There is less than two weeks to go until the world’s biggest offshore race, the historic biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, which starts from Cowes on Sunday, 16th August and will see 390 boats from 25 nations competing. Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) the 2015 race also marks the 90th anniversary of the club.
The start line at the Royal Yacht Squadron generates plenty of excitement and provides spectators with the perfect place to watch the Fastnet action unfold. The two-hour long start sequence for multiple classes (IRC and Non-IRC) begins at noon, with the first warning signal at 11:50.
This year there is an on-water spectator area (which forms an obstruction of the course for competitors), giving you a safe zone to spectate from if you choose to go afloat. You must remember not to spectate from the Cowes fairways and to stay south of a line joining the following points:
Egypt Point – Kingston Marine Services buoy – Mooring buoy M1 – Snowden and Charles Stanley buoys – Shrape Beacon – Old Castle Point.
Fastnet Race start line and spectator zone
The best shoreside vantage points for the start will be from the Royal Yacht Squadron along to Gurnard, with the yachts likely to be closest to shore at Egypt Point. Spectators will also be able to listen to live commentary on the speakers along Cowes Parade and The Green from Fastnet Radio broadcasting on 87.7FM. As the fleet funnels out of the Solent there will be a good chance to see the yachts from Yarmouth, Fort Victoria and Tennyson Down on the Island side and Hurst Castle on the mainland.
Making up the record fleet in 2015 will be up to 340 boats in IRC plus around 50 Non-IRC rated ‘professional’ classes. The sponsored, glamorous ‘pro’ classes with ‘rock star’ sailors on board attract the limelight and offer a real spectacle, such as the IMOCA 60s, Class 40s, Multihulls and Mini Maxis. The race appeals to both fully professional and amateur sailors; Corinthian competitors are drawn to the legendary status of the event, some sailing for the first time and embarking on a personal adventure.
A huge diversity of boats compete in the race; some of the world’s fastest multihulls and maxi yachts will line up with Contessa 32s and Sigma 38s, with the complete range of racing yachts in between. The largest yacht in the race this year is the 40m (131ft) trimaran Spindrift 2 (SUI-FRA) owned by Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard, whilst the smallest boat racing is the 9.1m (30ft) Santana (USA) owned by Myles Perrin. For 180 yachts 2015 will be their first ever Fastnet, while 163 previously took part in 2013. The average crew age is 43 and the oldest is 80 years old!
The race has performed a paramount role in the growth and evolution of the sport throughout its history. In 2011, the Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi, skippered by British yachtsman and double Olympic medallist Ian Walker set a new monohull race record of 42 hours 39 minutes, proving that the bar is still capable of being moved. The multihull race record was also set in 2011 by French trimaran, Banque Populaire V (now raced as Spindrift 2), skippered by Loick Peyron with a total elapsed time of 32hrs, 48mins and an average speed of 18.5 knots.
Full information on the newly launched race minisite can be found at: www.rolexfastnetrace.com, including an all-important guide on how to follow the race.
A Cowes Local Notice to Mariners will be issued nearer the time on the CHC website.