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Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 - Facts & Stats

Fastnet flag Fastnet fleet leaving Solent 2013 Fastnet 2013 Spindrift 2 - copy Kurt Argio

07 July 2015

In August 2015, Plymouth Yacht Haven will once again host the finish and Race Village for the largest, most diverse offshore sailing race in the world; The Rolex Fastnet Race. Here are some facts and figures regarding the race, the history and the entrants.

The Race

  • Sunday 16th August 2015 is the start of the historic Rolex Fastnet Race - the world’s biggest offshore race 
  • Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) based in London and Cowes, Isle of Wight, England. The 2015 race marks the 90th anniversary of the club
  • 46th edition of the biennial race
  • The non-stop race course is 603 nautical miles (1,116km)
  • Rolex SA of Geneva has sponsored the race since 2001 and extended its commitment until 2021
  • A record fleet is expected with 387 boats (340 IRC + 47 Non-IRC) and 4,000+ crews participating (as at 16.6.15)
  • This classic race is a great sporting event and is the largest offshore race on the planet
  • The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts: from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between
  • Start: The two-hour long start sequence for multiple classes (IRC and Non-IRC) begins at noon, with the first warning signal at 11.50 BST from the Royal Yacht Squadron who are celebrating their bicentenary year
  • The testing course passes several famous landmarks on the south coast of England. Initially, the race heads westward down The Solent, exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. Yacht race to the finish in Plymouth, Devon via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland
  • Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements as crews manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course
  • Truly international: Over 25 countries from five continents will be represented by boats and crews in the race
  • Places on the entry list are highly sought after: in 2013, the first 300 places were filled in less than 24 hours while in 2015, it took an incredible 24 minutes!
  • Europe’s oldest offshore race & one of sailing’s greatest contests and a sporting institution
  • The race is legendary within the world of ocean racing and is on most sailors and adventurers ‘to do list’
  • The symbol of this 603-nautical mile race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland, the Rock marks an evocative turning point for a challenging race
  • Partners/suppliers: MUSTO has been appointed the Official Clothing Supplier

Race History and Records

  • The event was one of the earliest true tests of offshore sailing
  • First run in 1925 and held once every two years since the 1930s (apart from war times)
  • 7 boats raced in the first edition in 1925 and Jolie Brise, a gaff-rigged pilot cutter, was the first winner
  • Jolie Brise competed in 2013 in celebration of her 100th year, finishing in 124 hours, almost a day faster than it took her in 1925. She is still the only boat to have won the Fastnet Challenge Cup three times
  • The race has performed a paramount role in the growth and evolution of the sport throughout its history
  • In 2011 the Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi, skippered by British yachtsman and double Olympic medallist Ian Walker set a new monohull race record of 42 hours 39 minutes, proving that the bar is still capable of being moved
  • The multihull race record was set in 2011 by French trimaran, Banque Populaire V (now raced as Spindrift 2), skippered by Loick Peyron with a total elapsed time of 32hrs, 48min and an average speed of 18.5 knots.

2015 Entrants - IRC and Non-IRC

  • Making up the record fleet will be up to 340 boats in IRC plus around 47 Non-IRC rated ‘professional’ classes
  • IRC is a handicap system administered by the RORC Rating Office that accounts for the size and speed of each boat to achieve a truly democratic result. This means the overall winner can spring from any IRC class and be any size, i.e. Jean-Yves Chateau’s 33ft/10m, Iromiguy from France, won in 2005
  • The sponsored, glamorous ‘pro’ classes with ‘rock star’ sailors on board attract the limelight and offer a real spectacle: (IMOCA 60s, Class 40s, Multihulls and Mini Maxis)
  • The race attracts both fully professional and amateur sailors: Corinthian competitors are drawn to the legendary status of the event, some sailing for the first time and embarking on a personal adventure
  • The race gives the opportunity for Corinthian sailors to compete in the same race as their sailing legends. Something that is not possible in most other sports
  • It is also a ‘must do’ event for regular seasoned RORC sailors who race throughout the year with the club
  • Huge diversity of boats, all competing in one race: Some of the world's fastest multihulls and maxi yachts will line up with Contessa 32s and Sigma 38s, with the complete range of racing yachts in between
  • 20 entrants to the Rolex Fastnet Race will also be competing for the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series and will have raced in the Transatlantic Race 2015 from Newport, Rhode Island, US to Cowes in time for the start

