RORC Racing Manager Nick Elliott predicted 'a scramble for places' last October when it was announced that priority would be given to RORC members wishing to secure a place in the historic race celebrating its 90th year. He wasn't wrong. Just 24 minutes after the online entry system opened at midday on 12th January, over 300 boats had registered for the Rolex Fastnet Race. The frenetic trend continued and by the end of the afternoon, 375 boats had signed up for the biennial 608-nautical miler, which has been an established fixture on the ocean racing circuit since 1925.
“Within 24 hours of online entries opening in the race two years ago it was oversubscribed, and with a waiting list. We thought that was remarkable, but yesterday we reached the same number in 24 minutes! The Rolex Fastnet Race has great reverence with sailors worldwide wishing to compete in this iconic race and add it to their bucket list,” says Elliott.
Still time to register an entry – priority to RORC members
All is not lost for those who still wish to enter. Following the popularity of the 2013 race, when the entry limit was increased to 340 boats, the RORC Committee decided that RORC members would get priority for the first week of registration. Boats have to meet the strict entry qualification and training criteria of the race and after Sunday 18th January, all registered boats will be sorted and places offered on a first come, first served basis, with RORC members receiving priority over non-members. Boats registering after this date will be allocated places in the order in which they apply, regardless of membership.
The advice from the RORC Race Team is to register as soon as possible and a useful guide for entrants, explaining the main points needed to consider before entering – crew qualification, boat suitability and the process of entry itself – is available on the RORC Rolex Fastnet Race minsite.
80 years on, 1935 Fastnet winner returns
Among the first boats to register their entry for the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race was one of the best-known and loved classic yachts sailing today, Stormy Weather, the 1934 Sparkman & Stephens 52ft yawl who was named after the song. She has an illustrious racing pedigree, winning the King's Cup in the Newport-Bergen Transatlantic Race a year after she was launched, before arriving to see Uffa Fox in Cowes in 1935 and going on to win the Fastnet Race the same year.
The race had just 17 starters and Stormy was the only American entry in a fleet dominated by 13 British entries. **Although some of the British press displayed a severe case of “sour grapes” when they bemoaned the quality, and perhaps quantity, of Stormy's sails, Yachting World gallantly noted that, “By winning the Fastnet Cup in such a convincing manner, [Stormy Weather] has demonstrated her right to be the champion deep-sea yacht of the world.” And went on to add, “At the same time she is undoubtedly of a type which is well suited to the requirements of ordinary cruising.”
So far, six S & S-designed classic yachts have signed up for the race, including Matt Brooks' 52ft yawl, Dorade which claimed victory for the second time in 2013 Transpac, 77 years after she won it in 1936.
The 46th edition of one of sailing's greatest contests – the Rolex Fastnet Race – reconvenes on Sunday 16th August, starting from Cowes, Isle of Wight to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock.
** Extract from former owner of Stormy Weather, Paul Adamthwaite, who has written extensively about her history. www.stormy.ca.