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Dowling and Smyth to Co-Skipper Royal Irish Yacht Arabella in Fastnet Race

18th July 2011
Dowling and Smyth to Co-Skipper Royal Irish Yacht Arabella in Fastnet Race
With less than a month to go the Fastnet race Niall Dowling and Nick Smyth will be co skippering the J111 'Arabella' under the burgee of the Royal Irish Yacht Club. 'Arabella' the first J111 in Europe has had an extensive offshore campaign since winning the Hamble Spring Series in April. The Fastnet Race is the focus of their 2011 campaign.

'Arabella' currently lies 2nd out of over 300 boats in the RORC Overall Series behind Piet Vroon"s Kerr 46 Tonnerre de Breskens. Crew for the Fastnet will include Class 40 sailor John Cunningham, GBR Olympic Finn coach Matt Howard, Volvo sailor Craig Bowie. Also on board Dowling's long term friend, skipper and double handed campaigner Michael Boyd a veteran of many Fastnet campaigns the first of which was on the Irish Admirals Cup team in 1983 will further bolster the offshore experience. The dynamic duo of Peter Knight and Aaron Cooper both amongst the elite graduates of the Solent Keelboat Academy will cover roles of bowman and navigator respectively.

When asked about the campaign Dowling said "this campaign is all about getting a group of friends that used to sail a lot together back out there. Nick and I used to race dinghies, instructed sailing together in Dun Laoghaire and campaigned offshore. Nick has been doing lot of competitive team racing but until this campaign the last offshore race we did together with Michael was the Round Ireland race in 2006 ... . The RORC Eddystone Race in May definitely showed there were no cobwebs as Nick drove most of the way back from the lighthouse topping out at 22.6 knots and averaging mid teens! John although normally based in the US has been doing a fellowship at Cambridge University and has been on board since the boat arrived". Irish Olympic Finn sailor Tim Goodbody and the National Yacht Club's now Brighton based boat designer Jonny Coate are also regulars on board. For the Fastnet there will be a competitive fleet of 77 boats in IRC2 where 'Arabella' currently lies 2nd in the series behind RORC commodore Andrew Mc Irvine's First 40 'La Reponse'.

Published in Fastnet
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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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