The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s new race entry system has been burning red hot and is on course for a record entry for the 50th Rolex Fastnet Race.
Registration opened for the Fastnet Race at 12:00 UTC Wednesday with the RORC’s new race entry system receiving 433 entrants . . . 300 signing up in the first ten minutes of opening and 400 within 30 minutes.
The previous record number of boats on the start line of what is certainly the ‘world’s largest offshore yacht race’ peaked at 388 in pre-pandemic 2019.
The latest figures are a promising sign that the fleet size will reach a new record when it departs the Solent on Saturday, 22 July this summer, bound for the Fastnet Rock and then on to the finish in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin.
Wednesday’s figures will be by no means the final entry size . . .
RORC members not only receive priority entry but still have until 25 January to sign up; competitors in the RORC’s new Roschier Baltic Sea Race last year, and as well those en route to Grenada in the current RORC Transatlantic Race, get guaranteed entry.
But the largest group still to register are the ‘pro’ classes racing outside of the IRC fleet, ie the Ultim, IMOCA; Ocean 50; Class40 and Figaro 3, as well as the multihull classes.
They have until 14 April to register. For many of this latter group, the Rolex Fastnet Race will be one of the few races they will get to compete in during this season prior to the start of the autumn’s Transat Jacques Vabre.
As usual the biggest contingent among those registered was from the UK with 166 signed up, followed by France with 118.
Yachts ranged in size from a 6.5m Classe Mini to several at 9m, to Lucky, the former Rambler 88, American George David’s serial monohull line honours winner, now in the hands of Bryon Ehrhart.
The longest was the first Ultim entry, the 30m trimaran Banque Populaire skippered by 2016-17 Vendée Globe winner Armel le Cleac’h.
The RORC Race Team in Cowes is currently processing the entries, but a preliminary look at the line-up shows especially large turn-outs from manufacturer classes such as the Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300 and 3600, plus various JPKs, including 10.10s, 10.80s and 11.80s that have won three of the race’s last five editions overall under IRC corrected time.
The RORC’s newly appointed Racing Manager and Race Director Steve Cole commented . . .
“We’re delighted by the response. It’s especially good to see so many old friends and regular participants who seem to be making an extra effort to join us for the special 50th edition Rolex Fastnet Race,”
“Obviously from here, yachts still need to qualify and log the required number of race miles. But it seems highly likely that when the remaining RORC members and the pro classes have signed up by April, we will top 500 boats which should translate into a record turn-out come start day in July.”