2021 sees 450+ yachts entered in the 49th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s biennial flagship event. This number of entries consolidates the race’s position as the biggest offshore yacht race in the World.
This race sets sail from Cowes on 8th August, back to its original position of the Sunday following Cowes Week, but with a new finish port in France. From Cowes, the boats race down the south coast, between the Isles of Scilly and Land’s End then across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland. The fleet returns rounding Bishop Rock, to the west of the Isles of Scilly before taking a new course via Alderney, then on to the French finish.
This change of destination for the Rolex Fastnet Race has been made by the RORC as Cherbourg’s Port Chantereyne is better able to accommodate the race’s enormous fleet and ending the race in France is also highly appropriate given France is the World’s leading nation for this genre of racing.
However, since the restrictions on crews entering a different country from the start of the race to the finish, the RORC and French agencies have arranged that French boats can register in Cherbourg, come to Cowes for the start, without landing, race and return to France without self-isolation. Similarly, GB entrants can undertake the race but not land in France. Plans though, as with so much concerned with the pandemic, can change and organisers hope that by 8th August crews may be able to land in another country without a problem as they have in the past.
As ever, the sheer array of yachts competing is very diverse. Within the IRC fleet are some of the largest and fastest maxi yachts, such as George David’s Rambler 88, the defending monohull line honours champion, which this year is due to enjoy the 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.
Also, the Rolex Fastnet Race stands out in accommodating the impressive French grand prix classes, thanks to the race having close proximity to Brittany where many are based. These include the fastest offshore racing yachts in the World, the 30m long flying Ultime trimarans. Among them are famous names such as Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, skippered by Volvo Ocean Race winners Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier and Yves le Blevec’s Actual Ultim 3 (formerly Francois Gabart’s MACIF, currently holder of the singlehanded non-stop around the World record).
Well represented are the 60ft IMOCAs, which are famous for competing in the Vendée Globe. Among those entered are this year’s ‘2’ Vendee Globe winners: Charlie Dalin’s Apivia, which was first home to Les Sables d’Olonne but ultimately beaten when Yannick Bestaven on Maître CoQ was awarded time compensation from earlier in the race. Two boats have been entered by 11th Hour Racing, including a newly launched example for Charlie Enright who skippered Wizard, the overall winner of the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race and Britain’s Alex Thomson is back with a newly refitted Hugo Boss.
Fast forward a year to August 2022 and once again the waters off Cowes will witness more of these impressive boats in the 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race.
Confirming their continued support of the toughest event in the RORC racing calendar is longterm partner Sevenstar Yacht Transport which is a leading Dutch yacht transport and logistics company. The 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race is their fifth consecutive title sponsorship of the race; a partnership dating back to 2006.
Chris Stone, RORC Racing Manager, says:
“As organisers, we are delighted to have this enduring partnership with Sevenstar Yacht Transport.
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“At 1,805 nautical miles the course is two and a half times longer than the Rolex Fastnet Race and it takes competitors through a myriad of different conditions, with crews having to cope with a huge number of elements”.
The 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race will feature a wide variety of yachts racing under the IRC rating rule as well as one design and open classes, such as IMOCA, Class40 and Multihulls. Most of the fleet will race fully crewed, but with the popularity of the Two-Handed class in recent years, the race is expected to have a record entry.