RORC issues statement in response to criticism about lack of race tracking in the Rolex Fastnet

The Royal Ocean Racing Club is aware of the criticism from a number of sources about the lack of a website chart displaying regular positions of yachts participating in the 2005 Rolex Fastnet Race.

The RORC shares the frustration of people who wish to follow the Rolex Fastnet race in this way, and had hoped to have an effective tracking system available to cover the whole fleet for 2005. However, there are a number of issues that have prevented the use of such a system this year.

The first is the sheer size of the fleet. With 283 entries, the provision and installation of a tracking system in a fleet of this size is a significant logistical exercise. Unlike events where the entries gather at the start port in the build up to the race, not all entries come to a Cowes marina prior to the start, and with a very busy Solent racing programme in the lead up the Rolex Fastnet it is not possible to berth all the Rolex Fastnet entries in Cowes. This means that the use of a hard wired system, installed specifically for the race, would be impractical. The use of the ARGOS system was the Club’s preferred option as this is a stand alone, easily installed unit. However, ARGOS could not provide enough units for the whole fleet.

There are also a number of presentational difficulties. The CYCA’s website for the Rolex Sydney to Hobart is one of the most effective and the Club had lengthy discussions with the CYCA on the use of their expertise to help with the Rolex Fastnet, and is very grateful for their advice and assistance.

The Club has kept the race’s sponsor, Rolex, fully informed of developments. However, in view of a number of issues that would have presented a less than satisfactory solution it was jointly decided with Rolex not to proceed with the use of tracking for 2005.

In order to show as much information as possible, the RORC has not only placed race officers on the Fastnet Rock, but also has a communications vessel, the Ocean Breeze, near the Labadie Bank to take reports from entries.

RORC is committed to finding a practical and proven system for the next race, and the Club intends to use tracking for the Round Britain and Ireland Race in 2006 where the fleet size will enable appropriate tracking devices to be installed.

Picture: the TP52 Patches rounds the Rock in fog. Carlo Borlenghi