The world’s largest, most prestigious offshore sailing event, the Rolex Fastnet Race, will set off from the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes on Sunday, 6th August 2017. Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), this will be the 47th edition of the biennial race.
The non-stop race course from the Solent to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock is 605 nautical miles. Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements as crews manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course.
The Race continues to attract the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between. A truly international and record fleet of 397 boats is expected on the start line with close to 4,000+ crews participating from over 27 countries. A list of race entries is now available on the event website. The start sequence for multiple classes (IRC and Non-IRC) runs from 1100 to 1240, with the first warning signal at 1050.
While the Judel-Vrolijk custom designed Baltic (115ft) Nikata will be the largest yacht competing, the battle for line honours glory looks set to be between two titans of the grand prix racing world. Finnish Whitbread Round the World Race legend and previous Fastnet winner Ludde Ingvall returns with the Simonis Voogd custom designed (90ft) CQS, which competed at the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, finishing seventh overall. Ingvall and CQS will face stiff competition from American George David’s Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed Rambler 88, a highly competitive entry, having taken line honours at the 2016 Rolex Middle Sea Race.
The smallest boats competing are the 37ft Silver Shamrock in IRC, a Half Tonner owned by Stuart Greenfield, and in Non-IRC the 29ft Acapella, owned by Charlie Capelle.
Second-guessing the winner under IRC among is tough. The outcome will depend on the weather. A brisk start should favour the big boats; a light start and lively finish the smaller ones, but it is not simple given the race’s complexity with headlands and tidal gates to negotiate, shipping and Traffic Separation Schemes to avoid, the mix of coastal and oceanic sailing, amid the largest fleet of any offshore race in the world.
There is one unifying factor; the winner will be one of the smartest and most talented crews, sailing the best prepared boat, courtesy of the IRC rating system that aims to create a level playing field for all types of boats competing.
Please read Local Notice to Mariners No. 22(T) of 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race Start.
Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 – preview video
Watch the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race preview on YouTube.
How to follow the race
Race minisite: www.rolexfastnetrace.com
RPRC YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/RORCRacing
Armchair enthusiasts can negotiate the 605 nautical mile course from the comfort of their living room by playing the Virtual Fastnet Game. Be warned, this game gets addictive! Full details will be on the race minisite closer to the start.
Visit the Rolex Fastnet Race event website for more information.
Top photo: Rolex Fastnet Race start, Cowes 2015 – Credit Rolex / Kurt Arrigo