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Fastnet Rock’s Iconic Appeal to be “Monetised" (April Fool 2019!)

1st April 2019
A new dawn for island finances. The Fastnet Rock – “Ireland’s tear-drop” - could become a useful flow of income for nearby Cape Clear A new dawn for island finances. The Fastnet Rock – “Ireland’s tear-drop” - could become a useful flow of income for nearby Cape Clear Photo: RORC/Rolex

Following the news that the 340 places in the biennial RORC Rolex Fastnet Race had been snapped up within minutes of entries for 2019’s race opening, Afloat understands that the Community Council on Cape Clear Island – the nearest part of Ireland to the famous rock - has been considering submissions about how best to monetise their very special rock’s unmistakable marketing appeal.

“We don’t want to appear greedy or grasping” a spokeswoman said, "but the fact is that since 1925, the international offshore racing community – a notably affluent group – have been making regular use of a very important piece of our land without paying a cent for it. It may well be that we’ve had some indirect long-term tourism benefits from the continuous appearance of the Fastnet Rock in photographs and as an international symbol of offshore racing. But we feel that it is now time for a more practical direct payment for the benefit of our isolated community”.

Cape Clear Island sources tell Afloat.ie that one way of raising income would be a “Fastnet Charge”, to be levied by the RORC as part of the entry fee, and then subsequently paid to the Community Council. The islanders are well aware of the enormous size range of boats in the Fastnet fleet, and they insist that the levy should reflect this. The suggestion is that for 2019, the fee should be €5 per metre of overall length, but the “Capers” assure us that Irish entries would be exempt, unless it became obvious that all sorts of boat-owners from all over the world were claiming to be Irish.

As negotiations are still at a preliminary and very delicate stage, Afloat.ie has been unable to get any comment on the matter from either the Royal Ocean Racing Club or sponsors Rolex. But the word in Baltimore and Schull is that the folk on the nearby mainland are with the Capers all the way, and the latest suggestion from the West Cork shore is that noted sailing celebrity and summer local Jeremy Irons of Kilcoe Castle be invited to become a Patron of the recently-formed Fellowship Administering Fastnet Fund.

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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