Within an hour of online registrations opening, some 400 boats had entered the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s flagship event, the Rolex Fastnet Race 2021, confirming the event’s position as by far the world’s largest and most popular offshore yacht race.

This year the event will follow a route from Cowes and finish, for the first time, in France.

RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen said:

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“It seems that everyone is looking forward positively to a future of sailing without COVID-19 hanging over their heads as once again we have a ‘sell-out’ Rolex Fastnet Race. Also, the message must have got through that we have more places available with our move of the finish to Cherbourg, because we had the usual early rush for places, but it seemed more orderly than in the past, with more than 400 boats registering in less than an hour. Add to this the non-IRC fleets like the IMOCA and Class40, plus the usual mixture of multihulls making the tally around 500 boats whose crews want to experience the challenge of the Rolex Fastnet Race. It is very exciting for our sport.”

When registration opened the first entry, which managed to sign up in a sub 2-second time slot, was Eva Herman’s J/122 Juliett Romeo from the Netherlands. First British entry, after 26 seconds, was Katherine Cope’s Sun Fast 3200 Purple Mist and 30 seconds into the process the first French entry was Christian Maby’s Sun Fast 3300 Spoutnik. Just a split second later, Conor Dillon’s Dehler 34 Big Deal, was the first entry from Ireland and Tomasz Nagas’ Fast Forward first from the USA followed.

Overall, boats from 25 nations have entered with the majority coming from the UK but with large numbers from France and the Netherlands. Entries from further afield include 4 from Russia, 2 from Japan and Australia and 1 both from China and New Zealand. With the new finish in France entries from France were expected and French boats have won 3 of the last four Rolex Fastnet Races.

Whilst the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race is at record levels, RORC Racing Manager Chris Stone stresses that those keen to participate should still apply as there will always be an opportunity to enter the race as people’s circumstances change.

Starting from Cowes on 8th August, once again there should be a spectacular sight for the public to witness from Cowes Parade, the Green or Gurnard before the boats head off to The Needles.

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