Racing yachts set sail for tough course
Just 24 minutes after the online-entry system opened in January for the Rolex Fastnet Race, over 300 boats had registered. The frenetic trend continued, and by the end of the afternoon, 375 boats had signed up for the biennial, which has been an established fixture on the ocean-racing circuit since 1925. There is still a waiting list of 80 boats.
The world’s largest, most diverse fleet of offshore racing yachts will set sail on Aug. 16, from the Solent — the strait that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England. The 603-mile course takes the fleet west along the south coast of England, across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock off the tip of southwest Ireland, south around Bishop Rock and the Scilly Isles, and back east to the finish in Plymouth.
Conditions on the race course can range from benign and summery to vicious and stormy. One of the important battles is the race for monohull line honors, which this year, looks set to be a much-anticipated, heavyweight bout between two American maxis: George David’s 88-foot Rambler 88 and Jim Clark’s 100-foot Comanche. Both are brand new, launched late last year.
“The Rolex Fastnet Race is a world classic and probably the largest, most famous of its type,” says Eddie Warden Owen, chief executive of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. “The challenge for many is completing what can be a very tough adventure. But also its attraction for the experienced offshore racer is that they can compete with the top, professionally raced yachts and have a realistic chance of winning.”
In 2013, the race was won by a father-and-son team.
“This shows that anyone has a chance of winning the most prestigious race on the world calendar,” says Owen.
First St Barths, now Newport Bucketeers ready
With the 21st edition of the St Barths Bucket Regatta a recent memory — 35 superyachts took to the waters for three races planned over three days in March — sailing yacht owners are preparing for the Newport Bucket Regatta, Aug. 27 to 30.
The first bucket regatta was organized in Nantucket, Mass., in August 1986. Between 1986 and 2001, the Nantucket Bucket flourished, becoming a premier mega-yacht regatta that invited owners and crews of the world’s largest sailing yachts to sail to peak performance in the spirit of wholesome competition. The first St Barths Bucket was sailed in 1995 with a fleet of four yachts.
The Newport Bucket, which started in 2002 and hosted by the Newport Shipyard, boasts a multitude of contemporary and classic sailing yachts descending upon the region once more. Last year, team members of P2 and Meteor received specially engraved “ship’s bell” clocks for their wins at a ceremony held at the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, R.I. Sailing-yacht P2 is a luxurious superyacht, measuring 124’ 8,” built by Perini Navi in 2008; Meteor was launched in May 2007, built by Royal Huisman yard.
The regatta is open to yachts over 70’ LOA (length overall).