|Finish||Plymouth (1925 - 2019)|
Cherbourg (2021 - )
|Champion||Lann Ael 2|
Concise 10 (line honours)
The Fastnet Race is a biennial offshore yacht race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club of the United Kingdom with the assistance of the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes and the Royal Western Yacht Club in Plymouth.
The race is named after the Fastnet Rock, which the race course rounds. The race is considered one of the classic big offshore races, 'Fastnet' is testing both inshore and offshore skills, boat and crew preparation and speed potential. From its inception, the Fastnet Race has proven highly influential in the growth of offshore racing, and remains closely linked to advances in yacht design, sailing technique and safety equipment.
The race main focus is on monohull handicap racing which presently is conducted under the Royal Ocean Racing Club own IRC Rating Rule and it is this that is awarded the overall trophy. However the race has more recently opened itself up allowing multihulls and providing one design class starts for the Volvo Ocean Race Class, IMOCA 60 and Class 40. It has also seen an increase in participation in two person
The race starts off the Royal Yacht Squadron start line of Cowes on the Isle of Wight on the south coast of England at the Royal Yacht Squadron. Leaving The Solent through The Needles Channel, the race follows the southern coastline of England westward down the English Channel, before rounding Land's End. After crossing the Celtic Sea, the race rounds the Fastnet Rock off the southwest coast of Ireland. Returning on a largely reciprocal course, the race rounds the Isles of Scilly before finishing at Cherbourg.
The finish was changed to Cherbourg from Plymouth in order to accommodate increased fleet sizes. Facilities at Plymouth were cited by organizers as one of the main reasons for the change. This was not universally accepted due to the nearly 100 year heritage of the course and race. This change also increases the course distance to over 700 nautical miles (1,300 km).
1925 to 2019 Course
The Fastnet Race takes place every two years over a course of 608 nautical miles (1,126 km). The race starts off Cowes on the Isle of Wight on the south coast of England at the Royal Yacht Squadron. Leaving The Solent through The Needles Channel, the race follows the southern coastline of England westward down the English Channel, before rounding Land's End. After crossing the Celtic Sea, the race rounds the Fastnet Rock off the southwest coast of Ireland. Returning on a largely reciprocal course, the race rounds the Isles of Scilly before finishing at Plymouth.
The Fastnet is a challenging race. Taking place in August, the race is often provided with Westerlies that are strong to gale force in strength. The succession of low pressure systems which advance on Ireland and Britain across the North Atlantic Ocean provide a constantly moving weather pattern for which Fastnet navigators must plan. These depressions are mostly centered north of the English Channel. Knowledge of where meteorological disturbances are likely to occur, and how best to use them, is the keynote to success in the race.
1979 Fastnet Race
A severe storm during the 1979 race resulted in the deaths of nineteen people (fifteen competing yachtsmen and four rescuers) and the involvement of some 4,000 others in what became the largest ever rescue operation in peacetime. This led to a major overhaul of the rules and the equipment required for the competition. Several books have since been written about the 1979 race, which remains notorious in the yachting world for its loss of life. In the 1979 race, "15 sailors died, five boats sank, and at least 75 boats flipped upside down".
Capsize of Drum (1985)
The race drew further attention from outside the sport in 1985 when the maxi yacht Drum capsized after the keel sheared off due to a design error. The boat was helmed by the New Zealander Phil Holland, brother of its designer Ron Holland. Pop star Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran, co-owner and crew member of Drum, was trapped under the hull with five other crew members for twenty minutes, until being rescued by the Royal Navy. The Search and Rescue Diver was Petty Officer Air Crewman (POACMN) Larry "Scouse" Slater of 771 Naval Air Squadron who appeared on This Is Your Life on 9 April 1986.
2007 Fastnet Race
The RORC in 2007 set an entry limit of 300 boats for the first time. The start of the 2007 Race was postponed by 25 hours, due to a severe weather warning. This was the first time this had been done in the race's 83-year history. Overnight gale force winds and resulting extreme seas forced over three-quarters of the boats to retire, sheltering in ports along the south coast of England, including Torbay, Plymouth and Weymouth.
Despite the conditions, Mike Slade's Icap Leopard 3, launched in June 2007, set a new record of 44 hours 18 min, taking almost 9 hours off the previous record set in 1999. Ger O'Rourke's Chieftain was the overall winner on corrected time.
2011 Fastnet Race
A record number of 320 boats entered the 2011 race – the largest total since the ill-fated 1979 race (303 entries). A total of nineteen nations were represented, with the bulk of entries still from Britain and France.
In 2011, the 100-foot maxi yacht Rambler 100 turtled after her keel broke off between Fastnet Rock and the Pantaenius Buoy (a temporary race mark placed southwest of the Fastnet Rock). All 21 crew were rescued safely. Sixteen were rescued from the upturned hull, by the RNLI Baltimore Lifeboat Hilda Jarrett. A further 5 crewmembers, including the owner/skipper George David, had floated away from the vessel, but managed to link themselves together. They were in the water for approximately 2.5 hours, before being rescued by a Baltimore based diving vessel, Wave Chieftain. One of these crewmembers, Wendy Touton, suffered hypothermia and was taken by helicopter to Tralee General Hospital. Four crew-members had been below decks at the time of capsize and were not adequately dressed for egress into the sea. All uninjured crew were taken to Baltimore. The Naval Service patrol ship LÉ Aoife remained with the hull, worth $10,000,000 before the capsize, before it was towed to Barleycove by the Castletownbere-based tug Ocean Bank.
