Published: Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Rolex Fastnet Race, founded and organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), has recorded the largest and most diverse fleet in offshore racing history. 

Rolex Fastnet Race To Welcome Near 400 Yachts

(Photos: Rolex / Daniel Forster - Rolex Fastnet Race 2015)

The near 400 yachts, ranging from multihull to monohulls, modern design to classic, professional racers to Corinthians, 30 to 115ft, on the 605nm race feature crew from 29 nations. Rolex Fastnet entry list recorded also the largest Asian entries within 4min 24sec.

The starting signal for the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race will sound in front of the Royal Yacht Squadron’s magnificent clubhouse in Cowes on August 6. In the main fleet, the smallest yachts start first, with the largest and fastest yachts starting over an hour later, progressing westward through The Solent.

Participants then embark on the passage down the English Channel to the open waters of the Celtic Sea. Each Rolex Fastnet Race is testimony to the unpredictability of the weather conditions. The flickering beam of the Fastnet lighthouse off the southern coast of Ireland provides a welcome juncture. The emblematic landmark heralds the race’s virtual halfway point and the beginning of the final leg to Plymouth. 

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Over 40% of entrants are expected to join the Rolex Fastnet Race from overseas. Asia will be represented with entrants from China and Japan, and once again, a strong presence from Russia is also anticipated.

A significant proportion will come from France, a country renowned for its offshore racing heritage. In recent years, French yachts have dominated the standings under IRC handicap. The past two winners of the race – the double-handed crew of Pascal and Alexis Loison on Night and Day in 2013 and Géry Trentesaux’s JPK 10.80, Courrier Du Leon in 2015 – hailed from across the English Channel.

The large French contingent will be joined by yachts from across the globe including Chilean entrant Equinoccio, a family-crewed Swan 57. The United States has a strong race pedigree having provided 11 overall winners over the race’s 92-year history. George David is a regular presence at the event and his Rambler 88 will be one of the contenders for both monohull line honours and the overall win.

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Among her rivals will be Ludde Ingvall’s recently revamped CQS, an Australian entry that contested the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart. Ingvall has a close affinity with the race. His success with Nicorette in 1995 is significant – it is the last time a yacht achieved line honours and overall success in the same edition. 

The largest entrant is the 115-ft British yacht Nikata with the smallest competitor expected to be 29.6-ft British-flagged Silver Shamrock owned by Stuart Greenfield. Also joining the fleet will be the 73ft Sparkman & Stephens design, Kialoa II, the all-conquering Maxi and winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart in 1971.

Among the fastest yachts, the multihulls will be looking to outperform the time of 32 hours, 48 minutes set by Banque Populaire V in 2011; while the leading monohulls will focus on Abu Dhabi’s record of 42 hours, 39 minutes set in the same year. For the overall winning monohull on handicap, the Fastnet Challenge Cup, a Rolex timepiece and a place in history await as rewards for their triumph. 

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Rolex is also the title sponsor of some 15 major international events, from the Rolex Sydney Hobart and the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, through to grand-prix competition at the Rolex TP52 World Championship, spectacular gatherings at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup.