Please select your home edition
Edition
Kilwell - 1

Rolex Fastnet Race - Record breaking fleet all set

by Trish Jenkins on 25 Jul 2013
Plymouth Yacht Haven will host the Rolex Fastnet Race Village - Rolex Fastnet 2013 Royal Ocean Racing Club - RORC © http://www.rorc.org
For the Rolex Fastnet Race, the biggest and best offshore racing boats from around the world will be descending on the Solent for the start, beginning from Cowes on Sunday, 11th August. At present, the tally for the Royal Ocean Racing Club's flagship event, the world's largest offshore yacht race, stands at a record breaking 351. Of these, 47 are in the 'non-IRC classes' including the multihulls, Class 40s and IMOCA 60s, while the remaining 304 are gunning for the overall IRC prizes of the Fastnet Challenge Trophy and a Rolex chronometer.


Impressively, this year one third of the fleet, 119 boats are from overseas. The boat having travelled furthest is Geoff Boettcher's Secret Men's Business 3.5, from Adelaide in South Australia. The 3.5 refers to how the boat's original hull was chopped away from the deck, and somehow replaced with an upgraded design four foot longer, now up to 51ft. This dramatic modification worked, for in 2010 she won the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Boettcher admits this will be his first Rolex Fastnet Race, although several of his crew, including Will Best and Andy Mieklejohn are old hands. 'I did the Etchell Worlds there in 1996 and I have been saving up ever since!' he quips of his return to the UK.

Secret Men's Business 3.5 rates well under IRC and is expected to be a strong contender for the overall IRC prize. Boettcher says she is more 'offshore orientated' than the TP52s she regularly races against. As to how the Fastnet Race stacks up against the Rolex Sydney-Hobart, he hedges: 'I'm sure it won't be a walk in the park. I've heard mixed reactions... I gather it is 20 miles shorter.'

Also gunning for Rolex Fastnet Race honours will be Bella Mente. American Hap Fauth's Mini Maxi is certain to be a thorn in Rán 2's side, as Niklas Zennström's team attempts to become the first to ever win the Rolex Fastnet Race three times in a row: Bella Mente is a newer generation Judel-Vrolijk design and beat Rán 2 to the Mini Maxi World title last year.

Fauth admits that this will be his first Rolex Fastnet Race. 'It has been on my bucket list! It is an iconic race - one of the four majors. We have won the Bermuda race. We hold the record in Transpac. We haven't done Sydney Hobart, but it is a long way to go and quite frankly too expensive for one race. I must be getting cheap in my old age!'

On board Fauth sails with a fully pro crew including Volvo Ocean Race winner Mike Sanderson, navigator Ian Moore and America's Cup veterans John Cutler and Dee Smith. 'We have spent about six years developing this crew and the chemistry is terrific and a great experience base line and they work very well together. You have to have professionals, because amateurs can't practice with you. I commit about 90 days a year and a large percentage of that is practice. We practice a week before every regatta.'

As to their prospects, Fauth says: 'I know Rán has won the Rolex Fastet Race twice before and has just put a new fin and bulb on to optimise her offshore performance. I have been sailing against Niklas [Zennström] for a long time and have a great relationship with him. We are extremely competitive on the water - the boats rate almost evenly and are equally quick, so it is about tactics and who puts the boat in the right place the fastest. We'll have a great race.'

The Russians are out in force. While some are sailing on Monster Project, the former Team Russia VO70, the most substantial Russian presence will come from the three Gazprom-backed Swan 60s, two set to be sailed by Russian crews.

Vladimir Liubomirov, Commodore of the Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg Russia and owner of one, is looking forward to the Rolex Fastnet Race: 'This is the first time we will be racing in the Rolex Fastnet Race with the Swan 60 Bronenosec and we are excited to be taking part in such a renowned and popular race.

'The crew now have experience of sailing in these waters thanks to both the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race and the Gazprom Swan 60 World Championship where we took the winning title. We also have experience of offshore racing in tough conditions, so hopefully we are prepared for all weather types. We are all looking forward to competing in the largest offshore race in the world and meeting our competition.'

Hoping to be back for a return visit to the Rolex Fastnet Race after competing in 2011 is the Lithuanian team on the Volvo Ocean 60, Ambersail. The boat is owned by a collective of around 50 people and has notched up huge mileage.

