Neville Crichton's 90ft Reichel/Pugh-designed super-maxi Shockwave will compete in the Fastnet

The Rolex Fastnet Race continues to live up to its reputation as a premier offshore event with the news that owner/skipper Neville Crichton has entered the 90-foot Reichel/Pugh-designed super-maxi Shockwave.

The biennial Rolex Fastnet Race is considered one of the world’s classic ocean races, the 608-mile course a test for skippers and crews with its tricky tidal currents and changeable weather conditions. The race, organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, with the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Royal Western Yacht Club, Plymouth will start at 10.00am on Sunday, 10 August, off Cowes, Isle of Wight.

Shockwave (as Alfa Romeo) achieved a significant line honours victory at the most recent Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Crichton’s latest Shockwave (his sixth) was launched in August 2002. For the Fastnet, free of any rating restriction, she will be configured with water ballast and a lighter keel, and is expected to rate 1.708 (from the 1.600 cap in Australia). Designed as an all-around performer, able to reach high speeds to windward and capable in all conditions, Shockwave is a serious prospect for line honours and the race record. The record for water-ballasted monohulls, would require an average speed of more than 11.48 knots.

At the other end of the size spectrum, the first boat to enter was Magnum II, a brand-new IMX 40, owned by Andrew Pearce. In 2001, Pearce was fifth in class in the Fastnet and winner of the RORC’s Alan Paul Trophy for most consistent performer over full RORC season — he and his crew were first timers in both. With an ambition to achieve selection for the Rolex Commodores’ Cup in 2004, Pearce knows he and his crew will have to raise their game considerably over the coming months. Pearce said: “The Rolex Fastnet is very much the focus of our 2003 season. We may be an amateur crew in some respects, but our preparation will be as complete and professional as possible. ?We will do our best to leave nothing to chance.”