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The Fastnet Race is a famous biennial offshore yachting race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club of the United Kingdom. Generally considered one of the classic offshore races, 'Fastnet' is a difficult contest testing both inshore and offshore skills, boat and crew preparation and speed potential. From its inception, the Fastnet Race has proven highly influential in the growth of offshore racing, and remains closely linked to advances in yacht design, sailing technique and safety equipment.
The Fastnet Race takes place every two years over a course of 608 nautical miles (1,126 km). The race starts off Cowes on the Isle of Wight on the south coast of England at the Royal Yacht Squadron. Leaving The Solent through The Needles Channel, the race follows the southern coastline of England westward down the English Channel, before rounding Land's End. After crossing the Celtic Sea, the race rounds the Fastnet Rock off the southwest coast of Ireland. Returning on a largely reciprocal course, the race rounds the Scilly Islands before finishing at Plymouth .
The Fastnet is a challenging race. Taking place in August, the race is often provided with Westerlies that are strong to gale force in strength. The succession of low pressure systems which advance on the British Isles across the North Atlantic Ocean provide a constantly moving weather pattern for which Fastnet navigators must plan. These depressions are mostly centered north of the English Channel. Knowledge of where meteorological disturbances are likely to occur, and how best to use them, is the keynote to success in the race.
The International Offshore Rule (IOR) was introduced in 1973, and the yachts and crews began taking sponsorships.
A severe storm during the 1979 race resulted in the deaths of eighteen people (fifteen competing yachtsmen and three rescuers) and the involvement of some 4,000 others in what became the largest ever rescue operation in peace-time. This led to a major overhaul of the rules and the equipment required for the competition. Several books have since been written about the 1979 race, which remains notorious in the yachting world for its loss of life. In the 1979 race, "15 sailors died, five boats sank, and at least 75 boats flipped upside down", that is turtled.
The Race drew further attention from outside the sport in 1985 when the maxi yacht Drum capsized after the keel sheared off due to a design error. The boat was helmed by the New Zealander Phil Holland, brother of its designer Ron Holland. Pop star Simon Le Bon, co-owner and crew member of Drum, was trapped under the hull with five other crew members for twenty minutes, until being rescued by the Royal Navy. The Search and Rescue Diver was Petty Officer Air Crewman (POACMN) Larry "Scouse" Slater of 771 Naval Air Squadron who appeared on This Is Your Life on 9 April 1986.
In 2011, the 100-foot maxi yacht Rambler 100 capsized after her keel broke off between Fastnet Rock and the Pantaenius Buoy (a temporary race mark placed southwest of the Fastnet Rock). All 21 crew were rescued safely. Sixteen were rescued from the upturned hull, by the RNLI Baltimore Lifeboat Hilda Jarrett. A further 5 crewmembers, including the owner/skipper George David, had floated away from the vessel, but managed to link themselves together. They were in the water for approximately 2.5 hours, before being rescued by a Baltimore based diving vessel, Wave Chieftain. One of these crewmembers, Wendy Touton, suffered hypothermia and was taken by helicopter to Tralee General Hospital. Four crew-members had been below decks at the time of capsize and were not adequately dressed for egress into the sea. All uninjured crew were taken to Baltimore. The Naval Service patrol ship LÉ Aoife remained with the hull, worth $10,000,000 before the capsize, before it was towed to Barleycove by the Castletownbere-based tug Ocean Bank.
The RORC in 2007 set an entry limit of 300 boats for the first time. The start of the 2007 Race was postponed by 25 hours, due to a severe weather warning. This was the first time this had been done in the race's 83 year history. Overnight gale force winds and resulting extreme seas forced over three-quarters of the boats to retire, sheltering in ports along the south coast of England, including Torbay, Plymouth and Weymouth.
Despite the conditions, Mike Slade's Icap Leopard 3, launched in June 2007, set a new record of 44 hours 18 min, taking almost 9 hours off the previous record set in 1999. Ger O'Rourke's Chieftain was the overall winner on corrected time.
A record number of 320 boats entered the 2011 Race – the largest total since the ill-fated 1979 Race (303 entries). A total of nineteen nations were represented, with the bulk of entries still from Britain and France.
Plymouth Yacht Haven was selected as host port RORC Increased the number of entries to meet demands. With the entry limit of 300 filled within 24 hours, over 100 boats on the waiting list and entries from multihulls, IMOCA 60s and Class 40s were still coming in, demand for places in 2013's Fastnet Race has been at its highest level thus far.
Winners (the following results are to be considered provisional): IRC Overall: Night And Day, a JPK 10.10 owned by Pascal Loison; MOCRA Multihull: Oman Air - Musandam, a MOD 70 owned by Sidney Gavignet.
The monohull race record is 42hrs 39min, set by Ian Walker's Volvo Open 70 Abu Dhabi (UAE) in 2011. The other two Volvo Open 70 participating in the 2011 Fastnet Race (Groupama 4 and Team Sanya) also broke the previous record, which had been set by ICAP Leopard in 2007.
