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.