The Fastnet

The Fastnet Race and CSORC

The Fastnet Race has been held since 1925, when it attracted seven entries and was won by Jolie Brise, a converted pilot cutter that is still sailing today. The early races continued in the same vein - sporadic events with small numbers of competitors most of which were not purpose-built racers.

Jolie Brise - winner of the first Fastnet in 1925 Jolie Brise - winner of the Fastnet in 1925

The race continued to grow until by the 70s over 300 boats came to the start line. The 1979 race hit the headlines when the fleet ran into an unforecast and very unusual storm. A combination of strong winds and a 90 degree windshift produced massive and unpredictable seas, which resulted in 15 yachts sinking. This led to a tightening of safety regulations and a 300 boat limit to entries. You can read more about the history of the Fastnet on the Royal Ocean Racing Club website.

The Mosika Alma trophy

Prior to the formation of CSORC, CSSA was involved in offshore racing and indeed entered the 1979 event. Skippered by Julian Forrester, Mosika Alma was knocked down and rolled on more than one occasion, but made it into Falmouth. Her windex was made into the Mosika Alma trophy, which CSORC awards for the best achievement in offshore racing each year (right).

Since then CSORC has entered many Fastnet races, either with our own boat or a boat chartered for the occasion. The race is, of course, held every two years.

Previous Fastnet Races

You can read about earlier Fastnet races in a selection of articles 1993, 1995, 1997 (MAFF Bulletin), 1997 (CS Sailing) and 1999

The CSORC Rolex Fastnet Campaign 2017

The next Fastnet race takes place in August 2017 (it's biennial), but plans are already underway for a CSORC entry. We will need to complete 300 miles of qualifying races in the 12 months prior to the race itself - probably starting in Spring next year. As in past years we will include training weekends, both ashore and on the water, prior to the first qualifying race next season. We are planning to charter a First 40 for the campaign. Watch this space or future developments.

The 2015 Campaign Story

The 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race started at Cowes on 16th August continuing along the south coast and across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet rock off Clear Island in SW Ireland, finally finishing just over 600 miles later in Plymouth. CSORC took part in Blue Juice, a First 40.7, skippered by Simon Zavad with a crew from a range of Civil Service departments. Here is their story:

Unaware of what we had let ourselves in for, CSORC's nine strong Fastnet 2015 crew began our journey in late April with a training weekend in the Solent. A week later, we embarked on the first of our three qualifying offshore races which were to include RORC's Cervantes, Myth of Malham and Channel Race. Proving challenging at times the races provided many opportunities for learning and development before the final campaign. Achieving a 3rd place finish in class in the Channel Race was beyond all expectations.

Not before long, August was upon us and an eager and enthusiastic crew met in Southampton for a last supper. The team chatted hopes and fears before bedding down in preparation for an early start to Cowes. Safely through the identity gate with the storm sails up, the anticipation was building (unlike the wind) and the start line offered a great opportunity for a last minute scope of the competition and melee of 300+ yachts. An excellent start saw Blue Juice in the first group out of the Solent towards Portland Bill before the wind dropped and progress slowed. Placing well up to Land's End, the team were hamstrung by a lack of wind once again. Even a jaunt up the mast failed to locate a useful breeze although morale was boosted by our very own pod of performing dolphins, team mascot Rebecca Rabbit, and a sausage sandwich.

A few frustrating hours later, 'faster than the wind' O Leary (the Mate) got us started towards the rock with Blue Juice crunching the miles (and blowing the genoa halyard in the process) making it round the rock just after midday on Tuesday. An exceptional performance from our skipper on the return leg saw us scream back past the Isles of Scilly with the spinnaker up and into Plymouth, arriving at 21:30 on Thursday. The 400 miles from Lands End to the Rock and to Plymouth were covered in just over 2 days! In an even quicker turnaround time, the team was showered and in the beer tent, pizza in hand. Blue Juice finished mid fleet, a really great result for a novice crew and charter yacht (we were up against olympic sailors and the best kit money can buy). Everyone had an amazing time, which included a quick breakfast and swim at Lulworth Cove on our way home. We are raring to go for our next adventure!

The qualifying races with finishing position in class IRC 2

Race Start Course Position/Starters
Cervantes Trophy 2 May Cowes-Le Havre 22nd/23
Myth of Malham 23rd May Cowes-Eddystone 18th/35
Channel Race 1st Aug Round marks 3rd/23
Fastnet 16th Aug 49th/72

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