Saturday 3 August will see the start of the historic Rolex Fastnet Race, the world’s largest offshore yacht race. For the first time ever, it will take place before Cowes Week.
Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club a record fleet of around 400 boats and 3,000+ crews are taking on the non-stop 605nm race. In fact this year’s entry was filled in just four minutes and 37 seconds, just 13 seconds outside the record time recorded in 2017 of 4 minutes and 24 seconds.
The diverse fleet of yachts will range from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet, but all will take on the testing course which 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. 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.
After the start in Cowes, the fleet heads westward down The Solent, before exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. The finish is in Plymouth, Devon 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. Crews have to manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course.
The main trophy for overall victory in the Rolex Fastnet is the Fastnet Challenge Cup awarded to the winner in IRC. In addition, there are more than 30 additional trophies that will be awarded at the prizegiving on 8 August at Plymouth Yacht Haven.