The Fastnet Monohull Race record was set at 42hrs 39min by Volvo Open 70 "Abu Dhabi", skippered by Ian Walker.
2013 Fastnet Race
Plymouth Yacht Haven was selected as host port RORC Increased the number of entries to meet demands. With the entry limit of 300 filled within 24 hours, over 100 boats on the waiting list and entries from multihulls, IMOCA 60s and Class 40s still coming in, demand for places in 2013's Fastnet Race has been at its highest level thus far.
Winners (the following results are to be considered provisional): IRC Overall: Night And Day, a JPK 10.10 owned by Pascal Loison; MOCRA Multihull: Oman Air - Musandam, a MOD 70 owned by Sidney Gavignet.
2015 Fastnet Race
The 340-boat registration limit was reached in 4 minutes and 24 seconds setting a new record.
IRC Overall: Courrier Du Leon, a JPK 10.10 owned by Géry Trentesaux.
MOCRA Multihull: Spindrift 2 a VPLP owned by Yann Guichard & Dona Bertarelli.
Line Honours: 2 Days 15 Hours 42 Minutes - Comanche - VPLP/Verdier 100 Super Maxi Owned by Jim & Kristy Hinze Clark, Skippered by Ken Read
2017 Fastnet Race
The 2017 Fastnet Race started on 6 August 2017 and featured all 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race Teams. Yachts longer than 100 feet were also be allowed to race.
IRC Overall: Lann Ael 2, a JNA 39 owned by Didier Gaudoux.
MOCRA Multihull: Concise 10 a MOD 70 owned by Tony Lawson.
Line Honours: 1 Day 18 hours and 55 minutes - Concise 10 - MOD 70 owned by Tony Lawson, Skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield.
2019 Fastnet Race
The 2019 Fastnet Race started on 3 August 2019. For the first time, boats not following the IRC standard were allowed to enter the competition. All entries were filled within four minutes and 37 seconds when entry opened on 7 January.
Skipper Franck Cammas took Multihull line honours, despite running aground within the first few hours. This was the first sub-30 hour run, beating Loick Peyron and the crew of Banque Populaire’s 2011 time by 4h 45m. The Macif of Francois Gabbart lost the line honours by only 58 seconds, having led just minutes in prior. In third place, was the Sodebo Ultim 3 of Thomas Coville. 
2021 Fastnet Race
- Monohull vessels
The monohull race record is 42hrs 39min, set by Ian Walker's Volvo Open 70 Abu Dhabi (UAE) in 2011. The other two Volvo Open 70 participating in the 2011 Fastnet Race (Groupama 4 and Team Sanya) also broke the previous record, which had been set by ICAP Leopard in 2007.
- Multihull vessels
The multihull race record is currently 28h 2m 26s by Maxi Edmond de Rotschild. Skipper Franck Cammas took Multihull line honours on August 4, 2019, despite running aground within the first few hours. This was the first sub-30 hour run, beating Loick Peyron and the crew of Banque Populaire’s 2011 time by 4h 45m. The Macif of Francois Gabbart lost the line honours by only 58 seconds, having led just minutes in prior. 
- Course record
The course record was broken by Powerplay, a MOD 70 skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield, on April 7, 2021. The run was not a part of the official race, but followed the same course from Cowes, around Fastnet Rock, and back south to the Plymouth Breakwater. The eight-man crew finished the race in 25hrs, 4mins and 18secs, weathering through gale-force winds and hitting boat speeds in excess of 40 knots.
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- Rousmaniere, John (January 2000). "Revisiting Lessons from the Fastnet". SailNet.com. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
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- "Fastnet 79: The Disaster that Changed Sailing (Eye witness accounts)". Yachting World. Archived from the original on 23 December 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
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- RORC. "100 foot limit relaxed for 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race | News 2015". Rolex Fastnet Race Website. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
- "Results 2017". Rolex Fastnet Race Website. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
- "ROLEX Fastnet Race 2019 - Change of Date". Retrieved 9 July 2019.
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- "Sailing Results". www.rolexfastnetrace.com. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
- World, Yachting (7 April 2021). "New Fastnet record: MOD70 PowerPlay sets new fastest time". Yachting World. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
- Rolex Fastnet Race Homepage
- Royal Ocean Racing Club – organising club for the Fastnet Race
- BBC World Service programme, 25 August 2010 – Matthew Sheehan, a sailor in the ill-fated 1979 Race talks to BBC Witness about his experiences and the drowning of his father
- "Night of the Long Grinds" – BBC Sport, Rob Hodgett's Blog, 14 August 2009
- "The Story Of The First Three Fastnet Races"