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Justine Mettraux & Simon Fisher get ready to take on Rolex Fastnet Race for 11th Hour Racing Team

by 11th Hour Racing Team 6 Aug 2021 22:20 PDT 8 August 2021
11th Hour Racing Team © Justin Shaffer / 11th Hour Racing

11th Hour Racing Team will be lining up this Sunday to take on the world's biggest offshore yacht race: the Rolex Fastnet Race. Justine Mettraux (SUI) and Simon 'SiFi' Fisher (GBR) will co-skipper the team's IMOCA 60 for the 695 nautical mile (800 mile or 1,300 km) course - the first time the pair has competitively raced double-handed together.

Justine Mettraux is looking forward to getting started: "We are competing in a fleet of 13 other IMOCA 60s, which will give us a great opportunity to put our team dynamics to the test and see how we perform in a competitive environment. We had some good opportunities to practice our onboard set up when we delivered the boat back to France after participating in The Ocean Race Europe. Now it's time to see how we line-up in a larger fleet and in race mode! Our main objective this year is to get a good result in the Transat Jacques Vabre in November, and the Rolex Fastnet will help us see the areas in which we need to improve."

Leaving the home of British yacht racing, Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, the fleet will round the iconic Fastnet Rock off southern Ireland before heading back east. For the first time since the inaugural edition in 1925, the race will skip the British port of Plymouth and finish in the French offshore hub of Cherbourg.

Sifi, a seven-times Fastnet veteran who competed in the race for the first time in 2001, gave some insights on what he expects from the upcoming days: "It looks like we'll have some westerly upwind conditions for the start day, which is quite typical for the Fastnet. With a lot of land features and corners over the course, our priority will be to quickly establish a routine onboard and try to put a watch system in place whenever we can. It is a fast race of just over three days in total, and it is important that we look after ourselves and each other, try to get enough rest in between maneuvers, and take the right decisions at the right time!"

The Rolex Fastnet course change doesn't only extend the 601-nautical mile race by 15% to a total of 695 nautical miles, it also adds another level of difficulty by leading the fleet through the English Channel.

SiFi explained where he sees one of the biggest challenges for the team: "It currently looks like conditions might become fairly light once we arrive in the English Channel. Making sure you're in the right place is crucial when crossing it, since tides and heavy currents affect your range of movement a lot.

"Then there is the Traffic Separation Scheme [an exclusion zone] which we will have to negotiate around, as well as a huge number of boats in this very limited space. We will need to time our approach wisely and be smart when we decide to really push. Sailing double-handed, we must be careful with our energy and fatigue levels, and the risks we are taking, which makes it more challenging compared to bigger crews where you can be much more aggressive," he concluded.

The IMOCA 60 class will start on August 8, 2021 at 11.25 BST. The Race start will be transmitted live on the Rolex Fastnet's website, The Royal Ocean Racing Club's (RORC) YouTube Channel, and RORC's Facebook page. 11th Hour Racing Team will share regular updates on Justine and SiFi's progress on our social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

The Rolex Fastnet Race comes at a busy time for 11th Hour Racing Team as the final build stages for its new IMOCA 60 are completed in Brittany, France. More will be revealed as the new boat is launched in the coming days.

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