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Sign up for this mornung's e-bulletin (see past editions here) for all the weekend's Irish sailing news, pics and results straight to your inbox.

This morning's edition includes photos and pics from Sunday's Figaro departure from Dun Laoghaire and the Rick Tomlinson's pics of the start of the Fastnet race from Cowes. Derry-Londonderry is on her way to Rio in the Clipper race. Regrettably there was no Gold, Silver or Bronze from Weymouth but we're in a strong position. See our video with Annalise here. Plus: The Topper Worlds at the National YC, John Lavery's win at the Flying fifteen South coast champs in Dunmore East, the J24 Nationals from Lough Erne, A local pair whitewashed the RS Feva Nationals in Cork Harbour, some great shots from Bob Bateman. The Oppy Nationals start in Howth and Afloat's Sailor of the Month for July Martin Byrne retained the Dragon Nationals in Kinsale. There's also the full weekend results from Dublin Bay SC.

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Published in Racing
The record-sized Rolex Fastnet Race fleet set sail from Cowes in classic conditions - a beat westward up the Solent in a building west-southwesterly and sunshine, but with an ominous looking cloud line over the mainland. SCROLL DOWN FOR RICK TOMLINSON'S PICS)

In the end there were 314 starters, the largest fleet ever to start the Rolex Fastnet Race following the previous record of 303 in 1979.

The first start at 1100 BST saw the giant multihulls heading off. Fastest out of the blocks were Gitana 11 (FRA), the 23.5m trimaran skippered by Vendee Globe and Volvo Ocean Race skipper Sebastien Josse and Roland Jourdain's MOD70 Veolia Environnement (FRA). With round the world yachtswoman Dee Caffari manning her aft grinders, Veolia's sistership, Steve Ravussin's Race For Water (SUI), was over the line early and had to restart.

Visible from most parts of the Solent with her 40 meter long hulls and 47 meter tall mast, the world's fastest offshore boat, the Loick Peyron-skippered Maxi Banque Populaire (FRA) trimaran, thundered across the line and had reached the Needles within an hour, sailing upwind at more than 20 knots. Five hours after starting, Banque Populaire was already approaching Start Point, close to 100 miles down the southwest coast from the start.

Next up were the IMOCA 60 monohulls, and by the Needles, Marc Guillemot -- Yann Elies doublehander Safran (FRA), were leading the newer generation boats.

The ebb tide was beginning to kick in by the time the Class 40s started and most chose to hug the island shore in the most favourable current. By the time they reached the Needles, Tanguy de la Motte's 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race winner, Initiatives-Alex Olivier (FRA), was a nose ahead of the two Kiwi 40s, Roaring Forty 2 (BEL) and Peraspera (ITA). Shortly after passing through Hurst Narrows there was disaster for the Italian entry, Eutourist Serv-System, when she dismasted.

The wind against tide conditions, that were particularly severe at Hurst Narrows at the western entrance to the Solent, would subsequently take their toll on the 43-foot trimaran, Strontium Dog (GBR), that also suffered a dismasting.

The most impressive display were the smaller IRC boats, funnelling their way through Hurst Narrows, and slowly being overhauled by the larger boats that started after. Doing well in IRC 1 was the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens (NED), skippered by veteran sailor Piet Vroon, competing in his 23rd Rolex Fastnet Race.

Prior to leaving Cowes Yacht Haven this morning, Vroon wasn't keen to make many predictions about how this race would unfold. He offered, "A big boat race? It could be an advantage for the bigger boats as they will make Portland and they could get to the Rock before the big wind comes.
"But I don't know. We are bigger than a lot of the small ones! If it is going to be in excess of 30 knots to windward, then it will be hard for the small boats."

Vroon, who won the Rolex Fastnet Race in 2001 said he was expecting to finish sometime on Wednesday morning. "Once we took six days and once we took 68 hours, I believe. So anything in between is good!"

As expected in IRC Zero, the Jim Swartz/Karl Kwok co-skippered Farr 80 Beau Geste (HKG) appeared to be doing well, leading her class through Hurst Narrows ahead of the two silver streaks: Niklas Zennström's 72 foot Ràn (GBR) with Andres Soriano's 68-foot Alegre (GBR) hot on her heels.

Forging their way up the fleet was the intriguing match between the three Volvo Open 70s, due to set off on their round-the-world race this autumn. This is the first time these boats have lined up in anger, and while all three were close as they beat through Hurst Narrows, it was Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (UAE), skippered by double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker, that was leading former round-the-world race winner Mike Sanderson on Team Sanya (CHN), with Franck Cammas' Groupama 4 (FRA) bringing up the rear.

