht capsized within 30 seconds when its keel fin snapped in heavy seas.

All 21 crew were rescued from the yacht last night in an operation led by the Baltimore RNLI lifeboat and the Irish Coast Guard.

Published in Fastnet
A US entrant in this year's Rolex Fastnet Race capsizsed near Fastnet Rock off the Cork coast earliert this evening, The Irish Times reports.
Further to our previous report, The Irish Times notes that 22 people were on board the Rambler 100, which overturned in force-five winds at around 6.30pm this evening.
The Department of Transport confirmed that all crew have been accounted for, with 16 sitting in the hull of the boat and the remainer on life rafts.
RNLI Baltimore's lifeboat and the Irish Coast Guard are currently attending. Coastguard helicopters have also been dispacted, with naval vessel LE Clara giving assistance. The rescue effort has been hampered by misty conditions in the area this evening.
Rambler 100 recently set a new world record for the almost 3,000-nautical mile transatlantic crossing from Newport, Rhode Island to Lizard Point in Cornwall with a time of 6 days, 22 hours, 8 minutes and 2 seconds.
Elsewhere, there was disaster in IRC Z this afternoon for co-skippers Karl Kwok and Jim Swartz’s Farr 80 Beau Geste (HKG).
The yacht suffered a ‘structural problem’ while mid-away across the Celtic Sea en route to the Rock. She has since turned her bow back towards Land’s End.
Yesterday there was another high profile retirement when Johnny Vincent’s TP52 Pace (GBR) returned to her berth in the Hamble with mast problems.
In the Class 40s John Harris’ GryphonSolo2 (USA) has also pulled out, retiring to Dartmouth with sail damage.

A US entrant in this year's Rolex Fastnet Race capsizsed near Fastnet Rock off the Cork coast earlier this evening, The Irish Times reports.

Further to our previous report, The Irish Times notes that 22 people were on board the Rambler 100, which overturned in force-five winds at around 6.30pm this evening.

The Department of Transport confirmed that all crew have been accounted for, with 16 sitting in the hull of the boat and the remainer on life rafts. 

ramblertext

Rambler 100 rounds the Fastnet Rock. Photo: Daniel Forster/Rolex

RNLI Baltimore's lifeboat and the Irish Coast Guard are currently attending. Coastguard helicopters have also been dispatched, with naval vessel LE Clara giving assistance. The rescue effort has been hampered by misty conditions in the area this evening.

ramblercapsize

Baltimore lifeboat at the scene of the capsized Rambler 100. Photo: Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex

Rambler 100 recently set a new world record for the almost 3,000-nautical mile transatlantic crossing from Newport, Rhode Island to Lizard Point in Cornwall with a time of 6 days, 22 hours, 8 minutes and 2 seconds.

In other Fastnet action, there was disaster in IRC Z this afternoon for co-skippers Karl Kwok and Jim Swartz’s Farr 80 Beau Geste (HKG).

The yacht suffered a ‘structural problem’ while mid-away across the Celtic Sea en route to the Rock. She has since turned her bow back towards Land’s End. 

Yesterday there was another high profile retirement when Johnny Vincent’s TP52 Pace (GBR) returned to her berth in the Hamble with mast problems. 

In the Class 40s John Harris’ GryphonSolo2 (USA) has also pulled out, retiring to Dartmouth with sail damage.

Published in Fastnet

The waiting is nearly over: the 44th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race, one of the great ocean challenges, is exactly a month away. With a staggering 350 entrants at the ready, 1979's record-breaking tally of 303 participating yachts will almost certainly be surpassed. The sheer size of the fleet is impressive. Its quality and diversity quite breathtaking. Inspiring and exhilarating in equal measure, there is every reason to believe that the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race will maintain the event's pioneering and prestigious tradition.

