Please select your home edition
Edition
C-Tech 2020 C-Tech 728x90 TOP

49th Rolex Fastnet Race - one year to go

by James Boyd / RORC 6 Aug 2020 05:09 PDT 8 August 2021
Always a spectacular sight as hundreds of yachts of all sizes head out of the Solent after the start in Cowes, UK © Kurt Arrigo / Rolex

In one year's time a new era will begin for the world's largest offshore yacht race. On 8 August 2021, the Rolex Fastnet Race will set sail from Cowes bound for the Fastnet Rock as usual, but then, once the boats have rounded Bishop Rock, they will, for the first time in the race's 96 year history, point their bows towards Cherbourg, the new finish for the Royal Ocean Racing Club's premier event.

Announced last November, the change in finish venue to Cherbourg comes thanks to the joint co-operation of the City of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, the Communauté d'agglomération du Cotentin, the Conseil départemental de la Manche?and Région Normandie with the event's organiser, the RORC.

The Rolex Fastnet Race's giant fleet will face no berthing shortage when they reach Cherbourg where they will be moored in Port Chantereyne and the Bassin du Commerce.

Well used to hosting large sailing and other sports events, the historic naval port at the top of the Cotentin Peninsula, will provide shoreside spectacle and razzamatazz on an unprecedented scale for Rolex Fastnet Race finishers. Most unexpected for competitors from outside of France will be the degree of interest taken in yacht racing by the local community.

Thanks to events such as the Vendée Globe and the Route du Rhum professional sailing is a top tier sport in France and its top players, many of whom will be competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race, are household names. In addition to its long history and its massive fleet, one of the attractions of the race, that draws competitors from across the globe, is the opportunity for not just the general offshore racing community, but also Corinthian family, friends and sailing school entries to be on the same start line as legends of our sport.

Among the stars will again be Charles Caudrelier and Franck Cammas on Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. The massive 32m long 23m wide flying trimaran is one of the world's fastest offshore race boats and famously in the last race overtook Francois Gabart's MACIF on the last gybe to win by less than a minute.

"It was a similar difference between Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE in the race before," recalls Caudrelier, who went on to skipper the Chinese VO65 to victory in the subsequent Volvo Ocean Race. "I love the race because I think the south coast of England and the north coast of Brittany are most complicated to manage which makes them the best places for racing. I really enjoy the passage between Cowes and the Lizard playing the sea breeze and the current. The Rolex Fastnet Race is a mix between a coastal race and an offshore in the Irish Sea - it is very interesting."

Caudrelier is naturally pleased that the next edition will end in Cherbourg. He has raced in and out of there many times, most recently in the Drheam Cup which Maxi Edmond de Rothschild won. "It is a good place for racing - very tricky with a lot of current. Each time I've visited it was a nice place with great parties and people - I have a lot of good memories."

It remains unconfirmed if 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race overall winner David and Peter Askew's VO70 Wizard will return to defend their title, however their sailing master, Volvo Ocean Race skipper Charlie Enright will be back, this time as skipper of 11th Hour Racing Team aboard his new generation IMOCA 60, that will be competing in The Ocean Race in 2022-23.

Enright is a fan of the Rolex Fastnet Race: "It is certainly one of the more complex races as from a course perspective it has so many different features and you never know what it is going to throw at you. Also you can count on the competition year in year out - that makes it hard to win, so when you do it does feel good."

Currently based in Concarneau, Enright appreciates what a difference the Cherbourg finish will make. "In France, they like their boating and the finish should be more spectacular I imagine."

With the finish in Cherbourg, more French entries are anticipated but the majority are still likely to be from the UK. Last year David Collins was the top British finisher under IRC, his Botin IRC 52 Tala's time correcting out to third overall behind Wizard and Nicolas Groleau's Mach 45 Bretagne Telecom. Having come so close in 2019 and after not racing this season, Collins says the Rolex Fastnet Race will be Tala's main event in 2021, in what will be a UK-only season.

