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Royal Ocean Racing Club
ROLEX FASTNET RACE NEWS
The allure of the Rolex Fastnet Race continues to attract competitors from around
the globe. 19 different nations will be represented in this year's race with entries
from the following countries: Austria; Belgium; China; Finland; France; Great Britain;
Germany; Hong Kong; Ireland; Italy; Lithuania; Netherland; New Zealand; Norway;
Russia; Switzerland; Sweden; United Arab Emirates and USA. The British and French
make up the bulk of the fleet, but the entries prove that the Rolex Fastnet still
crosses the oceans as it did in its earliest days.
40 days until the start: Cowes-Plymouth,UK via the Fastnet Rock!
Boats from 19 different nations will berth at Sutton Harbour Marina, Plymouth after
the finish of the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race. Credit: Rolex/ Carlo Borlenghi
Tracking: Follow the Yellowbrick....
Yellowbrick Trackers will be fitted to every boat in the Rolex Fastnet Race allowing
friends and family to follow the race.
Yellowbrick are delighted to be providing the tracking devices for this year's Rolex
Fastnet Race, which will relay real-time position data from the race, and display
it on a simple-to-use race viewer accessed through the event website. Friends and
family will be able to track competitors' every move!
The compact yellow devices are becoming a familiar sight for many offshore racers;
Yellowbricks have now been used in more than 70 international yacht regattas, including
the Velux 5 Oceans Race, Barcelona World Race, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
In the 2011 Rolex Fastnet, every boat will be provided with a Yellowbrick. Fully
automatic and self-contained, the devices obtain GPS position data and transmit
it back to Yellowbrick HQ using the Iridium Satellite System, no matter where it
is placed in the world. Each boat's position is updated within seconds of the data
being transmitted, and displayed immediately online via the race viewer.
Nick Farrell, Managing Director of Yellowbrick, says; "We are looking forward to
providing tracking devices for the Rolex Fastnet Race, which is renowned as one
of the most challenging yacht races there is. Yellowbricks are lightweight, waterproof
and built to withstand extreme environments, so no matter what challenges the competitors
might face on the water, spectators and organisers will be able to know each yacht's
exact location at all times. A social media feed is also part of the race viewer
for the first time this year, adding a whole new dimension to the race."
Past Winners Return:
Piet Vroon returns with his Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens. As 'The Grandfather of
all competitors' he's a top contender for the overall Fastnet Trophy. One to watch!
Credit: Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com
Tonnerre de Breskens (NED):
Piet Vroon has been racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club since the 1950's and
at 81 years young, he is probably the oldest competitor in the race. As skipper
of the Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, Piet has enjoyed tremendous success. However,
the Fastnet Trophy eluded him for nearly half a century before he finally won it
in 2001. Since 1955, Piet has only failed to go around the Fastnet Rock on two
occasions, once when the yacht was dismasted and secondly to attend his mother's
funeral: "It is a very hard race to win overall," commented Piet.
"First of all you have to have a good boat and crew but also you need to have the
same wind as everybody else. Often the bigger boats get different weather to the
rest, so it makes it much harder to win with a smaller boat. If we all get the
same weather, then everybody has a chance. Last time was the first Rolex Fastnet
with the new boat and were second in our class. However, we would like to do better
than that this year, we know the boat a lot more, we have better sails and a good
crew, so I have high hopes for the race. At my age, I am old enough to be the grandfather
of all of the competitors but there comes a time when I have to stop, so I will
enjoy this one as if it is my last."
IRC Overall Winners 2005 Rolex Fastnet Race: Jean-Yves Chateau's Iromiguy.
Credit: Rolex/Daniel Forster
Iromiguy (FRA): Jean-Yves Chateau will be racing again this year in Class Four.
Chateau is one of only three sailors from France that have lifted the Fastnet Trophy,
winning with his Nicholson 33, Iromiguy in 2005. The only two previous French winners
were the legendary Eric Tabarly (Pen-Duick III - 1969) and Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool-Europe
2 - 1999), the only female skipper to have won the race overall.