The multihull race record is currently held by the 130-foot trimaran Banque Populaire V, skippered by Loïck Peyron, with a total elapsed time of 32hrs, 48min (an average speed of 18.5 knots), set in 2011. Peyron held the previous multihull record, set in 1999 in the 60-foot ORMA trimaran Fujcolor II of 40hrs, 27min.
|1925||Jolie Brise||Lt Cdr E. G. Martin||Alexandre Pâris|
|1926||Ilex||Royal Engineers||Charles E. Nicholson|
|1927||Tally Ho||Lord Stalbridge||Albert Strange|
|1928||Nina||Paul Hammond||Starling Burgess|
|1929||Jolie Brise||Lt Cdr E. G. Martin||Alexandre Pâris|
|1930||Jolie Brise||Lt Cdr E. G. Martin||Alexandre Pâris|
|1931||Dorade ||Olin Stephens||Sparkman & Stephens|
|1933||Dorade||Olin Stephens||Sparkman & Stephens|
|1935||Stormy Weather||Olin Stephens||Sparkman & Stephens|
|1937||Zeearend||Kees Bruynzeel||Sparkman & Stephens|
|1939||Bloodhound||Ike Bell||Camper and Nicholsons|
|1947||Myth of Malham||Capt. J.H.Illingworth||John Laurent Giles|
|1949||Myth of Malham||Capt. J.H.Illingworth||John Laurent Giles|
|1951||Yeoman||Owen Aisher||Camper and Nicholsons|
|1953||Favona||Sir Michael Newton||Robert Clark|
|1955||Carina||Dick Nye||Philip Rhodes|
|1957||Carina||Dick Nye||Philip Rhodes|
|1959||Anitra||Sven Hansen||Sparkman & Stephens|
|1961||Zwerver II||Otto van der Vorm||Sparkman & Stephens|
|1963||Clarion of Wight ||Derek Boyer DFC||Sparkman & Stephens|
|1965||Rabbit||Dick Carter||Dick Carter|
|1967||Pen Duick III||Éric Tabarly||Éric Tabarly|
|1969||Red Rooster||Dick Carter||Dick Carter|
|1971||Ragamuffin||Syd Fisher||Sparkman & Stephens|
|1973||Saga||Erling Lorentzen||Sparkman & Stephens|
|1975||Golden Delicious||Richard & Harvey Bagnall||Ron Holland|
|1977||Imp||David Allen||Ron Holland|
|1979||Tenacious ||Ted Turner||Sparkman & Stephens|
|1981||Mordicus||Taylor and Volterys||Mauric/Gaubert|
|1983||Shamrock||Maller & Snoeren||Hellevoetsluis|
|1985||Panda||Peter Whipp||Philippe Briand|
|1987||Juno III||M Peacock||Rob Humphries|
|1989||Great News||John Calvert-Jones / Tom Blackaller||Farr Yacht Design|
|1991||Min-O-Din||John Humphries/Matt Humphries||David Thomas|
|1995||Nicorette (ex-Charles Jourdain)||Ludde Ingvall||Ribadeau-Dumas/Simonis Voogd|
|1997||Royal Blue (ex-Nicorette)||Gunnar Ekdahl||Ribadeau-Dumas/Simonis Voogd|
|1999||Whirlpool-Europe 2||Catherine Chabaud||Philippe Harlé – Alain Mortain|
|2001||Tonnerre de Breskens||Piet Vroon||Lutra Design Group|
|2005||Iromiguy||Jean-Yves Chateau||Ron Holland|
|2007||Chieftain||Ger O'Rourke||Farr Yacht Design|
|2009||Rán 2||Niklas Zennström||Judel Vrolijk|
|2011||Rán 2||Niklas Zennström||Judel Vrolijk|
|2013||Night And Day||Pascal Loison||Jacques valer|
|1925||Jolie Brise||Lt Cdr E. G. Martin||Alexandre Pâris||6day 3h|
|1926||Hallowe'en||Col J. F. N. Baxendale||William Fife||3day 19h 5m|
|1927||La Goleta||R. St.L. Beverley||Alden|
|1928||Nina||Paul Hammond & others||Starling Burgess|
|1929||Jolie Brise||Bobby Somerset||Alexandre Pâris|
|1930||Jolie Brise||Bobby Somerset||Alexandre Pâris|
|1931||Patience||H. E. West||Charles Nicholson|
|1935||Kismet III||-||William Fife|
|1937||Bloodhound||Isaac Bell||Charles Nicholson|
|1947||Latifa||Michael Mason||William Fife|
|1949||Latifa||Michael Mason||William Fife|
|1953||Bloodhound||Isaac Bell||Charles Nicholson|
|1955||Mare Nostrum||-||Sparkman & Stephens|
|1979||Condor of Bermuda||Bob Bell||John Sharp|
|1981||Condor||Bob Bell||Ron Holland|
|1983||CONDOR||Bob Bell||Ron Holland|
|1985||Nirvana||Marvin Green||Dave Pedrick||2day 12h 34m|
|1989||Steinlager II||Peter Blake||Bruce Farr|
|1995||Nicorette (ex-Charles Jourdain)||Ludde Ingvall||Ribadeau-Dumas/Simonis Voogd|
|1999||RF Yachting||Ross Field||Bruce Farr||2day 5h 8m|
|2001||Stealth||Gianni Agnelli||Frers||2day 10h 58m|
|2003||Alfa Romeo – Shockwave||Neville Chrichton||Reichel/Pugh||2day 9h 2m 0s|
|2005||Maximus||EBS Yachting||Greg Elliott||2day 20h 2m 7s|
|2007||ICAP Leopard||Mike Slade||Bruce Farr||1day 20h 18m 53s|
|2009||ICAP Leopard||Mike Slade||Bruce Farr||2day 11h 9min 36s|
|2011||Banque Populaire V||Loick Peyron||VPLP||1day 8h 48m 46s|
|2013||Spindrift 2||Yann Guichard and Dona Bertarelli||VPLP||1day 14h 53m 58s|