With 450+ yachts entered in this year’s 49th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s biennial flagship event has consolidated its position as the biggest offshore yacht race in the world.
Most extraordinary about this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race is its huge fleet. Over the last two decades this has almost doubled in size, but the leap between the 2019 and 2021 has been the biggest ever, up to the present tally of 453 from 388 two years ago.
And this is despite uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race sets sail from the Solent on 8 August, back to its original position of the Sunday following Cowes Week, but with a new finish port.
As usual, the course takes the boats down the south coast of England, between the Scilly Isles and Land’s End and across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland. The fleet then returns rounding Bishop Rock, to the west of the Scilly Isles.
From here the course is new for 2021 with the finish port having moved from Plymouth, its traditional destination since the race’s first edition in 1925, to Cherbourg in northern France.
This change increases the length of the race from 608 to 695 miles. Tactically it will place fresh demands on crews with a final hurdle of tackling the fast-moving currents of the Alderney Race before reaching the finish.
Most spectacular is the sheer array of yachts competing.
Within the IRC fleet this includes some of the largest and fastest maxi yachts, such as George David’s Rambler 88, the defending monohull line honours champion.
This year is due to enjoy stiff competition from the brand new, foil-assisted Swan 125 Skorpios. They will be trailed around the course by several VO70, 65 and 60 former Volvo Ocean Race entrants.
For more information, go to: https://www.rolexfastnetrace.com