Please select your home edition
Edition
T Clewring - Cruising

Rolex Fastnet Race - 300 boats fight for the Fastnet Challenge Cup

by Peta Stuart-Hunt on 8 Aug 2013
Niklas Zennström’s 72’ mini maxi Rán 2 is hoping to win the Rolex Fastnet Race for an unprecedented third time in a row. © Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi http://www.carloborlenghi.net
Whilst the headline grabbing big boats may romp away come Sunday's start of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the world's largest offshore yacht race, a longer more intricate battle will play out between the 300 boats competing for the handicap prize, the Fastnet Challenge Cup, for the winner under IRC rating.

This year there is one obvious favourite. Niklas Zennström's Judel Vrolijk 72 Rán 2 is run with all the precision of an America's Cup team and the result has been her winning the last two Rolex Fastnet Races. The team is gunning to claim it a third time and if this pans out, Rán 2 will become the first boat to win three times in a row.

This time Rán 2 faces her stiffest competition. 'It is getting tougher,' acknowledges Rán 2's skipper, Tim Powell. 'Obviously Bella Mente is a newer version of us. There are the VO70s which have proven to be good IRC boats. Plus with long offshore races like the Fastnet you always need an element of good fortune on your side in terms of the weather favouring your size of boat.'

Journeying all the way from Australia to compete, Geoff Boettcher's Reichel Pugh 51 Secret Men's Business 3.5 is something of an unknown. Boettcher no doubt fondly remembers winning the 2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, when Rán 2 finished eighth overall.

And who's looking good in the smaller classes? French boats dominated in 2011 and look to do so again. Géry Trentesaux, this year campaigning the 34ft Courrier Vintage, believes this is because: 'We prefer offshore and coastal races because we compete in so many Figaros and Tour de France la Voiles.'


While the French first and second placed winners in IRC 1 return in the Grand Soleil 43, Codiam, and Laurent Gouy's Ker 39, Inis Mor, the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens 3 of 83-year-old Dutchman Piet Vroon is favourite. Tonnerre de Breskens 3 was overall RORC champion in 2010 and 2011 and is on track to repeat this in 2013.

'If I was a betting man I'd put my money on the 72 footers, Rán 2/Bella Mente, but it depends on what the weather is going to do,' says Vroon, who won the Rolex Fastnet Race overall in 2001 with his previous 52ft Tonnerre de Breskens 3.

With an incredible 22 Rolex Fastnet Races behind him, Vroon says Tonnerre de Breskens 3 prefers more wind, but has done well in light wind too. Direct opposition comes from the Ker 40s - Edward Broadway's Hooligan VI and Andrew Pearce's Magnum III - or the French boats mentioned.


In IRC Two there is another clear favourite in Géry Trentesaux's Courrier Vintage. Paling beside Vroon's record, this will merely be Trentesaux's 12th Rolex Fastnet Race, following his first in 1977.

While overall victory has eluded him, Trentesaux won his class in 2001 and 2007.

Modestly Trentesaux doesn't rate his team's chances, stating that Courrier Vintage prefers strong conditions. Instead he prefers his old boat, the First 40 La Réponse, now owned by Admiral of the RORC, Andrew McIrvine, or Michel Peretie's A-40, Stamina III, which won the class in the St Malo race or the Peter Rutter/Philippe Falle-campaigned GS43, Trustmarque Quokka 8.

In IRC Three, the top boats in the last race - the JPK 10.10s Noel Racine's Foggy Dew and Wasabi of Belgium's Vincent Willemart - this year have both lowered their rating to squeak into IRC Four. This leaves the door open to the A-35, Chenapan, or the Belgium JPK 10.10, Rackman, (fourth and fifth respectively in 2011) or the trio of top Js - Nick Martin's J/105, Diablo J, or Christopher Palmer's J-T'Aime or Todd Wells' Je Vante, two of the twenty J/109s competing. A dark horse is the JPK 10.10 Night and Day, sailed by French father and son team, Pascal and Alexis Loisin, who, despite racing doublehanded, claimed overall honours in the recent St Malo race.

According to Foggy Dew skipper Noel Racine, they detuned their JPK 10.10 to race ex-Figaro sailor Philippe Vicariot on Swinhoe and Gerard Quenot's Alkaid III in IRC Four (the three JPK 10.10s in IRC Three are racing doublehanded with bigger sails). However Racine is well aware of the threat from the smaller boats, especially Jean Yves Chateau's Nicholson 33 Iromiguy, the 2005 Rolex Fastnet Race winner. 'If there is a lot of light wind at the beginning and strong wind after then the smaller boats will have the advantage.'

