Mention to any serious sailor that you’ve competed in the RORC Rolex Fastnet Race and they’ll likely have something to say. Some will claim to have done it themselves, more will be planning to do it “some time soon” and a few will simply smile respectfully and nod, acknowledging a kindred spirit and adventurous soul.
‘The Fastnet’ can only be raced by a select band of hardy sailors that have successfully completed the rigorous selection process, including the completion of several RORC offshore qualifying races before they even get to the start line. It’s run just once every two years and organised by The Royal Ocean Racing Club. It has been run every other year (save the war) since 1925 and anyone that competes in the near 608 mile offshore race should be rightly proud of their achievement. As bucket lists go, it’s near the very top for every offshore sailor.
The race is held in the week following Cowes Week Regatta, in early August. Competing in the Fastnet Race is not for the faint-hearted. But like all things that are worth doing, the satisfaction to be gained from successfully competing in probably the oldest, most iconic offshore yacht race in the World, makes the effort and physical hardships worthwhile.
We are entering our X-Yacht 37 ‘Pure Attitude’, she is fully equipped for inshore and offshore racing with a full suit of racing sails including: No.1 Aramid Laminate Jib, No.2 (3DL style) and North sails main.
Whilst ‘Pure Attitude’ is big enough to offer exhilarating performance, she is still small enough to be really engaging to sail.
A series of cannon shots release more than 350 small – and not so small – sail boats and high tech, carbon fibre race machines from the Royal Yacht Squadron’s start line in the Solent, just off Cowes. They scramble and fight their way through the Western Solent before squirting out of the Needles Channel and into the English Channel on the ebb tide.
The RORC Rolex Fastnet is an extremely tough race, both physically and tactically. It runs over a course of 608 miles, much of it offshore and in some of the most challenging coastal waters in the World.
The fleet first strikes out across Christchurch Bay, past Swanage, in a desperate attempt to round St Alban’s Ledge before the tidal gate slams shut trapping the unfortunate stragglers and damaging their chances of silverware and glory a few days later. Portland Bill is the next navigational challenge for the leading boats before tactics really come into play. Tidal hopping in and out of the South Coast’s many bays in an attempt to harness the benefits and mitigate the penalties meted out by the enormous tidal flows that surge through the English Channel to and from the vast North Atlantic every 12 and a bit hours.
The fleet rounds Land’s End before striking Northwest and West across busy shipping lanes, then leaping off the continental shelf and over the infamous Labadie Bank, spearing deep into the vast North Atlantic swell. There’s no going back now. Next landfall is the stark outline of the Fastnet Rock with its haunting light piercing the late summer mist off the green and wreck-laden shores of Southern Ireland.
The familiar North Atlantic swell will soon become a surfer’s paradise as the faster, lighter downwind machinery take full advantage of a large following sea and a high octane spinnaker-powered sleigh ride back home, via Bishop’s Rock Lighthouse and the Scilly Isles. A final sprint down the Channel and into Plymouth Sound marks the end of another Fastnet Race and a well-earned party and perhaps a cold beer!
Optional additional races (charges apply)
The Fastnet Race is not a race for beginners, but with the training and the qualifying races included in our package you will have the experience necessary, not only to compete in this classic offshore race but to excel in it. What’s more, you’ll be competing on an X-yacht with a full wardrobe of high performance racing sails by North.
Race fees, professional skipper, life jacket and safety equipment and meals onboard during racing.
You are welcome to sleep onboard the yacht during the training days or may chose to book a hotel locally.
Wet weather gear, meals taken ashore and your travel. We also require all crew to have completed the 2 x single day courses (ISAF offshore safety and Sea survival). Please contact us for details of our recommended providers.
Waterproofs etc – we can’t emphasise enough how important it is to have the proper kit. Good, waterproof boots, proper base layers and waterproofs that are of at least coastal level – inshore kit won’t do the job.
A good hand torch, a head torch with a red light setting and a Leatherman or similar pocket tool.
Sleeping bag and pillow case.
Basic toiletries i.e. toothbrush Personal medication.
Please keep kit to a minimum to reduce the weight of the boat for racing.