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Virbac-Paprec 3 rising to the challenge of the Fastnet

11th August 2011
Virbac-Paprec 3 rising to the challenge of the Fastnet

On Sunday Virbac-Paprec 3 will be lining up for the start of the 44th Rolex Fastnet Race. Jean-Pierre Dick will be assisted by Guillaume Le Brec as he takes on the 608-mile challenge that runs from Cowes to Plymouth via the legendary Fastnet Rock. Of the 350 boats entering the race, six are IMOCA class vessels: Virbac-Paprec 3, Cheminées Poujoulat, DCNS 1000, Hugo Boss, PRB, and Safran.  His third Fastnet, Jean-Pierre tells us what's on his mind as he prepares for the starting gun.

"The Rolex Fastnet Race allows us to stay in the game as we get ready for the Transat Jacques Vabre. The IMOCA class is well-represented so it's going to be interesting. We shall be continuing our on-board tests, looking at how the sails behave in close-quarter racing conditions. We're willing to learn and change things if necessary. Conditions in the r ace should be pretty variable so we need to be in top form to handle the boat intelligently and give the race all the energy we've got.

The Rolex Fastnet Race is a legendary race! I've entered twice before and got good results. Second in 2005 and first Frenchman, fifth overall in 1987. I've nothing but great memories."

Why did you choose Guillaume Le Brec for the job of first mate?

"Guillaume sails Mini 6.50s for my team and he's an enormous talent. We've gone over the route, crunched the weather data, and he knows the boat well. He's sailed on her for deliveries and has plenty of experience on IMOCA 60s.

He's the natural choice when Jérémie Beyou, my crew for the Transat Jacques Vabre, is sailing in the Solitaire du Figaro. Jérémie's been doing great in the Figaro, he's currently leading the field! It's a good thing for the project because he's racing all the time."

And what's this about carrying a media man?

"Laurent Simon is responsible for Virbac-Paprec Sailing Team's communication and he'll be sailing with us to get an inside view of the race and send back photos, videos and reports in real time. It's a great opportunity for him to test the new equipment we've had installed. Thanks to Laurent we'll be able to concentrate on the job of sailing."

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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
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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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