At present it is too early to tell if the forecast will favour the big or the small Fastnet website

Schaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82North Technology - Southern SparsNaiad/Oracle Supplier

Related Articles

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Making an indelible mark
In the Rolex Sydney Hobart, while not the record-setting pace, Wild Oats XI still made her indelible mark. In the Rolex Sydney Hobart, while not the record-setting pace, Wild Oats XI still made her indelible mark in the record books, taking the line honours win. Close reaching up the Derwent River, the 100-footer crossed the finish line off Battery Point in Hobart, at 7:07pm local time (AEDT).
Posted on 29 Dec 2013
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Frustrating the front runners
In the Rolex Sydney Hobart race, soft overnight conditions in Bass Strait have frustrated the front runners all night. In the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, soft overnight conditions in Bass Strait have frustrated the front runners all night, especially the heavier Perpetual Loyal, which has watched the lighter, leaner Wild Oats XI gradually inch away from her.
Posted on 28 Dec 2013
Rolex Fastnet Race 2013 - An event to remember
Every edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race deserves its own chapter in the event’s proud annals. Every edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race deserves its own chapter in the event’s proud annals so rich are the stories that emanate every time the offshore classic is held. Yet, in its 88 years of existence, few Rolex Fastnet Races have captured the values intrinsic in making the competition an international icon in quite the same way as 2013.
Posted on 22 Aug 2013
Rolex Fastnet Race 2013 - The wrap-up feature
The Rolex Fastnet Race this year saw the entry list sell out in less than 24 hours. New benchmarks continue to be set in the Rolex Fastnet Race. The Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial flagship event this year saw the entry list sell out in less than 24 hours. Its position as the world's largest offshore yacht race was further confirmed when a record-sized fleet of 336 yachts set sail from Cowes on 11th August.
Posted on 21 Aug 2013
Rolex Fastnet Race - Memorable and historic 45th edition concludes
In the Rolex Fastnet Race, there was no shortage of drama throughout a memorable and historic 45th edition. In the Rolex Fastnet Race, there was no shortage of drama throughout a memorable and historic 45th edition. The race concluded today with the final prizegiving fittingly held in glorious sunshine on Mount Batten, overlooking Plymouth.
Posted on 17 Aug 2013
Rolex Fastnet Race - Ladies in the spotlight
The Rolex Fastnet Race has had more than its fair share of high profile female sailors this year. The Rolex Fastnet Race has had more than its fair share of high profile female sailors this year. Of course Dona Bertarelli was the first to cross the finish line into Plymouth as the new co-skipper of the world's largest racing trimaran and fastest offshore race boat, the 40m long, Spindrift II. This boat won Rolex Fastnet Race line honours for a second consecutive time.
Posted on 17 Aug 2013
Rolex Fastnet Race - Majority now in Plymouth
The majority of the Rolex Fastnet Race fleet has now finished in Plymouth. Of the record breaking-sized fleet of 337 boats that set sail from the Solent last Sunday at the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the majority has now finished in Plymouth. Just 14 boats are still racing with the classic Fife gaff yawl, Duet, bringing up the rear, having only broken the '200 miles-to-go' barrier earlier this morning
Posted on 16 Aug 2013
Rolex Fastnet Race - Historic doublehanded, overall winner revealed
In the Rolex Fastnet Race, a JPK 1010 has claimed victory overall and is the first doublehanded crew ever to do so. In the Rolex Fastnet Race, history has been made. Pascal and Alexis Loison’s JPK 1010 Night And Day from France has claimed victory overall and is the first doublehanded crew ever to do so. A remarkable, near unthinkable achievement, which sets a new milestone for the mythical 88-year old race.
Posted on 16 Aug 2013
Rolex Fastnet Race - The international challenge
In the Rolex Fastnet Race, more than twenty different nations from four continents are represented. In the Rolex Fastnet Race, more than twenty different nations from four continents are represented. Around 40% of fleet and half the sailors are non-British. The biennial event, one of the world’s great ocean races and sponsored by Rolex since 2001, is globally revered and recognised.
Posted on 16 Aug 2013
Rolex Fastnet Race Village bursts into life
The Rolex Fastnet Race Village has burst into life with a flurry of finishing boats making it into Plymouth last night. The Rolex Fastnet Race Village has burst into life with a flurry of finishing boats making it into Plymouth during the night. Over 200 yachts have finished the 45th edition of the race and with entries from 20 different countries and crew from many more, there is a cosmopolitan blend of sailors enjoying the atmosphere in the purpose-built village situated within Plymouth Yacht Haven.
Posted on 16 Aug 2013