Published: Thursday, 16 March 2017

With entries flocking in and reaching the 340 limit for IRC within 4min 24sec on January 9, the 47th Rolex Fastnet Race is set to start from the Royal Yacht Squadron line to the north of Cowes at 1200BST on August 6 and finishes on 11. The biennial event is organised by Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) with Rolex as the Title Sponsor. 

Rolex Fastnet Race Records Largest Fleet In History 1

(Photos: Kurt Arrigo, Carlo Borlenghi, Daniel Forster / Rolex - Rolex Fastnet Race 2015)

The non-IRC fleet will include the first occasion the eight VO65s, which will compete in the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race. There will be about 400 boats expected to make up the combined IRC and non-IRC fleet, which will be the largest entry in the race’s 92-year history.

The Rolex Fastnet Race is one of the world's oldest offshore races, but the 605-mile course will see the fleet battle their way through an upwind westbound slog along the south coast of England, then full exposure to the open Atlantic Ocean on the crossings to the Fastnet Rock (lying four miles off southwest Ireland) and back, before leaving Bishop Rock and the Scilly Isles to port, en route to the finish off in Plymouth.

Rolex Fastnet Race Records Largest Fleet In History

Nick Elliott, Racing Manager of the RORC, said: "It is within easy access for the largest fleets of offshore-capable yachts anywhere in the world.”

In order to prevent a repeat of the accident that cost 15 crew of their lives in the 1979 edition, the safety and qualification requirements for yachts and crews have improved.

The fleet ranges from the 100ft Ultime trimarans to the Volvo Ocean Race one designs, to the IMOCA 60s. The Class40s will be the biggest non-IRC class with 34 boats competing.

Rolex Fastnet Race Records Largest Fleet In History 2

In the IRC fleet, some highlights include the longest yacht Judel Vrolijk 115 Super Maxi Nikata, Australian sailor Ludde Ingvall’s 100-footer CQS equipped with DSS and George David’s Rambler 8.

Making up the bulk of the IRC fleet are the Corinthian entries. Elliott explained: "The Rolex Fastnet Race has that 'challenge appeal' which people are looking for more and more at the moment. There are lots and lots of boats available for charter and spaces available for individuals who want to do it. Generally instead of people going racing every weekend, these days they'll cherry pick, they'll choose to only do bigger, more special events."