The numbers game

Due to the Rolex Fastnet's unique allure, event organisers the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) never have any difficulty ensuring that there is a large and impressive fleet in attendance. This year is no exception. Entries came in thick and fast and were closed within ten days of opening in January. However, the requests kept arriving. After being inundated with additional enquiries from the Volvo Open 70s, the IMOCA 60s, Class 40s and Multihulls to join the 608-nautical mile marathon, the RORC adjusted the entry limit to allow these 'professional' classes to be counted above the initial cut-off mark.

The Rolex Fastnet Race commences from Cowes on Sunday 14 August (the first signal sounds at 10:50 BST). Whilst crews with the ambition of being the fastest to the finish will hope to spend only one or two nights at sea, spare a thought for those at the back of the pack, for whom a near week in often punishing conditions may be the order of the day. Rambler 100 enjoying

Leopard hunt

Short of a catastrophic breakdown, the fastest boat on the water at the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race will be the 100-foot trimaran, Banque Populaire (FRA), which just broke the round the Britain Isles record by almost a day and a half. However, the battle for monohull line honours is the most anticipated clash and is expected to be the privilege of two other 100-ft challengers: Mike Slade's ICAP Leopard (GBR), first elapsed-time finisher in the past two editions, and arch-rivals George David's Rambler 100 (USA). The two crews know each other extremely well, given their series of tussles in recent months. A head-to-head battle in the Transatlantic Race, which saw Rambler 100 ease to line honours after ICAP Leopard lost her bowsprit, the freshest encounter. "Having won the Rolex Fastnet Race twice, the big play is to win three in a row, which would be quite exceptional," explains Slade, whose yacht also holds the course record of 1 day, 20 hours and 18 minutes [set in 2007]. "During the RORC Caribbean 600, Rambler 100 proved to be the faster boat in her ideal conditions. However, Rambler 100 may also need to protect herself in bad weather, more than ICAP Leopard. We feel we have a good chance in light and heavy airs, it is the bit in between that we might have a problem! I am really looking forward to the Fastnet, it should be a very exciting race but above all else, I don't want to lose our record to Rambler 100, that would be heartbreaking and we will vigorously defend it."

Rambler 100 is as keen to renew hostilities. "We're anticipating sailing in Cowes Week from 9-11 August and hope ICAP Leopard and others will be competing as well," explains David, "we've had three races together already, the Caribbean 600, the Annapolis to Newport and now the Transatlantic Race. Rambler 100 took line honours and corrected ahead of ICAP Leopard in all three." David is fervent about the upcoming Fastnet Race and describes his own personal highlights of the parcours: "Beating out through The Needles in a huge fleet, the beauty of the south coast of England, the approach to the [Fastnet] Rock, and the wind and weather conditions all over the place." Whilst these two ocean greyhounds are clear monohull line honours favourites, they may not have it all their own way. There is the significant presence of six Volvo 70s, including two of the latest breed: Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Groupama IV (FRA). Then there is the Mini Maxi class including defending Rolex Fastnet handicap winner, the 72-ft Rán (GBR), owned by Niklas Zennström, in addition to Andres Soriano's Mills 68 Alegre (GBR), a fantastic campaigner in the Mediterranean in recent seasons. Throwing in the American challengers, the STP65 Vanquish, and the Reichel-Pugh 66 Zaraffa, who like ICAP Leopard and Rambler 100 competed in the Transatlantic Race, it promises to be a tight contest at the top of the fleet.

Tales from the foreign third

Of the record breaking 350 yachts competing at this year's Rolex Fastnet Race, approximately a third are non-British crews. A scan of the 2011 entry list highlights the global pull of the event, with yachts competing from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the UAE and the USA. Karl Kwok, owner of the 80-ft Beau Geste (HKG), will be taking part in the event for the third time. "I am definitely here for the challenge as this is one of the most interesting and competitive offshore races in the world," he explains. "My first time here was in 1995, followed by my second appearance in the last edition [in 2009]. We did well on that occasion, but it could be better still!" Kwok adores offshore racing: "For me the top three blue water offshore classics are the Fastnet, Sydney to Hobart and Newport to Bermuda – in that order. And Rolex has the top two!" Beau Geste will be another yacht snapping at the heels of the 100-footers and also arrive in Cowes fresh from competing in the Transatlantic Race.