There was a hurrah for British sailing fans as the two largest monohulls in the Rolex Fastnet Race fleet thundered up their way up the Solent, with Mike Slade's 100 foot ICAP Leopard (GBR) ahead of the more highly-rated Rambler 100 (USA) of George David. The reason for this was that ten minutes after the gun, Rambler had split her headsail in two and the crew had to scramble to set a replacement.

Before the giant fleet had left the Solent, there were a number of casualties. In addition to the two dismastings, the First 375 Little Spirit (GBR) suffered damage to her forestay during a collision with the Bavaria 44 Emerald Star (GBR) and was forced to retire, as was IRC 3 Howling Monkey (GBR) holed in a collision with the J/109 Jambo! (GBR). The canting-keeled Prodigy (GBR) also retired, with mainsail damage.

Conditions for the bulk of the fleet tonight should be relatively fast, particularly for the smaller boats, which will benefit from the wind veering north of west, as the boats further up the course are set to remain headed.

The main trophy for overall victory in the Rolex Fastnet is the Fastnet Challenge Cup. In addition, there are more than 30 other trophies that will be awarded at the prize giving on Friday, 19 August at the historic Royal Citadel. The Citadel, home to the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, overlooks Plymouth Sound and Sutton Harbour, where the majority of the fleet will berth.
Published in Fastnet
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The largest, most diverse fleet of racing boats ever in offshore yachting set sail this morning in the Rolex Fastnet Race.
The biennial flagship event of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, a tradition since 1925, will take the fleet some 608 miles from Cowes on the Isle of Wight along the UK's south coast and across the Celtc Sea to Fastnet Rock off the Cork coastline, before returning past the Scilly Isles to the finish line at Plymouth.
An incredible 318 yachts are competing this year and they come in all shapes and sizes, from the 40m trimaran Maxi Banque Populaire to the 9.1m Rogers 30, Brightwork.
The majority of the fleet will be racing under the IRC for the Fastnet Challenge Cup, won by the crew that sails best to their rating. The weather will play a big part in this, as a fast start and slow finish favours bigger boats - so far today looks to be the opposite.
The 45-55 foot boats will surely provide the most competitive action, with past Fastnet winner Piet Vroon piloting his championship-leading Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens towards another victory.
Fans of the Volvo Ocean Race will also be watching the race live tracker intently today, as this is one of the only times many of the competitors will line up together before the start of the round-the-world yachting challenge.
www.fastnet.rorc.org
Regatta News has more on the story HERE.

The largest, most diverse fleet of racing boats ever in offshore yachting set sail this morning in the Rolex Fastnet Race.

The biennial flagship event of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, a tradition since 1925, will take the fleet some 608 miles from Cowes on the Isle of Wight along the UK's south coast and across the Celtc Sea to Fastnet Rock off the Cork coastline, before returning past the Scilly Isles to the finish line at Plymouth.

An incredible 318 yachts are competing this year and they come in all shapes and sizes, from the 40m trimaran Maxi Banque Populaire to the 9.1m Rogers 30, Brightwork.

The majority of the fleet will be racing under the IRC for the Fastnet Challenge Cup, won by the crew that sails best to their rating. The weather will play a big part in this, as a fast start and slow finish favours bigger boats - so far today looks to be the opposite.

The 45-55 foot boats will surely provide the most competitive action, with past Fastnet winner Piet Vroon piloting his championship-leading Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens towards another victory.

Fans of the Volvo Ocean Race will also be watching the race live tracker intently today, as this is one of the only times many of the competitors will line up together before the start of the round-the-world yachting challenge.

Regatta News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fastnet
With just over two days left until the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race, a press conference was held yesterday in the Sir Max Aitken Museum in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. It was a case of standing room only for the international press that will be covering the Rolex Fastnet Race, the oldest and most prestigious offshore yacht race in the world.

Eddie Warden Owen, Chief Executive of the Royal Ocean Racing Club summed up the quality and quantity of this year's race: "The 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race is not just a record fleet, it is a fantastic fleet from professional high performance racing yachts to family owned production yachts raced by corinthian sailors. The biggest yacht is a 140' Trimaran, Maxi Banque Populaire and the smallest, Brightwork a 30' cruising yacht. It is an amazing array of yachts, quite outstanding."

RORC Commodore, Andrew McIrvine will be racing his First 40, La Réponse and the Commodore has had to qualify for this race just like all of the 300 hundred yachts racing under IRC.