'We calculated roughly that we have sailed 150-180,000 miles in five years,' says the team's Simonas Steponavicius. This includes the Rolex Sydney Hobart, a transatlantic race, the RORC Caribbean 600, Rolex Middle Sea Race and the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race.

Sadly last week Ambersail, their 2001 vintage former ASSA ABLOY training boat, dismasted off her homeport of Klaip?da. According to Steponavicius they have located a replacement rig, but their chance of being on the start line is now in the hands of their insurers. Steponavicius says he will be deeply disappointed, if Ambersail can't make it:

'The Rolex Fastnet Race is one of my favourites. It is very challenging tactically and extremely interesting upwind along the coast with all the tidal gates, etc. I enjoy it very much. It is truly one of the classic races, absolutely on a par with the Sydney Hobart. I have been looking forward to doing this race since we finished the last one.'

It is perhaps this widely shared sentiment that attracts such strong international entries back to compete in the world's largest offshore race again and again.
Fastnet Race website

Related Articles

Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May
Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted on 29 Apr
From Olympic flag to Olympic Gold and maybe another
The Sydney Olympics was a Sailing double 470 Gold event for Australia. Having won the 420 World Championship in 2000, the feeder class to the 470, while still at school in Australia young Matt Belcher was given the honour of carrying the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Posted on 28 Apr
The Road to Rio now 99 days short
The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win. The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win in Hyeres, at some World championship events and Weymouth World Cup but for many crews: 'It's 106 miles to Chicago we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.' Whoops wrong movie.
Posted on 28 Apr
America's Cup - Oracle Racing win in Court but with collateral damage
Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Mitchell focussed largely on the circumstances of the matter and introduced into the public arena some interesting documents to support his claims.
Posted on 23 Apr
Thou doth protest too much, me thinks
And no, we’re not off to analyse Hamlet right away. There’ll be no surtitles popping up on the top of your screen And no, we’re not off to analyse Hamlet right away. There’ll be no surtitles popping up on the top of your screen about now. At any rate, it is simply an adaptation of Lady Gertrude’s original line. We merely seek to use it as a way to demonstrate that when there is a lot of brouhaha going on, the smoke screen ultimately ends up as a lovely, colourful flag as to the real intent behind it.
Posted on 18 Apr
An interview with Jake Beattie about the 2016 Race to Alaska
In 2014, Jake Beattie and a few friends envisioned the Race to Alaska. Now, it’s time this wild race’s second edition. In 2014, Jake Beattie-the executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Washington, and a few friends hatched the bold idea of a human-powered race to Ketchikan, Alaska, took flight. They decided that their human-powered race would start in Port Townsend, Washington and run to Ketchikan, by way of the inside passage between Vancouver Island and British Columbia.
Posted on 14 Apr
Children of the Internet, Rio and Hong Kong
I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. The kind of conversations I have with her run along these lines.... In the olden days we did not have television until I left school and they had a thing called print magazines, that reported events between two weeks and four months after they happened. And her sceptical response... Hoh! Daddy, Hoh!
Posted on 14 Apr
Go fast girls - 49er FX sailors Paris Henken and Helena Scutt
Paris Henken and Helena Scutt will be representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics, which will be their first Olympiad. American’s Paris Henken (20) and Helena Scutt (23) recently won a berth to represent the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the high-performance 49er FX skiff, a goal that the team has been working on for almost three years. While this is their first Games, writing them off as Olympic newbies would require ignoring their recent results and their strong teamwork.
Posted on 13 Apr
World Sailing Cup V3 - A Dead Rat in a Shoe or Spring Daffodils?
While a host of major sailing events go from strength to strength, the Sailing World Cup has very major issues. Last night my Irish better half was sitting beside me on the sofa watching an Australian version of the popular TV Cooking Program My Kitchen Rules on a tablet with her headphones while I was watching Diehard II for the seventeenth time (it’s a boy thing) on TV. She suddenly spluttered and laughed, took off her headphones and motioned for me to mute Diehard. (Seriously!!)
Posted on 9 Apr
Schaefer 2016 660x82Kilwell - 4Barz Optics - Melanin Lenses