Largest yachts IRC Rated

  • Comanche (USA): VPLP/Vedier 100: 30.46m (100ft), owned by Jim & Kristy Hinze Clark, skippered by: Ken Read, President of North Sails and 2 x Volvo Ocean Race skipper (Puma Ocean Racing 2008/9 & 2011/12)
  • Leopard (GBR): Farr 100: 30.47m (100ft), owned by Mike Slade. 5th consecutive Rolex Fastnet Race • Largest yacht (Non-IRC)

Largest yachts Non-IRC

  • Spindrift 2 (SUI-FRA): VPLP 140 Trimaran: 40.00m (131ft), owned by Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard

Smallest yachts IRC Rated

  • Santana (USA): Capo 30: owned by Myles Perrin
  • Exile Mirabaud (FRA): Pogo 30: owned by Nicolas de la Fourniere
  • May Contain Nuts (GBR): Whitbread 30: owned by Kevin Rolfe

Smallest yacht Non-IRC Rated

  • Makani (AUT): Corsair 31-01D: 9.4m (30ft) owned by Mischa Kellner

Classic Class

  • New to 2015 and to include two Sparkman & Stephens classics and past Fastnet Race winners: 52ft yawl, Dorade owned by Matt Brooks (winner 1931 & 1933) and 53ft yawl, Stormy Weather of Cowes owned by Christopher Spray (winner, 1935)
  • Also taking part in the Classic class is comedian, writer and actor, Griff Rhys Jones, owner of Sparkman & Stephens 57ft yawl, Argyll • International fleet: yachts are representing 25 different countries, from 5 continents: 214 x GBR, 59 x FRA, 22 x NED and 19 x USA

More facts regarding 2015 entrants

  • For 180 yachts this will be their first Fastnet, while 163 previously took part in 2013
  • The average crew age is 43 and the oldest is 80 years old!
  • Largest classes: 85 yachts in IRC Three and 83 in IRC Four
  • Two-Handed Class with over 50 yachts including the 2013 Fastnet Challenge Cup winner - French father and son team, Pascal and Alexis Loison, aboard their JPK 10.10, Night and Day, the first ever two-handed winner of the race
  • By design: Some popular designs with a large number of entries include: Class40 x 20, J/109 x 19, First 40 x 15, Sigma 38 x 14
  • 2 x Volvo 70s: Monster Project (RUS) and Camper (AUS)
  • Potential for Volvo 65s to join the fleet following the finish of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race
  • 14 x IMOCA 60s: Absolute Dreamer (FRA), Banque Populaire (FRA) Bureau Vallé – Fille De Feu V (FRA), Comme un Seul Homme (FRA), Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Hugo Boss (GBR), Initiatives Coeur (FRA), Le Souffle Du Nord (FRA), MACSF (FRA), Maitre Coq (FRA), PRB (FRA), Quéguiner – Leucérnie Espoir (FRA), Safran (FRA), SMA (FRA)
  • Vendée Globe round the world skippers competing include: François Gabart, the French skipper of SMA, the youngest skipper, at 29, to win the legendary Vendée Globe 2012-13. Others include Armel L’Cléac’h (Banque Populaire), Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), Seb Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) and Vincent Riou (PRB)
  • Record breaking MOD 70s: Musandam-Oman Sail (OMA), Phaedo3 , Edmond de Rothschild – Gitana XV (FRA)