"Besides a large fleet of professional teams racing, there are thousands of sailors competing for the Fastnet Challenge Cup. The Rolex Fastnet Race is a challenge for any of the competitors and this year, the Royal Ocean Racing Club has had a really windy season, so in qualifying for the Race, the competitors are very well prepared. This race was sold out in 11 days back in January. It looks like we are going to have a fantastic race and everybody is really looking forward to it," commented McIrvine.

George David, skipper of Rambler 100, has been enjoying an incredible season, winning the RORC Caribbean 600 overall and taking line honours in last month's Transatlantic Race. The 100' canting keel Maxi is the hot favourite to take line honours for the monohull division, but David is not taking anything for granted: "The weather forecast suggests that we should have wind for the race, there is disagreement about the direction with different forecast models, but it looks as though we should have wind of 12-20 knots, maybe more. We think we could have a shot at the record, but we will see how things go. My main concern when racing is that in order to come first, first you have to finish."

Ross and Campbell Field, the father and son team from New Zealand are both highly accomplished professional sailors, but are new to the Class 40 scene and this will be their
first race together on Hupane. There are over 20 Class 40s in the Rolex Fastnet Race, arguably the most competitive fleet assembled this year.

"I have done a lot of sailing with my Dad and we get on just fine. We are new to the class and we decided to enter this race with a very strong field to see where we are compared to the experienced and successful teams, but we are under no illusions, this is a very good fleet of Class 40s. On board, sometimes I call him Dad, other times Ross, it depends on what message we are trying to get across." said Campbell.

Henry Smith is a squad member of the British Keelboat Academy and will be skippering Yeoman of Wight, which has been loaned to the Academy for young aspiring sailors by former RORC Commodore, David Aisher: "It has always been a personal goal, it is an iconic race and one that I have always wanted to do and this will be my first time. The team on Yeoman are all young, the average age of the crew is 21 and it is very exciting for all of us to be competing, a bit of an Everest really."

In sharp contrast to the young crew on Yeoman of Wight, Ken Newman will be competing in his 27th Fastnet Race in Marinero. Ken reminisced about his first race: "I am in awe sitting here with these supreme sailors. I am glad to be here, but at the age of 82 and a quarter, I am glad to be anywhere! My first Fastnet was in 1957 when 40 boats left Cowes in a gale and by the time we got to Brixham, we had lost both halliards. I had to row ashore to get new blocks which I don't think I paid for. How times have changed since then."

The largest yacht competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race is without doubt the quickest. The 140' Trimaran, Maxi Banque Populaire is skippered by the legendary Loick Peyron and amongst the 14 crew on board is helmsman, Brian Thompson, holder of over 20 world records. "Banque Populaire is capable of reaching and maintaining a speed of nearly 40 knots for several hours. We recently completed a 360 mile race in 12 hours. My dream would be to finish the race with just one night at sea and get in late on Monday night, but the weather may not cooperate.  We would like to thank the RORC for allowing big multihulls into the race and add an extra dimension to it. This year, it is an unbelievable fleet, the best Rolex Fastnet Race ever, possibly the best ocean race ever."

The Rolex Fastnet Race starts on Sunday 14th August at 1100 BST. All of the competing yachts will be fitted with the latest tracking systems from Yellowbrick and many of the yachts are capable of sending back messages, pictures and even video of the drama as it unfolds.

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Sign up for Monday's Afloat e-bulletin (see past editions here) for all this weekend's Irish sailing news, pics and results straight to your inbox.

Monday's edition includes photos and pics from Sunday's Figaro departure from Dun Laoghaire and the start of the Fastnet race from Cowes. Will it be Gold, Silver or Bronze from Weymouth? How will Peter, David and Annalise end up at the Pre-Olympics? Plus: The Topper Worlds at the National YC, Flying fifteen South coast champs in Dunmore East, the J24 Nationals from Lough Erne, Teens battle for the RS Feva Nationals in Cork Harbour,  the Cove People's Regatta, The Oppy Nationals at Howth and the Dragon Nationals from Kinsale. There's also the full results from Dublin Bay SC and Howth.

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Published in Racing
To the south of Ireland, on an isolated rock some five miles from land, the Fastnet Lighthouse is a mythical mark for the world's sailors. Created in 1925, the Rolex Fastnet Race brings together this summer 323 boats measuring between 10 and 40 metres, including six 60-foot IMOCA monohulls. Marc Guillemot and Yann Eliès will be at the start on Safran at 1 p.m on 14th August as they prepare for the Transat Jacques Vabre...

