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Fascinated by Fastnet: Johnston first NI sailor to enter double-handed

4th August 2009
Fascinated by Fastnet: Johnston first NI sailor to enter double-handed
Philip Johnston was born 30 years ago, the year of the Fastnet Disaster, and on the 9 August, in less than two weeks time, Philip will make history as the first Northern Irish sailor to enter this famous Rolex Fastnet Race Double-handed no less! Of the 300 entries, there are only 30 double-handed boats.

Philip and Nick Martin will sail Diablo J, a J105. The boat is 34ft and normally raced by 6 or 7 people! So the most sleep these guys are likely to get is 1.5 hours at a single stretch, and that could well be on deck. They won't get to change out of their sailing gear for the expected five days of the voyage.

They will never really rest as they will be sailing and navigating non-stop, constantly trying to get the best out of this boat and coping with whatever challenges the weather may throw at them. This is a boat that can sail at up to 20 knots. So not for the faint-hearted.

Philip has been training extensively for this Fastnet Double-handed. And he and Nick on Diablo J, have steadily been making their way up the leaderboard this summer, from 4th in the St Malo Rsce to 2nd in the Morgan Cup Race to 1st in the Nab Tower Race. This pair are quite a force to be reckoned with!

Philip has been sailing since he was ten years old. Having raced in cadets, toppers, laser and laser 2 at National and European level. He started in keel boats with local races and first taste of offshore was the Ailsa Craig race from Bangor to Portpatrick in Scotland via the famous Ailsa Craig rock. At 18 he sailed with the late renowned sailor Hugh Ennis on the famous Moonlighter, and won they won their class in West Highland Week. Bangor, Cork, Cowes and Tarbet Week followed.

Philip was educated at Bangor Grammar School in Northern Ireland, and Solent University in Southampton where he studied Marine Management. It was here that he grew to love off shore racing in cross channel races. He has also raced 1720s and SB3s.

In 2006, he was 2nd overall in the Irish Commodores Cup Team. In 2007, in the Fastnet Race, he was 6th in his class. In 2008, he was 8th overall in GB Commodore’s Cup Team, and 2nd in his class in Round Ireland Race.

His next ambition is to sail in the 2010 Figaro 2 handed AGR2 TransAtlantic Race – April 2010 – and enter the Round Britain and Ireland two-handed

You can track and follow the progress of Philip Johnston on Diablo J on the Fastnet Official website.

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