More than 20 nations registered to take part in this year's Fastnet Race
There are a record number of entries for this year’s Fastnet Race. The 608-mile race this August will have the largest number of participants in its 89-year history. Over 350 yachts, and as many as 380 yachts, from five continents and over 22 different countries will be taking part.
The diversity of the yachts and participants is extraordinary. The maxi trimaran Spindrift 2 is the holder of the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest circumnavigation, sailing around the world in just over 45 days. Internet entrepreneur Niklas Zennström’s 72′ mini maxi Rán 2 is hoping to win the Rolex Fastnet Race for an unprecedented third time in a row. Plus the original winner of the first race in 1925, the Pilot Cutter Jolie Brise, celebrating her centenary, is also competing.
Built in 1913, Jolie Brise has participated in the Fastnet race four times, winning three races including the inaugural race in 1925. Her career as a pilot boat was short-lived, owing to steam replacing sail, she became a fishing boat for a time before being bought by E.G Martin in 1923, a founder member of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. Evelyn George Martin met with a group of distinguished sailors, including Algernon Maudsley, to discuss an ocean race. Martin pulled a ten shilling note from his pocket, placed it on the desk and asked Maudsley if he would do the same. In that moment, the Ocean Racing Club was formed. After some discussion a race ‘from Cowes round the Fastnet and back to Plymouth’ was announced for yachts not exceeding a waterline length of 50ft. Jolie Brise won the first race and also won in 1929 and 1930 and to this day, she is the only yacht to have won the race three times.
Since 1977, Dauntsey’s School Sailing Club has sailed and maintained Jolie Brise, as skipper Toby Marris explains:
“Since Dauntsey’s School started to sail Jolie Brise, over 9000 pupils have sailed on her. She sails about 220 days each year, clocking up about 10,000 miles. We have raced across the Atlantic with The Tall Ships Race, as far north as inside the Arctic Circle, east as far as Russia and south as far as The Cape Verde Islands. Jolie Brise is available for charter but during Dauntsey’s School’s holidays, the pupils have priority. For the Fastnet, we will have seven girls and boys from Dauntsey’s School, all under 18 and two crew selected by The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. This year’s race will be a once in a lifetime experience. Our goal is always to enjoy sailing her, but this race will become part of her history, so it is very special.”
Since 1930, four yachts have come close to equalling Jolie Brise’s three overall victories, but none have yet to succeed. Olin Stephens’ Dorade (1931 & 1933), Capt. J.H.Illingworth’s Myth of Malham (1947 & 1949), Dick Nye’s Carina (1955 & 1957) and Niklas Zennström’s Rán 2 (2009 & 2011). This year, the mini maxi Rán 2 will be attempting to win the trophy for an unprecedented third consecutive year.