The Fastnet Race 2023 - an history 50th edition - sets off on Saturday 22 July with a record sized fleet. Here's everything you need to know to follow the race onshore and online
The Fastnet Race 2023 will be the 50th edition of the event and is set to be the largest offshore yacht race in the world, with over 440 entries. The Rolex Fastnet Race is one of the most famous ocean yacht races in the world, and completing it widely regarded as one of sailing’s crowning achievements.
Begun as a challenge between a handful of competing yachts in 1925, the Fastnet Race is run every two years by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC). The 605 nautical mile course traditionally ran from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, west to the Fastnet Rock lighthouse off the south-west corner of Ireland before returning to finish off Plymouth.
The race is well know as a challenge just to complete and the 1979 Fastnet Race disaster remains at the forefront of the minds of many of those who compete. The disaster led to huge improvements in yacht and safety gear design, and the race now has stringent entry requirements. However, the actual race course remained largely unchanged until 2021 when the finish line moved to Cherbourg, France instead of Plymouth in 2021 and 2023. This new course added a further 90 miles to the race – much of it a tricky tidal section – making it an even bigger challenge
When is the Fastnet Race 2023?
The 50th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race starts on Saturday 22 July with the first start at 1300 BST.
For those wishing to follow the action from the start, there will be a livestream shown on the various RORC channels.
The show will feature expert commentary from a team including British racers Mike Golding, Annie Lush and Pete Cumming, and French meteorologist Christian Dumard, on the Royal Yacht Squadron Platform for the start, along with on-the-water commentators.
Live coverage of the start beings at 1230 with the first class start is at 1300 BST.
Due to the strong wind forecast organisers RORC have reversed the start sequence, with the largest IRC yachts starting first instead of last so they can have a clear exit from the Solent. This means the starting sequence is slightly shorter, with 15 minutes between each class.
The first warning signal for the multihull fleet (including the two giant Ultimes) is at 1250 to start at 1300, the IMOCA 60s starting 15 minutes later, and so on in decreasing yacht size until the IRC 4 class start at 1445.
Watch the Rolex Fastnet Race start
Where to watch the Fastnet Race 2023
The best vantage points of the start will be along Cowes Green and Egypt Esplanade. As the fleet funnels west out of the Solent there will be lots of chances to see the yachts from Yarmouth as well. From the mainland you can view the yachts on their outbound leg; the best places to watch are from Hurst Castle, Anvil Point, St Alban’s Head and Portland Bill.
Track the Rolex Fastnet Race Fleet
All yachts competing in the Fastnet Race are fitted with a YB Tracker so you can follow an individual boat, a class or the whole fleet. The race tracker is linked to via the official race site https://www.rolexfastnetrace.com or direct at https://cf.yb.tl/fastnet2023
The tracker lets you watch the full fleet, separate classes or follow individual yachts.
Yachting World will also bring you all the latest news and views in the build up to the race and will be reporting throughout at our dedicated Fastnet Race homepage. We will also have several of the team on the ground and will be reporting both online and via video on our Yachting World Youtube channel and on Facebook and Instagram.
A list of competitors can be found at the RORC website.
Yachting World is the world’s leading magazine for bluewater cruisers and offshore sailors. Every month we have inspirational adventures and practical features to help you realise your sailing dreams.Build your knowledge with a subscription delivered to your door. See our latest offers and save at least 30% off the cover price.