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Upwind slog forecast for Rolex Fastnet Race

The Volvo Race fleet will tackle the Rolex Fastnet Race, starting on Sunday 6 August, for the second stage of their Leg Zero qualifying series.Fastnet Rock -

This year’s 605 nm Fastnet is going to be a long upwind slog all the way from the start line off Cowes, IOW, to the turn at the Fastnet Rock at the south east point of Ireland.

The race will present a very different challenge to the Volvo Ocean Race fleet – as well as an early chance for the chasing pack to show they can match early pacesetters MAPFRE.

Xabi Fernández and his Spanish team found record-breaking form in winds of up to 35 knots to take the first of four Leg Zero races on Wednesday, a blast around the Isle of Wight in the Sevenstar Triple Crown series at Lendy Cowes Week.

The Volvo fleet are the last class to start at 11:40 UTC, and one of the fastest, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet will quickly find themselves amongst the smaller boats ahead as the entire 390-boat fleet tacks up the western Solent in a classic Fastnet start.

The excitement could soon turn to frustration if the light conditions don’t allow the Volvo Ocean 65 fleet to make it past the first major headland, the Portland Bill, before the tide turns against them.

With a strong eastwards rush of the tide against them by the coast, and lighter winds below them to the south, the boats that just blitzed the Isle of Wight record will be crawling.

Turn the Tide on Plastic - Click image for a larger image

“This race is fraught with hazards,” said Dee Caffari, skipper of Turn the Tide on Plastic. “Right from the start line as you leave off the Royal Yacht Squadron line through the Solent you’ve got shallows and tide to contend with and several tidal gates along the way which are either going to make or break your race."

"But it’s not my first Rolex Fastnet so I’m comfortable that I know where I’m going and what I’m doing.”

No respite awaits at Land’s End as they’ll pass through a cold front that will add rain to the insult of upwind sailing.

A new high pressure will establish itself on Monday in the middle of the Atlantic that will feed the fleet steady northwesterly wind to cross the Celtic Sea. More upwind!

The stable conditions will allow the crews to soak up a beautiful rounding off the famous rock – which should make for some nice photos in the early hours of Tuesday, if the sun is up by then – before a nice run back to the finish off Plymouth in 15-20 knots.

The crews that are still new to their boats will be thankful for the opportunity to knock out some gybing practice before stages three and four of Leg Zero bring them into stronger downwind sailing again down the coast of Portugal.

Remaining VOR Leg Zero races:
Stage 2, starting 6 August: Rolex Fastnet Race
Stage 3, starting 10 August: Plymouth to Saint-Malo
Stage 4, starting 13 August: Saint-Malo to Lisbon

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