There have never been as many entrants before for what is one of the world's oldest races. 323 crews will be setting out from the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes (Isle of Wight-GB) with a finish in Plymouth after rounding the Irish lighthouse and completing the 608 miles of the race course, in what are often windy conditions. The Fastnet, built in 1854 on the Carraig Aonar, the lone rock in Gaelic, was the final part of the European coast that the emigrants saw as they made their way to the United States in steamers... Organised every other year in odd years by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race is the 44th edition of the race, with the record time of 1d 20h 18' held by the monohull ICAL Leopard since 2007...

Time to practice

For Safran which has just completed a training period in La Trinité-sur-Mer after smashing the Round Britain and Ireland record, the Rolex Fastnet Race is above all a taster before the main event of the season, the Transat Jacques Vabre: "The five other IMOCA 60 boats will be racing double-handed, so this is a good way to see how we can do against the latest generation like PRB, Cheminées Poujoulat, Virbac-Paprec3, but also Hugo Boss and DCNS 1000. After our training in La Trinité-sur-Mer, we needed a complete change with a technical course with a range of wind, sea and tidal conditions," explained Marc Guillemot, who arrived on the Isle of Wight on Wednesday.

The 608-mile course tests not only performance capabilities on coastal courses, but also the sailors' abilities in an ocean race. It requires a lot of preparation as well as a good speed potential. "The start is to take place with a North-westerly wind blowing between 10 and 15 knots with squalls likely in the Channel Approaches. In the Celtic Sea, a front should be passing over before the Fastnet Lighthouse and then there are likely to be high-pressure conditions becoming established with an easterly wind accompanying them all the way to the finish in Plymouth. The race will essentially be an upwind affair in moderate winds locally reaching 15-20 knots... They can look forward to at least two days at sea," explained Sylvain Mondon of Météo France.

Finding their feet

Marc Guillemot and Yann Eliès know 60-foot IMOCA boats and double-handed sailing well, having already sailed together in these difficult and sometimes rough seas. That was the case in the Solitaire du Figaro, at the finish or start of transatlantic races and indeed during the Round Britain and Ireland trip. "The Rolex Fastnet Race is a rehearsal for us, a mock exam, a chance to try some double-handed racing. As Safran is a demanding boat and this year's race looks like being rather rough, it means it is going to be similar to what we can expect at the start of the transatlantic race with the exit from the Channel and the voyage across the Bay of Biscay. I raced in this event in 2007 sailing double-handed: it was my first chance to get to know IMOCA 60 sailing and it was an excellent way to rehearse. The course itself is something we know well having taken part in the Solitaire du Figaro: The Fastnet Lighthouse is one of the most beautiful sights from the sea there is in Europe..." explained Yann Eliès.

In the middle of the choppy waters of the Solent, the stretch of water separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland, more than 300 boats will be setting off with a series of starts scheduled from 1200 hrs local time on 14th August. Safran and the five other Imoca 60 boats taking part will quickly be out there with the serious stuff facing the opposition: Marc Guillemot and Yann Eliès will have to find their feet very quickly ...

Published in Fastnet
Magic catamaran Phaedo will set sail in Sunday's Fastnet race with top Irish navigator Ian Moore calling the shots. There's more Irish crew on Phaedo too with Limerick's Jeff Condell also slated for the race.

Team Phaedo stayed attached to the dock yesterday, due to high winds and not wanting any unnecessary damage to the boat before Sunday's Race.

They may not have hit the water .. but they ramped up their preparations for the tough offshore challenge of the race ahead of themselves.

The current team on Phaedo for the Fastnet is a serious line up: Owner; Lloyd Thornburg, Captain; Paul Hand, Mate; Nick Crespi, Navigator; Ian Moore, Tactician; Andy Beadsworth, Crew; Ben Bungartz, Jeff Condell, Sam Bason, and Brian Sharp.

Check out the below movie of the boats preparations and the crew onboard:

Published in Fastnet

On Sunday Virbac-Paprec 3 will be lining up for the start of the 44th Rolex Fastnet Race. Jean-Pierre Dick will be assisted by Guillaume Le Brec as he takes on the 608-mile challenge that runs from Cowes to Plymouth via the legendary Fastnet Rock. Of the 350 boats entering the race, six are IMOCA class vessels: Virbac-Paprec 3, Cheminées Poujoulat, DCNS 1000, Hugo Boss, PRB, and Safran.  His third Fastnet, Jean-Pierre tells us what's on his mind as he prepares for the starting gun.

