Record Breaking Interest in Rolex Fastnet Race

Published on January 9th, 2017

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
The biennial Rolex Fastnet Race is not a race for novices. There are no palm trees at the finish or scenic islands along the route. Each team must be prepared for severe weather, large and confused seas, and strong winds. Boats have been lost, people have perished, yet, the attraction of this 603-nautical miler is unmatched.

Entries opened today (Jan. 9). Here was the Twitter feed:
• We’re just minutes away until entries for the 2017 ROLEX Fastnet Race Open!
• 5 minutes! @Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 registration.
• 1 minute! @Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 registration.
• It’s a RECORD!! The entry limit (340 boats) for the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race was reached at 12:04:24.563, a time of 4 minutes 24 seconds!
• Rolex Fastnet Race entry stats: First entry: 12.133 seconds past the opening – Lancelot II. First minute: 222 entries. Queries: 290,000.

Unbelievable to learn how this likely cold and miserable slog through the Celtic Sea met its entry limit in record-breaking time. The 340-boat limit was reached in just 4 minutes and 24 seconds setting a new record.

This achievement, I contend, benefits from two elements. First, IRC is the rating rule of the region. Unlike North America, where there are multiple technical rating rules, one dominant system creates order, thus encouraging both growth and participation in the sport. Also, the Royal Ocean Racing Club has been an excellent steward of its flagship event.

Nick Elliott, RORC Racing explains his reaction to the phenomenal demand to enter this historic race:

“The take-up of entries for the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race has been incredible. We expected to better the time it took to reach the limit in the last race of 24 minutes, but this is amazing. It just exemplifies how sought after the places in the race are and confirms that it is a real sporting institution; one which every sailor wants to tick off their personal ‘bucket list’.

“Seven boats raced in the first race in 1925 and the founding members of the RORC and its flagship event would have been in awe of their creation with 340 boats signing up so quickly today. With all this interest, we expect a record-sized fleet to start from the Royal Yacht Squadron line, making the Rolex Fastnet Race by far the largest of the world’s classic 600-mile offshore races, in terms of participation. One not to be missed.”

Entries from 28 different nations have signed up and include; Great Britain, France (who have dominated the event in the recent years), Netherlands, Germany and USA, with an entry from Korea as well as from Australia and New Zealand. The race has attracted the usual diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classics to some of the world’s fastest racing machines – and everything in between, racing in IRC or selected offshore classes such as IMOCA60, VOR65, Class40 and MOCRA Multihull.

The 47th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club will start in the Solent from Cowes, Isle of Wight, on Sunday August 6, finishing in Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock, the symbol of the race located off the southern coast of Ireland.

Event details:

Background: The 603nm Rolex Fastnet Race is organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and just 7 boats sailed in the first race in 1925. The race has been sponsored since 2001 by Rolex SA of Geneva and is legendary within the world of ocean racing. The 47th edition of the biennial race will start off the Royal Yacht Squadron line, Cowes, Isle of Wight on Sunday 6th August 2017. It is the largest offshore race in the world and attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts.


Source: Scuttlebutt, RORC

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