Leaving the wife for another woman

Published on December 12th, 2019

There is a collection of classic offshore races – Newport Bermuda Race, Sydney Hobart Race, Middle Sea Race, and the Fastnet Race – that hold membership in the 600-miler club.

These races have long histories and iconic courses that have challenged generation after generation. Legendary traditions surround the start and finish venues, but one of the icons of the club has disrupted the gathering by leaving their wife for another woman.

This would be the Fastnet Race which revealed it would be changing the finish location for the 2021 and 2023 editions from Plymouth, UK to Cherbourg, France. Since the first edition, the biennial race has had one course, but now will be lengthened from 603nm to 695nm.

Expectantly, the port city of Plymouth is none too pleased about this change, particularly as they view the purpose of this move is to serve the commercial interests of the race organizer. Here the City Council shares their opinion in an open letter to the planet:

We are beyond disappointed with the announcement by the Royal Ocean Racing Club as Plymouth has hosted the end of this tough race since it started in 1925.

Plymouth is the city which welcomed hundreds of sailors home every two years after a grueling course. It is the city that saw a battered fleet limp in during the 1979 race which resulted in tragic loss of life and involved the largest ever peacetime rescue operation.

It is the city that saw the rebirth of the race which attracts amateurs and professionals alike compete to break new records along a very distinct course. Plymouth is part of the race’s DNA and the Royal Ocean Racing Club has called Plymouth the race’s ancestral home.

Hosting the race was not something we took for granted and we worked extremely hard to keep the race in recent years against some fierce competition. This year we worked with RORC by making a significant investment to market the race to locals and visitors. We also supported RORC to create a lively race village.

The club has been complementary about our work as host city and we had talks at the highest level about the role Plymouth could play in Fastnet’s new, more commercial future.

Our main challenge was the berths are spread wider geographically than RORC would have liked, something they feel limits the more commercial direction the event is heading in. We had been working on plans to address this but do not yet have the infrastructure that the event organizers require.

On Plymouth’s watch, this race has grown to sell out in three and half minutes but it is clear that we couldn’t match the French port’s offer – either financially or geographically – as the race takes a new direction, literally.

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