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MOD70 Trimaran PowerPlay Breaks Original Fastnet Course Speed Record

7th April 2021
MOD 70 PowerPlay led by Peter Cunningham starts the world record attempt for the Fastnet Course
MOD 70 PowerPlay led by Peter Cunningham starts the world speed record attempt for the Fastnet Course Credit: Lloyd Images

MOD70 Trimaran PowerPlay, led by Peter Cunningham and skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield, has completed the original Fastnet Course of 595 nautical miles in a new world record of 25hrs 04mins 18secs. *Subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

“It was kind of ambitious, but the conditions were right, and the team was ready to go,” commented Peter Cunningham. “The PowerPlay crew was fantastic. Miles (Seddon) did a brilliant job navigating, we had two wonderful drivers in Ned Collier Wakefield, who set up the boat and runs the programme, and the fastest sailor on Earth, Paul Larsen, who drove in some incredibly bad conditions.”

PowerPlay rounded the famous Fastnet Lighthouse off the coast of County Cork on Monday night.  The historic 595nm course starts from Cowes IOW, around Lands' End, across the Celtic Sea, around the Fastnet Lighthouse off the coast of Ireland, and finishing at the Plymouth Breakwater. PowerPlay rounded the famous Fastnet Lighthouse off the coast of County Cork on Monday night. The historic 595nm course starts from Cowes IOW, around Lands' End, across the Celtic Sea, around the Fastnet Lighthouse off the coast of Ireland, and finishing at the Plymouth Breakwater. 

Shortly after midday on Monday 05 April, in a bitterly cold strong northerly wind. PowerPlay started their Fastnet record attempt on the Squadron Line at Cowes. PowerPlay made short work of racing to Lands' End and powered across the Celtic Sea at speeds in excess of 30 knots. PowerPlay rounded the famous Fastnet Lighthouse and raced through the night. On Tuesday 06 April, at 13:42 and 19 seconds BST, PowerPlay reached the Plymouth Breakwater, where the team celebrated their amazing run of 25 hours, 4 minutes and 18 seconds.

The PowerPlay team celebrated their amazing run of 25 hours, 4 minutes and 18 secondsThe PowerPlay team celebrated their amazing run of 25 hours, 4 minutes and 18 seconds Photo: Lloyd images

“We didn’t leave much out there, we were pushing really hard and everything aligned,” commented PowerPlay Skipper Ned Collier Wakefield. “I am not going to lie, it was pretty full on, especially in April with an arctic northerly with snow around. With the apparent wind we saw 50 knots over the deck, and we hit a top speed of just under 40 knots. The lads did a brilliant job, changing sails about every half an hour – It was rough, physical and very cold. As a crew we have done cumulatively over 50 Fastnet Races, we love the course and to do it faster than it has been done before is really cool.”

PowerPlay Crew for Fastnet Course Record: Peter Cunningham, Ned Collier Wakefield, Tom Dawson, John Hamilton, Paul Larsen, Jack Trigger, Miles Seddon, Martin Watts PowerPlay Crew for Fastnet Course Record: Peter Cunningham, Ned Collier Wakefield, Tom Dawson, John Hamilton, Paul Larsen, Jack Trigger, Miles Seddon, Martin Watts. Photo: Lloyd images

The historic 595nm course starts from Cowes IOW, around Lands' End, across the Celtic Sea, around the Fastnet Lighthouse off the coast of Ireland, and finishing at the Plymouth Breakwater.
PowerPlay’s run is over two hours quicker than the record set by Phaedo3 in 2015.

The first Fastnet Race was in 1925 and won by Jolie Brise which took over six days to finish the course.

Published in Fastnet
Louay Habib

About The Author

Louay Habib

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Louay Habib is a Maritime Journalist & Broadcaster based in Hamble, United Kingdom

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RORC Fastnet Race

This race is both a blue riband international yachting fixture and a biennial offshore pilgrimage that 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 for 2021 is in Cherbourg 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 Cherbourg.

Fastnet Race - FAQs

The 49th edition of the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race will start from the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, UK on Sunday 8th August 2021.

The next two editions of the race in 2021 and 2023 will finish in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin at the head of the Normandy peninsula, France

Over 300. A record fleet is once again anticipated for the world's largest offshore yacht race.

The international fleet attracts both enthusiastic amateur, the seasoned offshore racer, as well as out-and-out professionals from all corners of the world.

Boats of all shapes, sizes and age take part in this historic race, from 9m-34m (30-110ft) – and everything in between.

The Fastnet Race multihull course record is: 1 day 4 hours 2 minutes and 26 seconds (2019, Ultim Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, Franck Cammas / Charles Caudrelier)

The Fastnet Race monohull course record is: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing).

David and Peter Askew's American VO70 Wizard won the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race, claiming the Fastnet Challenge Cup for 1st in IRC Overall.

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.

The winner of the first Fastnet Race was the former pilot cutter Jolie Brise, a boat that is still sailing today.

Cork sailor Henry P F Donegan (1870-1940), who gave his total support for the Fastnet Race from its inception in 1925 and competed in the inaugural race in his 43ft cutter Gull from Cork.

Ireland has won the Fastnet Race twice. In 1987 the Dubois 40 Irish Independent won the Fastnet Race overall for the first time and then in 2007 – all of twenty years after Irish Independent’s win – Ireland secured the overall win again this time thanks to Ger O’Rourke’s Cookson 50 Chieftain from the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland in Kilrush.

©Afloat 2020

Fastnet Race 2021 Date

The 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race will start on Sunday 8th August 2021.

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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