Iromiguy's win in 2005 was quite exceptional as it was one of the smallest yachts
in the fleet in a race traditionally dominated by big boats. Iromiguy's victory
was a dream come true, proof that just occasionally the Corinthian weekend enthusiast
can prevail in an unremarkable boat. What is remarkable is that you have to go back
to 1975 for the last time that a yacht less than 40 feet long won the offshore classic.
"In 2005 I came to win my class," said Chateau. "But I didn't think it was possible
to win the whole race. It was unbelievable, a childhood dream." The St. Malo skipper
has owned Iromiguy for nearly 30 years. "Every year I go to the French boat show
and I say I must buy a new boat, but every year I find myself sailing this one.
The sails are worth more than the boat," he admitted. In any case, the sentimental
value to Chateau after her memorable victory must make her priceless.
Supporters: Pantaenius Buoy
The Pantaenius Buoy
The Pantaenius Buoy is a Special Buoy which is laid by Irish Lights on behalf of
the Royal Ocean Racing Club, as a spreader mark after the Fastnet Rock. Sponsors
Pantaenius have been providing yacht insurance to yacht owners all over the world
and with over 65,000 clients, is the number one insurance provider in Europe.
RORC Racing Manager Ian Loffhagen explains its purpose as a spreader mark and safety
measure on the Rolex Fastnet Race: "The Panaenius Buoy stops boats rounding the
Fastnet Rock and heading back on the reciprocal track directly towards boats approaching
the Rock. With the speed of modern yachts reaching fast in both directions there
could be a collision speed of 50 knots or more so the laying of the Panaenius Buoy
avoids this." A Notice to Mariners is issued by Irish Lights for the duration of
An Ocean Giant - Maxi Banque Populaire V
Racing the ocean giant
trimaran, Banque Populaire V,
Brian Thompson hopes to beat the current race record
Credit: B. Stichelbaut/BPCE
Brian Thompson from Southampton, UK, has notched up more multihull sailing miles
than any other Briton and has amassed 25 sailing records in the process. For the
2011 Rolex Fastnet Race, Brian will be racing on the giant maxi Banque Populaire
V, Skippered by the legendary Loick Peyron, the 140-foot trimaran is hot favourite
to take line honours and the course record for the Rolex Fastnet Race in the multihull
division. The Royal Ocean Racing Club has permitted these ocean giants to enter
the race, something that Brian Thompson applauds:
"I think it is really fantastic that RORC have opened up the event, it is a real
celebration of sailing to see a Sigma 33 on the same race course as Banque Populaire.
I don't think there has ever been a major ocean race like this one with such a diversity
of boats. All credit to RORC for making it such an open event."
"It is really valuable to get Banque Populaire into race mode, there are two brand
new MOD 70s, which will be really quick, we are twice their length but in light
air they could be good. We are set up to go around the world non-stop with the prevailing
winds but even upwind, we are very efficient as we have trim tabs, dagger boards,
a canting mast, so we have all the right kit. When you see Banque Populaire at the
start, you will see how amazing she is, it is a pleasure for me, every time we go
"Personally I have been on board doing 45 knots and the top speed recorded is 47
knots. I hope that we will beat the record, the average speed we need to break
the round the world record is 24.5 knots and the Fastnet course should be a lot
faster because we should have more guaranteed weather but if it is a drifter there
is no way we could get the record. The ideal conditions for the boat would be a
wind angle of 110-125 true wind angle, we could then be sailing at 1.8 times the
wind speed at times, say 25 knots of boat speed in 15 knots of wind. We will probably
have a crew of fifteen plus Digby Fox who will be filming on board, last time he
did the race in an old gaff rigged Pilot Cutter, Morwenna and we hope that we will
be able to get him round a bit quicker this time!"
