|Historic race becomes a legend
In one month’s time, on 22 July, yet another record-sized fleet will depart from Cowes to tackle the 50th edition of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s premier event: the Rolex Fastnet Race.
At present from across the globe 491 yachts of all shapes and sizes, ranging from 9m to 30m, are on the race’s provisional entry list. This is 26% more than the previous record entry of 388 that participated in 2019’s pre-COVID edition – the largest leap in entries in the event’s recent history.
Given this is more than twice that of any of the other classic international 600 mile offshore races, the Rolex Fastnet Race is soundly the biggest offshore yacht race in the world.
The first Fastnet Race, originally called ‘The Ocean Race’ was held in 1925 on a course from the Solent, where the start was from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club in Ryde, before the boats exited the Solent to east, then headed to the Fastnet Rock, finishing in Plymouth. With the start moving to Cowes the following year, the race going biennial in 1931, gaining Bishop Rock as a turning mark, and, as a one-off, finishing back in Cowes in 1933, the course remained largely fixed until the fleet outgrew Plymouth and was moved to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin in offshore racing-friendly France for the first time in 2021.