The Fastnet Rock and its eponymous race is the stuff of legend: read our essential guide, plus some fascinating facts about the classic offshore challenge
- When does it start? 1230 Saturday, 3 August 2019 at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes.
- How long is the Fastnet Race? 608 miles, from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock.
- Who’s racing this year? A record fleet of more than 300 boats, including charity entries, private yachts, double-handers, foiling IMOCA 60s and super-fast Ultime trimarans aiming to smash the course record.
- How can I watch? There are several ways to follow the Fastnet Race, from online coverage and tracking services to shoreside spectator events.
- Who won the 2017 Fastnet Race? Charles Cauderlier and the crew of Dongfeng Racing, who beat Spanish team MAPFRE by just 56 seconds.
17 incredible Fastnet facts
1. Only 7 boats raced in the first edition of the Fastnet Race in 1925. The winner was a gaff-rigged pilot cutter named Jolie Brise.
2. The Fastnet Rock is also known as the ‘teardrop of Ireland’
3. In 1925, the winner completed the course in 147 hours. Today, yachts are competing to beat the monohull record of 42 hours 39 minutes, set by the Volvo 70 yacht Abu Dhabi in 2011.
Article continues below…
The 608-mile Rolex Fastnet Race is a true blue riband event and offshore classic, attracting a capacity fleet which sells out within…
With at least two Ultimes set to take on the Fastnet course this year, Loick Peyron’s 2011 course record could…
4. This year’s entry list of 340 IRC yachts was filled in just 4 minutes 37 seconds! In total 478 boats will compete, including entries in the Class 40, IMOCA 60, Volvo Ocean 65 and Multihull grand prix classes.
5. The main trophy for overall winner of the Rolex Fastnet is called the Fastnet Challenge Cup. There are however, an additional 30 trophies presented at prizegiving.
6. Crews pass eight famous landmarks along the route: the Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, the Lizard, Land’s End, the Fastnet Rock, Bishop’s Rock off the Scillies and Plymouth breakwater.
7. The first race after the Second World War was held in 1947, and the prize went to the first yacht ever custom built for offshore racing, John Illingworth’s Myth of Malham.
8. The 1979 edition of the race goes down in history for its tragic outcome. Eighteen people lost their lives following a ferocious storm. Less than a third of the 303-strong fleet finished the race. After the event, numerous changes were brought in, including mandatory storm sails and VHF radios.
9. In 2007, the race start had to be delayed by 24 hours due to a severe weather warning. It was the first time in the event’s 82-year history that they had suffered a delay to the start.
10. At least 26 countries are represented. Great Britain makes up 39% of the fleet in 2019, but 61%, or a whopping 287 boats, will have come from overseas, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.