An Especially Good Year for the French

Published on August 16th, 2013

There was no shortage of drama throughout a memorable and historic 45th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race.

336 yachts from 20 countries started the biennial 611-nm race that runs from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock on the south-west tip of Ireland. The lineup had everything: professional and Corinthian sailors; some of the world’s fastest, most technologically sophisticated yachts competing against 30-ft family crewed boats; participants from as far afield as Australia, Oman and the United States.

The most remarkable story of the week belonged to a father and son crew from Cherbourg, France, sailing the 33-ft JPK1010 Night And Day. No double-handed crew had ever won the Rolex Fastnet Race; hardly surprising given the gruelling demands posed by offshore sailing.

Pascal Loison and his son Alexis, a professional solo sailor, arrived in Cowes with the ambition of winning their double-handed class. They will now sail back to France with the Rolex Fastnet Challenge Cup and a Rolex timepiece for company as the overall winner of the biggest offshore yacht race in the world.

“If you compete in offshore sailing, winning the Rolex Fastnet is really a pinnacle of success. It’s nice, it was not expected, I don’t know how to describe it,” said a shell-shocked Pascal. “We are a small boat, two handed and we have managed to win this race, beating all these large professional boats and crews,” added Alexis. “It’s my day, a good surprise and I will remember this victory all my life.”

Conditions during the race, light for the first few days before an upturn in breeze after the second half of the fleet rounded the mythical Fastnet Rock – the midway point – proved advantageous for the smaller boats. It was an especially good year for the French. Twelve of the first fifteen placed yachts, indeed the top five, hailed from across the English Channel.

Night And Day, named after the Cole Porter song, is the first French boat to win the Rolex Fastnet for eight years. Curiously, the 2005 winner – Jean-Yves Chateau’s Iromiguy – was also a 33-ft boat.

After the start on August 11, 322 of the 336 starters had completed the race by 17:00 BST on August 16. Eight boats had retired.

Event websiteVideo reviewFinal results

Editor’s note: We are pleased that this successful edition lacked the drama seen in 2011, which saw George David’s Rambler 100 (USA) capsize in the Celtic Sea after rounding the Fastnet Rock. Click here to relive that moment.

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