One overseas crew in particular has reason to treasure its association with the Rolex Fastnet. Six years ago, Frenchman Jean Yves Chateau's 33-ft Nicholson Iromiguy won the competition on corrected time, the first time in three decades that the overall prize had been won by a yacht under 40 feet. For the Saint Malo-based skipper, the victory was both a surprise and a fulfilment of an ambition: "To win the Rolex Fastnet Race was like a childhood dream, it is like an 'Everest' in my life and in the life of each member of my crew: absolutely fantastic, unbelievable, gorgeous, not to mention the incredible fact of having beaten all the big guys. It was also very important for me to be the third French sailor to win this race and to have my name engraved on this Cup close to Eric Tabarly [the legendary French skipper who won the race in 1967]!" Regarding the 'draw' of the Rolex Fastnet, Chateau continues: "It is a mythical race. This year will be our seventh time and we are always very pleased and enthusiastic to participate with the crazy dream of winning it one more time." Amongst the sizeable French contingent is the intriguing story of the IMOCA 60 DCNS 100 (FRA), sailed by skipper Marc Thiercelin and his famous apprentice, former downhill skier and endurance motorsport driver, Luc Alphand <http://www.regattanews.com/pressrelease.asp?pid=100549&;lang=1> . DCNS 100 is one of seven IMOCA 60s, including Cheminées Poujoulat (SUI) launched in May this year.

John Towers is helming the J/122 Oojah (GBR) with a US-based crew joining British boat owner Peter Tanner, their navigator for the race. The English Channel is some distance from their usual racing haven of the east coast of the United States. "As a group of Americans, we consider the Rolex Fastnet Race to be a once in a lifetime adventure that is a natural compliment to our passion for distance racing," explains Towers, "the Fastnet is a big deal for us and an adventure that we have been planning for the last two years." Tanner continues: "Our goal will be the same as any other race we enter. Priority one is a safe passage. Priority two is that the experience is very positive for all members of the crew. Our third priority is to be competitive."

Triple TP52 challenge

The three TP52s competing at the Rolex Fastnet Race will resume their engagement having been near inseparable at the recent Giraglia Rolex Cup. On that occasion, Franck Noël's Near Miss (SUI) finished the 243-nautical mile race less than two minutes ahead of Johnny Vincent's Pace (GBR). Bryon Ehrhart's Lucky (USA) was only a further hour behind. On corrected time, only seven places separated the three crews, with Pace coming out on top. Over a considerably longer distance, this 'race within a race' will be one to follow come August.

Back of the pack

The crew of the Contessa-32 Drumbeat (GBR) will likely have one opportunity to admire ICAP Leopard and Rambler 100 - during the passage out of the Solent. For co-skippers and brothers-in-law, Mark Himsworth and Pierre Walrafen, the race ahead will be one of endurance and, at times, solitude: "It feels amazing to be one of the smallest and slowest boats competing, tacking or gybing down the Solent against much larger and faster machines after the start. All the while competing on handicap directly against them," explains Himsworth, who will be taking part in the Rolex Fastnet for a third time. The reality soon becomes quite different, as Himsworth reveals: "After 24 hours, most of the competition is long gone. Thereafter it's occasionally difficult to keep your mind away from the thought of the faster boats turning towards (or arriving at) Plymouth while ours plugs steadily westwards round Land's End. It's a pretty solitary undertaking when you're on watch and your co-skipper's sleeping and none of your competitors are visible, but that's all part of the attraction, and there's still plenty going on in Plymouth when we arrive!"

Trophy hunt

The main trophy for overall victory in the Rolex Fastnet is the Fastnet Challenge Cup. In addition, there are more than 30 additional trophies that will be awarded at the prize giving on Friday, 19 August at the historic Royal Citadel, home of the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, overlooking Plymouth Sound and Sutton Harbour, where the majority of the fleet will berth.

Further information on the Rolex Fastnet Race may be found at http://fastnet.rorc.org/

Published in Fastnet

The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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