"The Rolex Fastnet Race allows us to stay in the game as we get ready for the Transat Jacques Vabre. The IMOCA class is well-represented so it's going to be interesting. We shall be continuing our on-board tests, looking at how the sails behave in close-quarter racing conditions. We're willing to learn and change things if necessary. Conditions in the r ace should be pretty variable so we need to be in top form to handle the boat intelligently and give the race all the energy we've got.

The Rolex Fastnet Race is a legendary race! I've entered twice before and got good results. Second in 2005 and first Frenchman, fifth overall in 1987. I've nothing but great memories."

Why did you choose Guillaume Le Brec for the job of first mate?

"Guillaume sails Mini 6.50s for my team and he's an enormous talent. We've gone over the route, crunched the weather data, and he knows the boat well. He's sailed on her for deliveries and has plenty of experience on IMOCA 60s.

He's the natural choice when Jérémie Beyou, my crew for the Transat Jacques Vabre, is sailing in the Solitaire du Figaro. Jérémie's been doing great in the Figaro, he's currently leading the field! It's a good thing for the project because he's racing all the time."

And what's this about carrying a media man?

"Laurent Simon is responsible for Virbac-Paprec Sailing Team's communication and he'll be sailing with us to get an inside view of the race and send back photos, videos and reports in real time. It's a great opportunity for him to test the new equipment we've had installed. Thanks to Laurent we'll be able to concentrate on the job of sailing."

Published in Fastnet
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There are a dozen boats among a fleet of 350 for Sunday's Fastnet race that are either Irish or of Irish interest. Afloat's July 26th story on the Irish in the Fastnet story gave details on some of these boats and now on the eve of the race here's some more.

Irish interest boats range from a round the world VOR 70 bearing Irish colours to a Cork based First 36.7.

Team Sanya will be racing in a refurbished version of the Telefónica Blue boat that finished on the podium in the last race and the new livery shown off after some furious work in Hamble, England displays a multicoloured design representing the phoenix, the mythical bird that has good-luck status in China.

Skipper Mike Sanderson left two spots open in the crew list he named on Saturday, with at least one of those places to go to a Chinese sailor.

Irishman Frankie Leonard had already been announced as Media Crew member. See here for his first blog.

Navigator Aksel Magdahl was among the stand-out names on a sailing team list with a distinct New Zealand flavour.

Joining Sanderson, himself a Kiwi, are fellow New Zealanders Richard Mason, Chris Main, Andy Meikeljohn, Ryan Houston, and Cameron Dunn.

Sanderson will use the Rolex Fastnet Race, which starts on August 14, to give a trial to China's Teng Jiang He, nicknamed Tiger.

"Despite starting this campaign late in the day, I am really excited about the team we have gathered together and that applies to both the sailing and shore team," said Sanderson.

"Without realising it, we have a really young and ambitious sailing team – the average age is 33 and I am the oldest at 40.

"We have managed to bring together a combination of experience in all of the right areas as well a fresh and innovative approach and that feels really right for this team.

"We still have two sailing team members to announce and we have our first Chinese sailing team member, Tiger, on a trial with us now and he will compete in the Fastnet race with us so all is progressing really well."

Sanya will be up against Volvo Ocean Race rivals Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (with Wexford's Justin Slattery) and Groupama (Kerry's Damian Foxall) in the Fastnet.

One of Dun Laoghaire's leading offshore campaigners Legally Brunette (Cathal Drohan and Paul Egan) is poised to start the Fastnet for the second time. The boat is doing the race with regular crew, save that Frank Allen, one of our regulars, is substituting for Cathal Drohan as skipper, as Cathal has personal commitments that prevent him racing.

Legally Brunette has had a reasonable run of success since getting the boat in 2007. They came second in the 2007 Dun Laoghaire Dingle with regular crew, losing out to Aquelina on adjusted time of roughly 30 minutes in a slow race. Two years later Prof O'Connell was able to improve on this in 2009 by coming first using some of our regulars as well as some of his own favourite crew.

In the 2009 Fastnet Legally Brunette was 106th out of 266 on the first attempt. The ambition, says Egan is to try to improve on that and 'enjoy our sailing while we're at it'.