CEO of the RORC, Eddie Warden Owen adds: "The coronavirus pandemic has left us already looking towards 2021 and a racing season - the highlight of which will be the 49th Rolex Fastnet Race.

"The last three editions have seen record-breaking fleets attracting enthusiastic amateurs, seasoned offshore racers as well as out-and-out professionals from all corners of the world, all captivated by the challenge of racing to the Fastnet Rock, battling the strong currents and headlands off the south coast of England, followed by the open ocean in the Celtic Sea, while enduring the changeable weather en route.

"For the 2021 and 2023 races the finish will be in Cherbourg and we are excited at working with our colleagues in France where offshore racing is a national sport and where competitors can expect a wonderful welcome and warm hospitality."

For further information, please go to the race website: rolexfastnetrace.com

Related Articles

World's fastest tris set for Rolex Fastnet Race
Maxi Edmond de Rothschild headlines the Ultimes taking part While the Vendée Globe grabbed headlines over the winter with a record fleet of 31 boats, France boasts a yet more extraordinary fleet of boats - the Ultimes. Posted on 5 May
Rolex Fastnet Race - More than a race
Taking part to experience the challenge, a lifelong ambition, an adventure While Rolex Fastnet Race will be highly competitive, for many among the record-sized entry of 453 yachts, the objective of tackling the 695 mile course from Cowes to Cherbourg via the legendary rock off southwest Ireland is just to get round successfully. Posted on 19 Apr
Rolex Fastnet Race doublehanding goes supernova
Entry has soared to 89 yachts, a giant step up from 2019's 64 Doublehanded offshore racing had been gaining popularity with the Rolex Fastnet Race's IRC Two Handed class almost doubling in size between 2009 and 2019. Posted on 29 Mar
Rolex Fastnet Race: Classic fantastics
Oldest among the giant 400+ boat fleet is Amokura As the Rolex Fastnet Race approaches its 50th edition and the 100th anniversary of the RORC two years later, so we can expect to see more classic yachts taking part with ancient associations to what has grown into the world's largest offshore yacht race. Posted on 16 Mar
Performance 40s set for Rolex Fastnet Race
One of the most popular 'classes within a class' with more than 50 entries In this August's Rolex Fastnet Race, one of the most popular 'classes within a class' will be the Performance 40. At present more than fifty of these racer-cruisers and cruiser-racers are currently entered in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's pinnacle event. Posted on 4 Mar
IRC winners return for Rolex Fastnet Race
2017's victor Didier Gaudoux is at present the only one returning with the same boat It is inevitable that many past winners, be they of line honours, individual classes or of the main IRC overall prize, the Fastnet Challenge Trophy, should be among the record 400+ strong entry in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's flagship event in 2021. Posted on 10 Feb
Rolex Fastnet Race entry numbers smash all records
Within an hour an unprecedented 400 boats had entered RORC's flagship event Within an hour an unprecedented 400 boats had entered the Royal Ocean Racing Club's flagship event, which this year will follow a route finishing for the first time in France. Posted on 12 Jan
One week until Rolex Fastnet Race entry opens
Begins at 1000 UTC on Tuesday 12th January 2021 Registration for the 49th Rolex Fastnet Race begins at 1000 UTC on Tuesday 12th January 2021. Posted on 5 Jan
On your marks...
One month until Rolex Fastnet Race 2021 entry opens With less than one month to go until entry opens for the 48th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the RORC Race Team are concerned there will be a repeat of the 2019 rush to enter when the race became oversubscribed in less than 5 minutes. Posted on 14 Dec 2020
Walking the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race course
The new course is 90 miles longer, making it 695 miles, based on the shortest route Moving to Cherbourg for the finish of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's premier event, the Rolex Fastnet Race next year will see navigators and crews facing a few significant new challenges. Posted on 16 Sep 2020
Sea Sure 2021 - RED - FOOTERC-Tech 2020 Battens 2 728x90 BOTTOMUSA Fusion MS-RA210 System 728x90px BOTTOM