Attrition begins for 49th Fastnet Race

Published on August 8th, 2021

Cowes, UK (August 8, 2021) – The Rolex Fastnet Race has a reputation for the severe weather that it can throw at its competitors. Still strongly remembered is the 1979 race that cost 19 lives, the 49th edition of the 96-year-old offshore racing classic lived up to its fame today as the seven starts got underway.

Over the last three days strong southwesterly winds have been blowing up the Channel and competitors today were treated to these same headwinds gusting into the 30s and, as the tide turned off the Needles and in the western Solent, a building wind-against-tide sea state developed in the early stage of the 695 nm course.

Just getting to the start line of was challenging as COVID, international travel restrictions due to COVID, plus Brexit impacted participation. This along with a lively forecast for the race’s first 24 hours caused entries to drop as start day approached.

After 388 starters in 2019, today had 337 boats from 24 nations including Japan, Mexico, and eight from the USA, but the majority from Europe, including the largest ever turn-out from France.

Despite winds gusting to 35 knots, the starts got away well, but attrition had already begun. For Vendée Globe winner Yannick Bestaven on Maître CoQ, he was about to start when his IMOCA was involved in a collision with a vessel damaging her bow and forcing him to retire. By 1630 UTC this was up to 24.

Two of the MOCRA multihull favourites were out – Christian Guyader, the 2019 winner on board his TS5 catamaran Guyader Mext and Yann Marilley’s Outremer 5x Racing catamaran No Limit on which famous sailor Loick Peyron was racing. No Limit retired after she dismasted. Also, the MOD70 Maserati had to turn back when a winch exploded.

One of the favorites of IRC Two, Gilles Fournier/ Corinne Migraine’s J/133 Pintia was also forced to retire. Similarly Ed Bell’s JPK 11.80 Dawn Treader is out with a broken mast. In IRC One, one of the Rolex Fastnet Race’s most regular competitors, the Goubau family from Belgium, were also forced to pull out on their First 47.7 Moana.

Winners of the IRC Two Handed class in 2015 Kelvin Rawlings and Stuart Childerley, back this year to have another go at this title aboard the Sun Fast 3300 Aries, also become a statistic in this race. So too have another British favourite for this class, Rob Craigie and Deb Fish on board the Sun Fast 3600 Bellino.

Competitors are expecting a breezy night but for conditions to slowly abate over the next 24 hours.

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The 49th edition of the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race will start from the Royal Yacht Squadron line on August 8 in Cowes, UK. The 2021 race has moved the finish line from Plymouth, UK to Cherbourg, France, extending the distance from 608 to 695 nm.

Source: RORC

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