The 47th Rolex Fastnet Race RAN AT Fastnet Rock 2009Carlo BorlenghiRolex

RAN rounding Fastnet Rock, sunrise.
RAN, Sail Number: GBR7236R, Owner: Niklas Zennstrom, Design: JV 72

On Sunday 6th  August 2017 the 47th edition of the historic Rolex Fastnet Race will start from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, UK.  Organised biennially by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) this 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.

Here are the 2017 Race To the Rock facts:

• 605 nautical miles (1,120.46km) non-stop
• A new record fleet of almost 400 yachts and 4,000+ crews participating
• 27 nations represented
• Multihull course record: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes
• Monohull course record: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes
• Biggest boat is 115ft/35m Nikata
• Smallest boat at 29.4ft/8.97m Sibelius
• 61 boats racing in IRC Four, the largest class

The testing course initially heads westward down The Solent, the fleet exit into the English Channel at Hurst Castle and return to the finish in Plymouth, Devon via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland. The symbol of this challenging race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland which marks an evocative turning point for the fleet. 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. As 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 race has performed a paramount role in the growth and evolution of the sport throughout its history.  First run in 1925 and held once every two years since the 1930s (apart from war times), the event was one of the earliest true tests of offshore sailing.  The race attracts both fully professional and amateur sailors. The sponsored, glamorous ‘pro’ classes with ‘rock star’ sailors on board attract the limelight and offer a real spectacle: (IMOCA 60s, Class 40s, MOD 70s, etc) whilst the race also 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. Corinthian competitors are drawn to the legendary status of the event, some sailing for the first time and embarking on a personal adventure.

There is a 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. Some popular designs with a large number of entries include: Class40 x 34, J/109 x 17, First 40 x 14, Sigma 38 x 11. There are also 3 IMOCA 60s:  Alex Thomson’s Vendee Globe 2016 runner up, Hugo Boss (GBR), Yoann Richomme’s Karakoram (FRA) and Jean Pierre Dick on board St.Michel-Virbac (FRA).

Following on from its MOD70 entry in previous years, Oman Sail returns to the Rolex Fastnet Race this time in the Class40 fleet. Once again the crew will be led by French round the world sailor Sidney Gavignet who is spending this season coaching up top Omani sailor Fahad al Hasni in shorthanded offshore racing.


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RACE TRACKER:  Watch the Rolex Fastnet Race online with the fleet tracker. Yellowbrick trackers are fitted to every yacht so you can see each boat’s position along the course. View by class or select your favourites to follow friends and family, check out their boat speed and weather conditions in real time, read the social media feed and see how the live leaderboard is developing at: