The next edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race will start on Sunday 8th August and for the first time in its history, the race will finish in Cherbourg, France. In the current health context, the organisers are taking all the necessary steps to welcome the competitors in the best conditions.
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. Developed over the last 30 years by teams attempting to break the non-stop round the world record, the Jules Verne Trophy, these giant 32m long by 23m wide flying multihulls are the fastest offshore racing yachts by far.
The Dutch offshore Veronica Race is accepted as qualification opportunity for the Rolex Fastnet Race 2021. Several qualifying offshore sailing races in the Netherlands had to be cancelled due to the Covid restrictions. Many subscripted teams to the Rolex Fastnet Race 2021 had difficulty to collect their required offshore nautical miles. The RORC recently confirmed the Veronica Race as additional qualification race for the Fastnet.
Like tickets to Glastonbury, registration opened on the dot of 1000 UTC today for this summer’s Rolex Fastnet Race and speedily sold out. 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. Bow to bow this line-up represents almost 5km of yacht, confirming the Rolex Fastnet Race’s position as by far the world’s largest and most popular offshore yacht race.
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.
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.
The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), organisers of the Rolex Fastnet Race, announced at a press conference today that the City of Cherbourg will host the finish of the Rolex Fastnet Race for the 2021 and 2023 editions of the biennial race. The move encourages and secures the future development of the race and will open it to more competitors; in 2019 the race had a waiting list of 150 boats.
While the toughest competition in the Rolex Fastnet Race will be within the individual classes, the ultimate kudos comes from winning the Fastnet Challenge Cup, the outright prize for IRC corrected time for the world's largest offshore yacht race. The challenge will be all the harder for this year's race has an immense fleet of 336 boats (excluding the 60 racing in the non-IRC fleet).
The weather will play a significant outcome in determining the overall results of the Rolex Fastnet Race. Winning your division is more within each team's control, and here we'll look at the top three IRC handicap categories in terms of size and speed. IRC Zero is where the biggest boats congregate and is likely to produce the monohull line honours winner. However, you have to go back to the 2009 and 2011 editions of the race to find the last Maxi to win overall - on both occasions the impeccably sailed Rán 2.
Perhaps it is because people are becoming increasingly time poor, or because it neatly side-steps the problem of keeping a large crew together, but one area of offshore racing undeniably gaining popularity is doublehanding.