Sign-ups for the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s flagship event, the Rolex Fastnet Race, set a new record with 340 boats signing up in just four minutes and 24 seconds. Within the first minute of the REMUS online entry system opening at midday on Jan. 9, the London and Cowes-based organizing club had received 222 entries.
The biennial 603-mile race was first run in 1925. The offshore race, from Southern England around Ireland’s Fastnet Rock and back, is known for its high-profile character. In 1979, a force-10 storm hit the race and the 306-boat fleet suffered 18 sailor fatalities. Safety gear improvements stemming from that weather event have resulted in safer ocean races everywhere.
As race organizers said in a press release: “Nick Elliott, RORC Racing, explains his reaction to the phenomenal demand to enter this historic race: ‘The take-up of entries for the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race has been incredible. We expected to better the time it took to reach the limit in the last race of 24 minutes, but this is amazing.
“‘Seven boats raced in the first race in 1925 and the founding members of the RORC and its flagship event would have been in awe of their creation with 340 boats signing up so quickly today. With all this interest, we expect a record-sized fleet to start from the Royal Yacht Squadron line, making the Rolex Fastnet Race by far the largest of the world’s classic 600-mile offshore races in terms of participation,” continued Elliott.
“The First 40 Lancelot II was the first boat to enter the race, signing up just 12 seconds after the online entry system opened. The next four boats entered shortly after: Arthur Logic, Pelgrim, Jolly Jack Tar and Moana. Entries from 28 different nations have signed up and include Great Britain, France, Netherlands, Germany and USA, with an entry from Korea as well as from Australia and New Zealand. The race will have boats in IRC or selected offshore classes such as IMOCA60, VOR65, Class40 and MOCRA Multihull.”