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Emotional Sailing Moment for O'Leary Family as Antix Rounds Fastnet Rock

14th August 2013
Emotional Sailing Moment for O'Leary Family as Antix Rounds Fastnet Rock

#Fastnet – Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39, Antix, rounded the Fastnet Rock on 13 August at 19:10:54, an emotional moment for the all-Irish crew. From the bow to the stern of the boat, Antix personifies the long history and passion of the Rolex Fastnet Race

On the bow, 22 year-old Jamie Donegan is the fifth generation of his family to have taken part, Henry Donegan having competed in the first Fastnet Race in 1925, aboard Gull, which was built in 1895 as WM Nixon recounted in his Sailing on Saturday blog last weekend.

"Henry Donegan was my great great Grandfather and on board was his son, also called Henry; it's a bit of a family name," smiled Jamie. "It wasn't until 1983, that Yellow Scampi raced around the Rock with Jim Donegan and his son Peter on board and I am the fifth generation to take part. I have been on the bow of Antix for the last two years and I have grown up with Anthony O'Leary's son Robert.

"The Fastnet Rock is so close to my home and it will be hard to turn around and go back, but I intend to do my family proud and enjoy the race and hopefully, this race will be the first of many."

Jamie Donegan may be the only sailor in the Rolex Fastnet Race to count a five-generation Fastnet affair but Peter and Robert O'Leary are the fourth generation of their family to have competed in the iconic race as their father, and skipper of Antix, Anthony O'Leary, explains.

A marriage of yachting dynasties
"This will be my first Fastnet since 1977. My wife Sally competed in the notorious 1979 race. She is the daughter of Sir Robin Aisher and by that lineage, Robert and Peter are fourth generation competitors. I proposed to Sally straight after the 1979 race and we have three boys from our marriage but this year is the first time I have taken part in the Fastnet Race with any of them. When we pass the Rock, we will be just 3 miles from Cape Clear and I am sure we will hear the clinking of glasses in Baltimore, as we round the Rock."

As Antix rounded the Fastnet Rock on Tuesday evening, Sally O'Leary was there, in appalling weather, cheering on her husband, her sons and the proud Irish crew on board. "I didn't shed a tear but it is a moment I will never forget; watching them in the rain, hiking hard after a 400-mile beat. To be honest I was happy not to be on board.," observed Sally, as Antix turned back across the Celtic Sea, to finish the 45th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Antix has three Baltimore Lifeboatmen amongst the crew, who assisted in the rescue of the Rambler 100 crew in the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race.

Antix crew: Anthony O'Leary, Pat Collins, Cathal Cottrell, Fred Cudmore, Jamie Donegan,Youen Jacob, Ross McDonald, Darragh O' Connor, Robert O'Leary, Peter O'Leary, Ian Travers.

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
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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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