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RORC ‘Might Consider’ Plymouth For Fastnet Race Finish In 2025

26th November 2019
Rolex Fastnet Race fleet in Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour Rolex Fastnet Race fleet in Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour Photo: Barbican Waterfront

Organisers of the Rolex Fastnet Race have citied “infrastructre” issues in their decision to move the finish of the 2021 and 2023 races from Plymouth to Cherbourg.

And in a press conference announcing the move this afternoon (Tuesday 26 November), the Royal Ocean Racing Club said it “might consider” the traditional host city for the 100th anniversary of the offshore race in 2025.

“We place considerable value on the traditions of the race, and we respect Plymouth’s association with the race history, and indeed the formation of this club,” said RORC Commodore Steven Anderson.

“But we don’t believe that this should restrict the ability of the race to develop and to satisfy the demand there is for people to compete in the race.

“We have been working closely throughout this year with Plymouth City Council and we very much appreciate all they did for us this year in the 2019 edition.

“Plymouth are developing some plans for infrastructure and if and when they come to fruition, that would be something that we might consider for the 100th anniversary in 2025, and we will continue to work with them during that time.”

As reported earlier on Afloat.ie, the RORC announced that the French city of Cherbourg on the English Channel will host the finish of the biennial race’s next two editions — a move the organisers say encourages and secures the future development of a race that had a waiting list of 150 boats for this year’s running.

Rumours that Plymouth might lose its traditional hosting of the Fastnet Race began circulating over year ago.

More recently, the Devon coastal city lost its hosting of The Transat to France, with Brest set to host the start of the 60th anniversary of the four-yearly race next year.

MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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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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