For the first time in race history, RORC race organizers postponed the start of the Fastnet Race by 25 hours due to a severe weather warning from the UK Met Office, which would have put the bulk of the fleet in the middle of the Celtic Sea as a low pressure system approached, with no safe port to run to.
Cooling its heels in Southampton was Mike Slade’s brand-new super maxi canting keeled ICAP Leopard. The scratch boat in the Rolex Fastnet fleet, the 100-foot super maxi was launched in June but has been out sailing almost every day since. Slade commented, “I applaud the wisdom and preference to delay, as the smaller boats will have an option to continue on or not, while the bigger boats will be on their way.” Slade says the new Leopard has a safe and comfortable rig, and while they’ve seen 30-40 knots and had the trysail and number five up, they have yet to sail in slamming seas and big gusts that this year’s Rolex Fastnet could cook up.
Chris Tibbs, the meteorologist for the Rolex Fastnet Race, has forecast a south-westerly wind, Force 3/4 (7 – 16 kts) for today’s start. Tuesday should see the strongest winds, likely to be near the Lizard and Land’s End with the wind south-southwest Force 6/7 (25 – 38 kts), with a possible increase to gale-force Force 8 (34 – 40 kts). By then, the bigger boats will be past and the smaller boats will still have options for shelter if the breeze strengthens.