In the 2009 Fastnet Race Legally Brunette was snookered near the start by Portland Bill. There was a slow start and although the very big boats were able to make the tidal gate there, the smaller ones had no chance of so doing. They made a late decision to tack out and would probably have been better to do so earlier. The crew's recollection of the beat to the Fastnet is not a fond memory – it was wet, cold, misty and miserable – all we saw of the Fastnet rock were the breaking waves on the rocks there, as visibility was down to a few boat lengths. 'Part of our drive to do the race again is to exorcise that memory' says Egan.

Others ready for the start are Adrian Lee's Cookson 50 Lee Overlay and Dutch yacht and current Round Ireland race winner Piet Vroon's Tonnerre de Breskens.

Dun Laoghaire sailing school have entered their yacht Sailing West, Liam Coyne's First 36.7 Lulabelle is in and Barry Hurley's Transatlantic winner Dinah is also entered, as is Paddy Cronin's Psipina and David Gibbons Joker.

Published in Fastnet
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In just over two weeks' time, on Sunday 14th August, the biggest fleet ever (350 boats) will set sail from Cowes to take on one of the ultimate challenges in offshore racing – the Rolex Fastnet Race – a milestone for all sailors. Among this record fleet will be ten Irish yachts - a few are highlighted here:

ARABELLA, J111, Niall Dowling

Niall Dowling and Nick Smyth will be co-skippering the J111 'Arabella' under the burgee of the Royal Irish Yacht Club. 'Arabella', the first J111 in Europe, has had an extensive offshore campaign since winning the Hamble Spring Series in April. The Fastnet Race is the focus of their 2011 campaign.

Arabella currently lies 2nd out of over 300 boats in the RORC Overall Championship Series behind Piet Vroon's Kerr 46 Tonnerre de Breskens. Crew for the Rolex Fastnet will include Class 40 sailor, John Cunningham, GBR Olympic Finn coach Matt Howard and Volvo sailor Craig Bowie. Also on board is Dowling's long term friend, skipper and double handed campaigner Michael Boyd. Boyd is a veteran of many Fastnet campaigns, the first of which was on the Irish Admirals Cup team in 1983, will further bolster the offshore experience. The dynamic duo of Peter Knight and Aaron Cooper both amongst the elite graduates of the Solent Keelboat Academy will cover roles of bowman and navigator respectively.

When asked about the campaign Dowling commented: "This campaign is all about getting a group of friends that used to sail a lot together, back out there. Nick and I used to race dinghies, instructed sailing together in Dun Laoghaire and campaigned offshore. Nick has been doing lot of competitive team racing but until this campaign, the last offshore race we did together with Michael was the Round Ireland Race in 2006."

"The RORC Eddystone Race in May definitely showed there were no cobwebs as Nick drove most of the way back from the lighthouse topping out at 22.6 knots and averaging mid teens! John, although normally based in the US, has been doing a fellowship at Cambridge University and has been on board since the boat arrived".

Irish Olympic Finn sailor Tim Goodbody and the National Yacht Club's now Brighton based boat designer Jonny Coate are also regulars on board. For the Rolex Fastnet there will be a competitive fleet of 77 boats in IRC2 where Arabella currently lies 2nd in the series behind RORC commodore Andrew Mc Irvine's First 40 La Reponse.

DINAH, JOD35, Barry Hurley

Owner and skipper Barry Hurley will also be flying the flag for the Royal Irish Yacht Club onboard Dinah, a JOD35.

Barry will be sailing with Andy Boyle and between them they have clocked up an impressive amount of racing, including three transatlantic, three Round Ireland Races, two full RORC series campaigns and many more fully crewed regattas,including Cork Week, Sovereigns Cup, etc.

Barry won his class and was fourth overall on Dinah in the 2009 OSTAR (solo transatlantic). The Fastnet Race is one of the few major middle distance

offshore races in the world that neither Barry nor Andy have completed and 2011 is the year to tick that box.

SPIRIT OF JACANA, J133, Bruce, James and Alan Douglas, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim

This boat is owned by the three Douglas brothers. The brothers and most of the crew are ex Scorpion dinghy sailors from Northern Ireland. The brothers previously owned a J35 Jacana and in this were class winners at Cork Week and at the Scottish series.

This really is a family affair as two of the brothers sons are also competing, Keith and Cameron Douglas. Cameron has a busy summer as he is representing RYA Team GBR at the ISAF Youth Worlds in the Laser Radial class in July and also at the Team Race Worlds in Ireland in September.

This is the first Fastnet Race for the crew who have sailed in a number of offshore races in Ireland and Scotland. "Having competed at various racing events such as Cork Week and Scottish Series, we wanted to take on other challenges. [Our goal for the Fastnet will be] to finish the race and enjoy the experience!"

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