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Fastnet Yacht Race. News from the RORC Offshore Race Event
The Fastnet Rock – “Ireland’s tear-drop” - continues to be the turning point of the Rolex Fastnet Race on its new 2021 course to Cherbourg in France
Well, there’s been something in the air for long enough about the future of the Rolex Fastnet Race writes W M Nixon. Back in September 2018, we were testing a few ideas about where it might go here And on…
Rolex Fastnet Race fleet in Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour
Organisers of the Rolex Fastnet Race have citied “infrastructre” issues in their decision to move the finish of the 2021 and 2023 races from Plymouth to Cherbourg. And in a press conference announcing the move this afternoon (Tuesday 26 November), the…
L to R: Benoît Arrive, Mayor of Cherbourg-en-Contentin, Marc Lefevre, Chairman of County Council of Manche, Steven Anderson, RORC Commodore, Jean-Louis Valentin, Chairman of Urban Community of Cotentin, Isabelle Vandenberghe, Elected Member of Regional Council of Normandy Geneviève Gosselin-Fleury, Chairman Tourism of Cotentin, Eddie Warden Owen (RORC CEO)
The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), organisers of the Rolex Fastnet Race, announced at a press conference today that the City of Cherbourg will host the finish of the Rolex Fastnet Race for the 2021 and 2023 editions of the…
A major announcement about the biennial Fastnet Race is expected at lunch time
The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) is heralding big changes to its world's largest offshore race, the Rolex Fastnet Race at lunchtime today. The offshore club has invited members of the press to a Briefing concerning the world's largest offshore race, at its…
April English, widow of the renowned professional yachtsman Joe English, who sailed on board Moonduster in the tragic 1979 Fastnet Race, at a wreath-laying ceremony near Howth commemorating the 40th anniversary of the tragedy
When an “explosion of a storm” tore its way through the Fastnet yacht race off the Irish coast 40 years ago, there were those among the survivors who could not speak about the experience for years writes Lorna Siggins However, over…
Commodore John Kavanagh, formerly Officer Commanding Naval Service. In 1979 as Captain John Kavanagh, he was in command of the LE Deirdre which played a central role in the Fastnet Disaster Rescue and was on station for longer than any other vessel
The significant role played by the Irish Naval Service in the 1979 Fastnet Race Disaster has sometimes been overlooked in the dramatic images of helicopters and lifeboats in direct action writes W Nixon. But in fact the LE Deirdre under…
The Watson 47 lifeboat The Robert, heroine of the 1979 Fastnet Storm, as she is today - restored by Jeff Houlgrave
It was the 15th August 1979 by the time the full horror of the effects of the Fastnet Race storm had become apparent writes W M Nixon, and today is the most quietly poignant in 2019’s sequence of recollection and…
RTE's 'Back To The Rock' Adventure Story of Fastnet '79 Disaster
Last weekend's popular documentary series on RTE Radio One dealt with the 1979 Fastnet Yacht Race disaster. 21 people died, many boats were dismasted, abandoned or sunk as the race became a fight to stay alive.  RTE's Back To The Rock is…
Conor Doyle’s Freya in the Kinsale-Monkstown Race, when she completed the course in two hours
Conor Doyle’s Xp 50 Freya from Kinsale – which placed tenth in Class IRC 1A - looks to be the 2019 winner of the Gull Salver for the best-placed Irish boat on corrected time overall in the current Rolex Fastnet…
 It may be Ireland’s Fastnet Rock at dawn, but it’s yet another successful French boat greeting the new day as veteran French sailor Catherine Pourre in her French-designed and French-built Class 40 Earendi races on to place third overall in Class40 in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019
The “Wimbledon Effect” is pretty well complete with the Rolex Fastnet Race generally, and with the 2019 event, in particular, writes W M Nixon. As with Wimbledon tennis itself, the English organize a jolly good event with this classic offshore challenge,…
The Juan K-designed Volvo 70 Wizard, overall winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019
When veteran French skipper Gery Trentesaux’s JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommande crossed the Rolex Fastnet Race finish line in Plymouth at 11.22 BST this morning and corrected into fifth place overall a clear 2 hours and 16 minutes behind Peter &…
The new JPK 10.30 Leon rounds the Fastnet Rock at 5.0pm yesterday. Sailed by her builder Jean-Pierre Kelbert and Alex Loisson, she currently leads the Fastnet Race Two-Handed Division and is first in IRC3 and IRC3B
Strong southwest winds last night – with Met Eireann issuing a Small Craft Warning at 2100 hrs – gave the more determinedly sailed smaller craft a fighting chance of significantly improving their overall standing in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019,…
IMOCA 60 line honours for Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt and their shore crew after arriving in Plymouth
While IMOCA 60s are renowned for racing non-stop around the world in the Vendée Globe, the doublehanded crews of these extraordinary space-age craft appreciate the Rolex Fastnet Race as it offers most conditions of a round the world race within…
Rambler 88 rounds the Fastnet on her way to monohull line honours victory
American Owner George David, skipper of Rambler 88 the monohull line Fastnet Race winner has again paid tribute to the RNLI Lifeboat crew in Baltimore West Cork who rescued him after he capsized at the rock eight years ago. "We know…
Last gasp victory – the Ultime 32 Gitana XVII aka Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (left) snatches a 58 second victory from Macif to establish a new Mulithull Course record in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019
The great George David’s Rambler 88 – holder of the Round Ireland monohull record – finished the Rolex Fastnet Race at 0955 this morning to take mono-hull line honours, but the final run into Plymouth from the Scillies put paid to a…
The Maxi Edmund De Rothschild, has won multihull line honours in the 48th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race
The new breed of Ultime 32 trimarans have lived up to their name and reputation with the leading pair of Gitana XVII and Macif slashing more than four and a half hours off the record time for the 608-mile Rolex…

The Rolex Fastnet Race - This biennial offshore pilgrimage attracts crews from all walks of life:- from aspiring sailors to professional crews; all ages and all professions. Some are racing for charity, others for a personal challenge. For the world's top professional sailors, it is a 'must-do' race. For some, it will be their first-ever race, and for others, something they have competed in for over 50 years! The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between.  The testing course passes eight famous landmarks along the route: The Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, the Lizard, Land’s End, the Fastnet Rock, Bishop’s Rock off the Scillies and Plymouth breakwater (now Cherbourg for 2021 and 2023). After the start in Cowes, the fleet heads westward down The Solent, before exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. The finish is in Plymouth, Devon via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland

  • The leg across the Celtic Sea to (and from) the Fastnet Rock is known to be unpredictable and challenging. The competitors are exposed to fast-moving Atlantic weather systems and the fleet often encounter tough conditions
  • Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements. Crews have to manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course
  • The symbol of the race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland, the Rock marks an evocative turning point in the challenging race
  • Once sailors reach the Fastnet Rock, they are well over halfway to the finish in Plymouth. The lighthouse first shone its light on New Year’s Day in 1854
  • Fastnet Rock originally had six keepers (now unmanned), with four on the rock at a time with the other two on leave. Each man did four weeks on, two weeks off

At A Glance – Fastnet Race

  • The world's largest offshore yacht race
  • The biennial race is 605 nautical miles - Cowes, Fastnet Rock, Plymouth
  • A fleet of over 400 yachts regularly will take part
  • The international fleet is made up of over 26 countries
  • Multihull course record: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes (2011, Banque Populaire V)
  • Monohull course record: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi)
  • Largest IRC Rated boat is the 100ft (30.48m) Scallywag 100 (HKG)
  • Some of the Smallest boats in the fleet are 30 footers
  • Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001
  • The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result

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