Please select your home edition
Edition
Wildwind 2016 728x90

Rolex Fastnet Race - Capturing the hearts and souls of millions

by Louay Habib on 23 May 2013
Celebrating her centenary, the winner of the first Fastnet Race in 1925, Pilot Cutter, Jolie Brise now sailed by pupils from Dauntsey’s School in Wiltshire. Rick Tomlinson © http://www.rick-tomlinson.com
Royal Ocean Racing Club's iconic 608-mile race around the Fastnet Rock has captured the hearts and souls of millions of people since 1925. This August, The Rolex Fastnet Race will have the largest number of participants in its 89-year history. Over 350 yachts, and as many as 380 yachts, from five continents and over 22 different countries will be taking part.

The diversity of the yachts and participants is truly extraordinary. The maxi trimaran Spindrift two is the holder of the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest circumnavigation, sailing around the world in just over 45 days. Internet entrepreneur Niklas Zennström's 72' mini maxi Rán two is hoping to win the Rolex Fastnet Race for an unprecedented third time in a row. Plus the original winner of the first race in 1925, the Pilot Cutter Jolie Brise, celebrating her centenary, is also competing and this diversity is the reason why the Rolex Fastnet Race is so special.

Built in 1913, Jolie Brise has participated in the Fastnet race four times, winning three races including the inaugural race in 1925. Her career as a pilot boat was short-lived, owing to steam replacing sail, she became a fishing boat for a time before being bought by E.G Martin in 1923, a founder member of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. Evelyn George Martin met with a group of distinguished sailors, including Algernon Maudsley, to discuss an ocean race. Martin pulled a ten shilling note from his pocket, placed it on the desk and asked Maudsley if he would do the same. In that moment, the Ocean Racing Club was formed. After some discussion a race 'from Cowes round the Fastnet and back to Plymouth' was announced for yachts not exceeding a waterline length of 50ft. Jolie Brise won the first race and also won in 1929 and 1930 and to this day, she is the only yacht to have won the race three times.

Since 1977, Dauntsey's School Sailing Club has sailed and maintained Jolie Brise, as skipper Toby Marris explains:

'Since Dauntsey's School started to sail Jolie Brise, over 9000 pupils have sailed on her. She sails about 220 days each year, clocking up about 10,000 miles. We have raced across the Atlantic with The Tall Ships Race, as far north as inside the Arctic Circle, east as far as Russia and south as far as The Cape Verde Islands. Jolie Brise is available for charter but during Dauntsey's School's holidays, the pupils have priority. For the Fastnet, we will have seven girls and boys from Dauntsey's School, all under 18 and two crew selected by The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. This year's race will be a once in a lifetime experience. Our goal is always to enjoy sailing her, but this race will become part of her history, so it is very special.'


Since 1930, four yachts have come close to equalling Jolie Brise's three overall victories, but none have yet to succeed. Olin Stephens' Dorade (1931 and 1933), Capt. J.H.Illingworth's Myth of Malham (1947 and 1949), Dick Nye's Carina (1955 and 1957) and Niklas Zennström's Rán 2 (2009 and 2011). This year, the mini maxi Rán two will be attempting to win the trophy for an unprecedented third consecutive year.

Tim Powell, Rán two's Team Manager, has competed in four round the world races and spoke about the Rolex Fastnet Race:

'Having the chance to win the race for a third time in a row is amazing. It is always tough just to win your class, but to win overall you also need to have the weather conditions in your favour and I have to say that we have had our share of luck in the last two races. This year, Bella Mente (Hap Fauth's American Mini Maxi) will be a big threat. Rán two is now four years old and I think it would be fair to describe Bella Mente as a more modern version of Rán two. If we have a 25-knot reach to the Rock and back, we should be the slower boat. If we have a more tactical race then perhaps that will be in our favour. Bella Mente has an excellent crew but then we know the Fastnet Race really well and maybe that is an advantage.'

Experiencing the start of the Fastnet is unlike any other offshore race and this year with a record entry it will be a special moment for everybody in the race. I would especially like to wish the young crew of Jolie Brise a great race. I started racing offshore with The Youth Challenge and if you told me then that I would have the chance of winning it three times, I wouldn't have believed you. For me, The Fastnet will always be a very special Rolex Fastnet Race website

Ancasta Ker 33 660x82Protector - 660 x 82Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Related Articles

Vendee Globe - Conrad Colman's thoughts on his incredible performance
Colman was the first boat in the history of the race to finish using only natural energy, no fossil fuels After finishing 16th in the Vendee Globe, crossing the finish line under the jury rig which had carried him the final 720 miles of his race since he was dismasted, Conrad Colman was greeted by a hero's welcome into Les Sables d'Olone. The first New Zealander to complete the race he was also the first boat in the history of the race to finish using only natural energy, no fossil fuels.
Posted on 24 Feb
More winners announced in RORC Caribbean 600
As dawn broke on day five, crews who had finished the race were beginning to arrive back in Antigua. At Dawn on the fifth day, the leading Class40s were approaching the finish. Throughout the race, the battle in the class had been intense, with three yachts taking the lead at various points along the course.
Posted on 24 Feb
Vendee Globe - Conrad Colman finishes under jury rig
Colman constructed and stepped a remarkable jury rig which has allowed him to sail the final 740 miles of 27,440nm race New Zealander Conrad Colman wrote a new chapter in the storied history of the Vendée Globe when he crossed the finish line of the eighth edition of the non stop solo round the world race under a makeshift jury rig.
Posted on 24 Feb
Vendée Globe – Romain Attanasio takes fifteenth place
French skipper Romain Attanasio, sailing Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys, took 15th place in the solo race around the world French skipper Romain Attanasio, sailing Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys, took 15th place in the non stop solo race around the world this morning (Friday 24th February) when he crossed the finish line at 1006hrs UTC.
Posted on 24 Feb
Vendee Globe - Conrad Colman finishes under jury rig - First images
New Zealand solo sailor Conrad Colman has finished the Vendee Globe race under Jury rig. New Zealand solo sailor Conrad Colman has finished the Vendee Globe race under Jury rig. Here are the first images from the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne
Posted on 24 Feb
International Maxi Association 2017 program full due to new events
The 2017 calendar, open to owners of all maxi boats (ie 60+ft LOA), features two new events in the Mediterranean. The 2017 calendar, open to owners of all maxi boats (ie 60+ft LOA), features two new events in the Mediterranean.
Posted on 24 Feb
Clipper Race Coxswain Training commences
We often tell the stories of the 40 per cent of crew who take on the Clipper Race with no previous sailing experience We often tell the stories of the 40 per cent of crew who take on the Clipper Race with no previous sailing experience, but there are also many talented and experienced sailors amongst the fleet.
Posted on 24 Feb
Tawera Racing joins Extreme Sailing Series line-up in Muscat
Team has been formed to give New Zealand's sailors a launch pad into the cutting-edge world of foiling multihull racing. The seventh challenger for Act one is announced today in the form of New Zealand-flagged Tawera Racing, which will compete as a full season entry.
Posted on 24 Feb
JJ Giltinan Trophy - Images from the Invitation Race
Michael Chittenden, was on Sydney Harbour this afternoon for the Invitation of the 2017 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiffs Top Sydney skiff photographer, Michael Chittenden, was on Sydney Harbour this afternoon for the Invitation of the 2017 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship. Winds were light to non-existent, until a bit of puff appeared out of Rose Bay allowing the fleet to sail a three leg course. Here's the images from the day
Posted on 24 Feb
EFG Bank Monaco sets sights on rivals in EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour
French sailing star Thierry Douillard says his EFG Bank Monaco (MON) crew will focus firmly on defending their title French sailing star Thierry Douillard says his EFG Bank Monaco (MON) crew will focus firmly on defending their title from arch rivals Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA) as the Arabian classic approaches its climax.
Posted on 24 Feb