The Fastnet Rock
Passing the Fastnet Rock in the 2009 Race: Roger Sturgeon's STP 65, Rosebud/Team
DYT (USA) Credit: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo
The Fastnet Lighthouse positioned at 51°23'.3N 009°36'.1W is known as 'The Teardrop
of Ireland' - the last sight of Ireland for emigrants sailing to America. The Fastnet
Rock is 4.5 miles South West of Cape Clear and Mizen Head. There are two pinnacles
of hard clay shale with veins of quartz rising to a height of 30 metres above the
low water mark, all surrounded by deep water. The height of the tower is 54 metres.
The Corporation of Trinity House sanctioned the first lighthouse, a cast iron tower,
in 1848 to replace the Cape Clear Lighthouse, which was too far inside the dangers,
too high and too often obscured by fog. This first Fastnet light first shone on
New Year's Day 1854. There were originally six keepers associated with the Fastnet
Rock - four on the rock at a time with the other two on leave. Relief were twice
a month when two men were taken off; each man did four weeks on, two weeks off.
One man had to stay on watch during daytime to look out for fog and to signal passing
ships. As soon as fog was seen, another man was called up to work the fog signal!
Trending Younger: British Keelboat Academy (BKA): Yeoman of Wight
Racing on Yeoman of Wight as part of the British Keelboat Academy Squad, Robin Elsey
brings 'great enthusiasm' as the youngest crew
18 year old Robin Elsey is currently in the 6th form at Truro School (Cornwall,
UK) and he will be racing as part of the British keelboat Academy's (BKA) squad
in his first Fastnet Race. He is the youngest member on board the J/109, Yeoman
of Wight, generously on loan from David Aisher:
"I might be one of the youngest crew members, but I bring great enthusiasm to the
boat as I am new to offshore racing and every aspect is a wonderful experience.
I am experienced in helming which is one of my biggest strengths and also in international
RYA Laser Standard Youth campaigns to European and the World Championships. This
has given me many insights into a sailing campaign which make me a useful crew
member," comments Elsey. "It will be a fantastic experience to be able to compete
in the Rolex Fastnet Race as it is one of the most important ocean races in the
world as well as one of the most difficult. My dream is to compete in the Volvo
Ocean Race and I see this as a key stepping stone to complete that ambition. I
am looking forward to rounding the Fastnet Rock as this is one of the most famous
sites in yacht racing and to competing in the race which has been a long held ambition
of mine. I am also looking forward to returning successfully to Plymouth!"
"Being part of the BKA is a great experience as we are all driven individuals working
towards the same goal of being successful in whichever campaign we have decided
to do that year. As I have moved from the RYA Volvo National Laser Standard Youth
Squad where the emphasis is on self-reliance, the BKA has allowed me to get used
to sailing as part of a team. Being part of the BKA has developed me as an individual
outside of sailing, especially when helping to find sponsorship for the Rolex
Fastnet by approaching firms and individuals. This has made me far more professional
in my life and my sailing career."
Yeoman of Wight will be skippered for the BKA by Luke McCarthy: "We are hugely appreciative
of David Aisher lending us his boat for the 2011 Rolex Fastnet campaign. This allows
the sailors from the British Keelboat Academy to get valuable offshore experience
in a competitive boat, which complements our other campaigns which are inshore on
the J/80 and Farr 45. It can seem daunting for young sailors to get into offshore
sailing - everything from getting used to sailing the boat 24 hours a day and sleeping
at strange times, to actually getting in touch with suitable boats."
"As well as the sailing, the BKA sailors are involved with all aspects of the campaign
including planning which events to compete in, organising crew, safety equipment
and food. This gives them invaluable experience which they can take forward for
their future sailing, whether this is at professional level or amateur level. It
is great to see former squad members such as Jamie Holmes ('Jika Jika'), Ed Hill
(Swan 62) and Nick Cherry (Double Handed on a Figaro as part of the Artemis Academy),
all putting the skills they learned to good use on top campaigns."
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