Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Fastnet Yacht Race. News from the RORC Offshore Race Event
Carrickfergus navigator Ian Moore
One big overall win has eluded Northern Ireland navigator Ian Moore - in nine attempts at the Rolex Fastnet Race Moore’s team has made the podium twice but failed to win the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s flagship race. Ian is fascinated…
Monday 10th August 1987, and the Dubois 40 Irish Independent arrives at the Fastnet Rock, on her way to winning the Fastnet Race overall, and becoming top scorer for Ireland in the Admiral’s Cup.
In 2025, the Centenary of the RORC Fastnet Race – arguably the world’s most famous offshore challenge – will be sailed. Until recently, it would have seemed a bit odd to be focusing on a Centenary all of five years…
The Fastnet Rock – “Ireland’s tear-drop” - continues to be the turning point of the Rolex Fastnet Race on its new 2021 course to Cherbourg in France
Well, there’s been something in the air for long enough about the future of the Rolex Fastnet Race writes W M Nixon. Back in September 2018, we were testing a few ideas about where it might go here And on…
Rolex Fastnet Race fleet in Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour
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…
L to R: Benoît Arrive, Mayor of Cherbourg-en-Contentin, Marc Lefevre, Chairman of County Council of Manche, Steven Anderson, RORC Commodore, Jean-Louis Valentin, Chairman of Urban Community of Cotentin, Isabelle Vandenberghe, Elected Member of Regional Council of Normandy Geneviève Gosselin-Fleury, Chairman Tourism of Cotentin, Eddie Warden Owen (RORC CEO)
The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), organisers of the Rolex Fastnet Race, announced at a press conference today that the City of Cherbourg will host the finish of the Rolex Fastnet Race for the 2021 and 2023 editions of the…
A major announcement about the biennial Fastnet Race is expected at lunch time
The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) is heralding big changes to its world's largest offshore race, the Rolex Fastnet Race at lunchtime today. The offshore club has invited members of the press to a Briefing concerning the world's largest offshore race, at its…
April English, widow of the renowned professional yachtsman Joe English, who sailed on board Moonduster in the tragic 1979 Fastnet Race, at a wreath-laying ceremony near Howth commemorating the 40th anniversary of the tragedy
When an “explosion of a storm” tore its way through the Fastnet yacht race off the Irish coast 40 years ago, there were those among the survivors who could not speak about the experience for years writes Lorna Siggins However, over…
Commodore John Kavanagh, formerly Officer Commanding Naval Service. In 1979 as Captain John Kavanagh, he was in command of the LE Deirdre which played a central role in the Fastnet Disaster Rescue and was on station for longer than any other vessel
The significant role played by the Irish Naval Service in the 1979 Fastnet Race Disaster has sometimes been overlooked in the dramatic images of helicopters and lifeboats in direct action writes W Nixon. But in fact the LE Deirdre under…
The Watson 47 lifeboat The Robert, heroine of the 1979 Fastnet Storm, as she is today - restored by Jeff Houlgrave
It was the 15th August 1979 by the time the full horror of the effects of the Fastnet Race storm had become apparent writes W M Nixon, and today is the most quietly poignant in 2019’s sequence of recollection and…
RTE's 'Back To The Rock' Adventure Story of Fastnet '79 Disaster
Last weekend's popular documentary series on RTE Radio One dealt with the 1979 Fastnet Yacht Race disaster. 21 people died, many boats were dismasted, abandoned or sunk as the race became a fight to stay alive.  RTE's Back To The Rock is…
Conor Doyle’s Freya in the Kinsale-Monkstown Race, when she completed the course in two hours
Conor Doyle’s Xp 50 Freya from Kinsale – which placed tenth in Class IRC 1A - looks to be the 2019 winner of the Gull Salver for the best-placed Irish boat on corrected time overall in the current Rolex Fastnet…
 It may be Ireland’s Fastnet Rock at dawn, but it’s yet another successful French boat greeting the new day as veteran French sailor Catherine Pourre in her French-designed and French-built Class 40 Earendi races on to place third overall in Class40 in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019
The “Wimbledon Effect” is pretty well complete with the Rolex Fastnet Race generally, and with the 2019 event, in particular, writes W M Nixon. As with Wimbledon tennis itself, the English organize a jolly good event with this classic offshore challenge,…
The Juan K-designed Volvo 70 Wizard, overall winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019
When veteran French skipper Gery Trentesaux’s JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommande crossed the Rolex Fastnet Race finish line in Plymouth at 11.22 BST this morning and corrected into fifth place overall a clear 2 hours and 16 minutes behind Peter &…
The new JPK 10.30 Leon rounds the Fastnet Rock at 5.0pm yesterday. Sailed by her builder Jean-Pierre Kelbert and Alex Loisson, she currently leads the Fastnet Race Two-Handed Division and is first in IRC3 and IRC3B
Strong southwest winds last night – with Met Eireann issuing a Small Craft Warning at 2100 hrs – gave the more determinedly sailed smaller craft a fighting chance of significantly improving their overall standing in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019,…
IMOCA 60 line honours for Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt and their shore crew after arriving in Plymouth
While IMOCA 60s are renowned for racing non-stop around the world in the Vendée Globe, the doublehanded crews of these extraordinary space-age craft appreciate the Rolex Fastnet Race as it offers most conditions of a round the world race within…
Rambler 88 rounds the Fastnet on her way to monohull line honours victory
American Owner George David, skipper of Rambler 88 the monohull line Fastnet Race winner has again paid tribute to the RNLI Lifeboat crew in Baltimore West Cork who rescued him after he capsized at the rock eight years ago. "We know…

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

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating