Wednesday, October 20

Power Fastnet Race with 418 sailboats on the starting line


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Very harsh weather forecasts for this Sunday, August 8, 2021; they currently show that the wind for the start of Sunday is 25 knots from the southwest, with gusts up to 35. This means that the beginning is headwind and, from the moment the ebb begins in the western Solent at 12 : 30 local time, wind against the tide. “It is going to be quite tricky so there could be some abandonment at the beginning, but hopefully there is enough wisdom throughout the fleet to understand what the forecast says and to remember as always that ‘to finish first, you have to finish first”; commented the New Zealand navigator Campbell Field who participates aboard the IRC “Tala” skippered by David Collin.

On the 96th anniversary of one of the most iconic deep-sea regattas is the Fastnet Race, the Royal Ocean Racing Club organization has made the decision that the end of this edition will be in the French port of Cherbourg instead of the British port of Plymouth; Already in the 2019 edition, rumors circulated of this change that increases the route by 90 more miles, going from the original 605 to 695 total miles. The change of route to Cherbourg takes place at the passage of the Scillies Islands, the last leg of the 189-mile regatta.

According to Eddie Warden-Owen, CEO of RORC: “This is not a decision made lightly. We have thought it through carefully. The limitations of the marina at Plymouth to accommodate the fleet at the end of the race have long meant that more than 150 boats were unable to participate in the Fastnet. You can’t tell a crew that: sorry guys, you can come and participate in the regatta, but then you have to disappear; That does not work like that, it is limiting growth. We want to control the expansion of the regatta… I am sure that with the French interest we will obtain more IMOCAs, more Class40, more multihulls; and suddenly we will exceed half a thousand ships. We need to control the expansion, and we will do it slowly. “

The ports on the other side of the English Channel, the Gauls, did not hesitate to seize the opportunity to accommodate the Fastnet fleet. The city of Cherbourg will be the end of the race in 2021 and 2023.

There will be twelve participating classes, the largest being the IRC3 with 101 sailboats and the Class40 with a total of 37 boats; the one with the fewest boats is the VO65 with only three units and four will be the large multihulls (Actual Ultim3, Maxi Edmond de Rothschil, Sodebo Ultim 3 and Ultim’emotion 2).

The class distribution is as follows: IRC Zero 25, IRC1 53, IRC2 52, IRC3 79, IRC4 74, IRC2H 79, IRC Without Category 24, IRC 2H 63, MOCRA 12, Open Multihull 4, Class40 37, 2H IMOCA60 13, 2H FigaroIII 5 and VO65 3; With a total of 420 registered, there are two VO65s that also compete in the IRC Zero Class, for a total of 418 boats.

Leading the IRC fleet will be Dmitry Rybolovlev’s brand-new ClubSwan 125 “Skorpios”, the largest monohull to ever participate in the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s main event. Once out of the Solent, the biggest and fastest boats will be the first to see the breeze die down. “As soon as we get to Portland Bill will come down,” says Skorpios skipper, Spanish Olympic gold medalist Fernando Echavarri. “We’re upwind all the way to the Lizard and then it’ll do about 080 TWA and then a little upwind near the Irish coast and then we’ll be back.”

One of the stars of the IMOCA fleet will be Yannick Bestaven aboard the «Maître CoQ», recent winner of the Vendée Globe 2020-21. Bestaven will compete with another legend of the IMOCA fleet, Roland Jourdain.

“We will go upwind at about 20 knots,” predicts Bestaven. “We expect a lot of turns and maneuvers in the Solent. The wind will continue to be strong, up to 30 knots, before subsiding at the end of the day. We will pass Fastnet Rock on Tuesday morning, after a long turn to port. La Roca, we will continue to have wind, but quite light. For us, with small foils, it will be hard compared to those with large foils. We should finish on the 11th, at noon “.

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