Not everyone's happy at the RORC's Fastnet postponement but it makes sense for the majority


The best, slickest and most summery Cowes Week I can remember came to a sobering end yesterday with the announcement that the Fastnet Race was to be postponed by 25 hours due to an impending storm. At the skippers’ briefing, weather expert Chris Tibbs explained that different weather models varied but said:

“The Met Office have told me that on Tuesday there is a 60 per cent of the winds being Force 8, a 10 per cent chance of it being a Force 9 and a small but significant chance of it being stronger if the [forecast] low deepens.”

Some of the race’s big boys are not so happy about this. Instead of meeting a south-westerly gale freed off past the Scilly Isles, the postponement means they will now have to beat into it in the Channel. For sure, that will be nasty.

But it’s hard to see else what the RORC could have done. The postponement also means that the smaller boats will be under safe ports of refuge all the way to Land’s End as the low passes north, rather than being out at the mercy of the Celtic Sea, as the fleet was in 1979. The decision makes perfect sense for the majority, though everyone will have 12 horrible hours to endure on Tuesday.

Janet Grosvenor (above), racing manager of the RORC, sounded calm and perfectly in control as she made the announcement. On several occasions skippers were reminded that the decision to race and continue racing was their own “sole and inescapable responsibility”. After the jolly pleasures of a Solent regatta the more serious business of ocean racing was beginning with an act of due deference.