Growth for two for the Fastnet Race >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News
While the International Olympic Committee has turned down the mixed offshore keelboat event for the 2024 Paris Games, interest remains high in this segment of the sport, with 91 duos among the 400+ participants scheduled to start the Rolex Fastnet Race 2021 on. August 8.
With 64 participants in 2019, the 2021 race moved the finish line from Plymouth, UK to Cherbourg, France, extending these crewed sailors from 608 to 695nm and crossing the English Channel … the real becomes more real.
The 2013 race was a golden edition for the father-son duo, Pascal and Alexis Loison, who led the JPK 1010 Night and Day to victory in the general classification. Alexis Loison’s success continued in 2019 with the JPK 1030 Léon. Running with boat builder Jean Pierre Kelbert, Leon won IRC Three and IRC Two-Handed.
Leon led the class at two by 17 minutes at Fastnet Rock but won the class by nearly five hours to the finish. “After the Rock, we had good stretch conditions with heavy seas,” recalls Alexis Loison. “With the A5 spinnaker up we were surfing at 19 knots and by the time we reached the Isles of Scilly we were with IRC One!
For the 2021 edition, Alexis will face Leon with a rising star. Guillaume Pirouelle excelled in Class 470, won the Tour de France sailing and was selected for the skipper of the Normandy Region in the Figaro Class. If the duo is successful in this year’s race, the two Normans will undoubtedly be welcomed as heroes in Alexis’ home port, Cherbourg.
“We don’t think about the finish; all our efforts are put into preparing Leon for the race, ”continues Alex. “The competition in the two-man class is very strong for the British Sun Fast teams and like Leon, they will be very fast under intense stretch conditions.
James Harayda and Dee Caffari race the Sun Fast 3300 Gentoo, a new two-handed duo this year and proven race winners. Dee has extensive offshore experience including the Volvo Ocean Race, six round-the-world races, the Vendée Globe, and was the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in both directions.
James competed in 2019 on Gallivanter and looks forward to the new course and the tactical decisions that come with it. “I love racing for adventure, excitement and challenge and I look forward to the new arrival destination of Cherbourg,” said Harayda.
Henry Bomby and Shirley Robertson will compete in the Sun Fast 3300 Swell race in the Rolex Fastnet Race. Henry finished second in the two-handed class in 2019, running Fastrak XI with Hannah Diamond. Quadruple Figaro Henry Bomby also took part in the last Volvo Ocean Race and this will be his fifth Rolex Fastnet Race. Shirley Robertson was the first British woman to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. This will be Shirley’s third race, but she has no illusions that it will be a very different experience, competing for the first time in the Rolex Fastnet Race in doubles.
Kelvin Rawlings and Stuart Childerley, two-man winners in 2015, will race with Kelvin’s Sun Fast 3300 Aries. Kelvin is an amateur sailor with decades of success in racing big boats. Stuart is double Etchells world champion and double Olympic. Stuart will participate in the race after returning from the Tokyo Games where he is the Finn class racing officer. The Aries crew have a combined age of 126.
Earlier in the 2021 season, Aries put on a winning performance by beating Bellino and Gentoo. “It all depends on Stuart Childerley, I’m just the worker at the bow!” Rawlings joked. “Our goal is to win by sailing as well and as hard as possible. I enjoy every second of it.
Veteran rider Alex Bennett will be in a two-man race with his colleague Conrad Humphreys in his 1984 Swan 46 Ginny B. British team accolades come off the page with Bennett excelling in the Mini Transat and Class40 arena, while the success of Humphreys includes a skipper who won the BT Global Challenge and finished the Vendée Globe.
“The challenge is always greater when you are shorthanded and it offers the greatest challenge on this type of course,” says Bennett, who is impressed with the IRC Two-Handed fleet. “It’s huge, like the Mini Transat fleet in terms of number. Bennett first competed in the Rolex Fastnet Race in 1995, when at 19 he led the Fastnet Youth Challenge to second place in his class aboard a Sigma 36.
The 49th edition of the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race will depart from the Royal Yacht Squadron line on August 8 in Cowes, UK. The 2021 race moved the finish line from Plymouth, UK, to Cherbourg, France, extending the distance from 608 to 695 nm.
Source: RORC, Scuttlebutt