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Fastnet Calling for a Dozen Boats of Irish Interest

11th August 2011
Fastnet Calling for a Dozen Boats of Irish Interest
There are a dozen boats among a fleet of 350 for Sunday's Fastnet race that are either Irish or of Irish interest. Afloat's July 26th story on the Irish in the Fastnet story gave details on some of these boats and now on the eve of the race here's some more.

Irish interest boats range from a round the world VOR 70 bearing Irish colours to a Cork based First 36.7.

Team Sanya will be racing in a refurbished version of the Telefónica Blue boat that finished on the podium in the last race and the new livery shown off after some furious work in Hamble, England displays a multicoloured design representing the phoenix, the mythical bird that has good-luck status in China.

Skipper Mike Sanderson left two spots open in the crew list he named on Saturday, with at least one of those places to go to a Chinese sailor.

Irishman Frankie Leonard had already been announced as Media Crew member. See here for his first blog.

Navigator Aksel Magdahl was among the stand-out names on a sailing team list with a distinct New Zealand flavour.

Joining Sanderson, himself a Kiwi, are fellow New Zealanders Richard Mason, Chris Main, Andy Meikeljohn, Ryan Houston, and Cameron Dunn.

Sanderson will use the Rolex Fastnet Race, which starts on August 14, to give a trial to China's Teng Jiang He, nicknamed Tiger.

"Despite starting this campaign late in the day, I am really excited about the team we have gathered together and that applies to both the sailing and shore team," said Sanderson.

"Without realising it, we have a really young and ambitious sailing team – the average age is 33 and I am the oldest at 40.

"We have managed to bring together a combination of experience in all of the right areas as well a fresh and innovative approach and that feels really right for this team.

"We still have two sailing team members to announce and we have our first Chinese sailing team member, Tiger, on a trial with us now and he will compete in the Fastnet race with us so all is progressing really well."

Sanya will be up against Volvo Ocean Race rivals Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (with Wexford's Justin Slattery) and Groupama (Kerry's Damian Foxall) in the Fastnet.

One of Dun Laoghaire's leading offshore campaigners Legally Brunette (Cathal Drohan and Paul Egan) is poised to start the Fastnet for the second time. The boat is doing the race with regular crew, save that Frank Allen, one of our regulars, is substituting for Cathal Drohan as skipper, as Cathal has personal commitments that prevent him racing.

Legally Brunette has had a reasonable run of success since getting the boat in 2007. They came second in the 2007 Dun Laoghaire Dingle with regular crew, losing out to Aquelina on adjusted time of roughly 30 minutes in a slow race. Two years later Prof O'Connell was able to improve on this in 2009 by coming first using some of our regulars as well as some of his own favourite crew.

In the 2009 Fastnet Legally Brunette was 106th out of 266 on the first attempt. The ambition, says Egan is to try to improve on that and 'enjoy our sailing while we're at it'.

In the 2009 Fastnet Race Legally Brunette was snookered near the start by Portland Bill. There was a slow start and although the very big boats were able to make the tidal gate there, the smaller ones had no chance of so doing. They made a late decision to tack out and would probably have been better to do so earlier. The crew's recollection of the beat to the Fastnet is not a fond memory – it was wet, cold, misty and miserable – all we saw of the Fastnet rock were the breaking waves on the rocks there, as visibility was down to a few boat lengths. 'Part of our drive to do the race again is to exorcise that memory' says Egan.

Others ready for the start are Adrian Lee's Cookson 50 Lee Overlay and Dutch yacht and current Round Ireland race winner Piet Vroon's Tonnerre de Breskens.

Dun Laoghaire sailing school have entered their yacht Sailing West, Liam Coyne's First 36.7 Lulabelle is in and Barry Hurley's Transatlantic winner Dinah is also entered, as is Paddy Cronin's Psipina and David Gibbons Joker.

Published in Fastnet Team

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Fastnet Yacht Race 

This race is both a blue riband international yachting fixture and a biennial offshore pilgrimage that 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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