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50th Fastnet Race Date Announced by RORC - Saturday, 22nd July 2023

2nd December 2021
The rounding of Ireland's Fastnet Rock is a memorable moment for every competitor
The rounding of Ireland's Fastnet Rock is a memorable moment for every competitor Credit: Kurt Arrigo

Following the success of the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race from Cowes to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and its French partners are delighted to announce the date for the next edition of its flagship event in 2023. The 50th edition of the world’s largest offshore race will start from the Royal Yacht Squadron line on Saturday 22nd July, 2023, prior to the annual Cowes Week festivities.

Jean-Louis Valentin, President of the Arrival Fastnet Cherbourg Association comments: “We are delighted to once again welcome the arrival of the mythical Rolex Fastnet Race in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin in 2023. The Association and Public Partners; the City of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, the Agglomeration Community du Cotentin, the Department of Manche and the Normandy Region continue to work hand-in-hand to welcome this great international maritime race to our region. The new date of 22nd July 2023 will attract more people and we will again offer a warm welcome to sailors before the start of the race and a big party at the finish. Our teams are already working with the RORC to make the arrival of this 50th edition a great festival and friendly event for everyone.”

“We will all be looking forward to taking part in what will be a very special anniversary year for the Rolex Fastnet Race. Following the resounding success of this year’s edition, we will again be finishing in Cherbourg and expect to attract a record entry. We feel certain that our partners in France (City of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, the Agglomeration Community du Cotentin, the Department of Manche and the Normandy Region) will ensure competitors and visitors receive the same warm welcome and will be able to celebrate the golden jubilee race in inimitable French style,” comments RORC Commodore, James Neville.

Tom Kneen and crew on his JPK 11.80 Sunrise - jubilant after winning the Fastnet Challenge Cup in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race Photo: Paul WyethTom Kneen and crew on his JPK 11.80 Sunrise - jubilant after winning the Fastnet Challenge Cup in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race Photo: Paul Wyeth

“The 50th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race will run before Cowes Week in 2023 in order to cope with the berthing needs of the large fleet prior to the start on 22nd July, and pre-event registration will again be offered to competitors in Cherbourg. We are excited to be working with our hosts once more for the finish of this great race and expect it to be even better than the 2021 event,” says Race Director, Chris Stone.

The mighty Maxi Skorpios established a monohull record for the new course of 2 days 8 hrs 33 mins and 55 secsThe mighty Maxi Skorpios established a monohull record for the new course of 2 days 8 hrs 33 mins and 55 secs

The biennial 690 nautical mile race is a rite of passage for all those taking part and is one of the very few global events where Corinthian sailors can compete on the same race course as their sporting heroes. The ultimate goal is to take home the overall trophy; the historic Fastnet Challenge Cup - first presented back in 1925, but for most sailors, to complete the race and the tough personal challenge; to test their mettle against others in their class, or to compete against hundreds of passionate sailors from around the globe, is the main attraction of this renowned classic offshore race.

The arrival of the immense fleet will once again be eagerly anticipated, with spectators enjoying the atmosphere of the international yachting festival as boats complete the 690 nautical mile course from Cowes to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, via the Fastnet Rock. Starting with the first arrivals from the 23rd of July, the daily influx of international competitors on a diverse range of boats culminates in a memorable prizegiving to mark the 50th Rolex Fastnet Race in Cherbourg on Friday 28th July 2023.

Published in Fastnet

Fastnet Race Live Tracker 2021

Track the progress of the 2021 Fastnet Yacht Race fleet on the live tracker above 

The 49th edition of the 700-mile race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club starts on Sunday, August 8th from Cowes.

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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

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Fastnet Race 2023 Date

The 2023 50th Rolex Fastnet Race will start on Saturday, 22nd July 2023

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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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