Marine

Countdown to Fastnet Ocean race start

Countdown to Fastnet Ocean rac...
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Aerial picture of the start of the 2003 Rolex Fastnet Race Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
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Aerial picture of the start of the 2003 Rolex Fastnet Race Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
Nick Hewson‘ s Volvo For Life approaches Fastnet Rock at dawn Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
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Nick Hewson‘ s Volvo For Life approaches Fastnet Rock at dawn Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
Nokia - overall IRC winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2003 Photo by: Daniel Forster/ Rolex
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Nokia - overall IRC winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2003 Photo by: Daniel Forster/ Rolex
Alfa Romeo - first boat round the Fastnet Rock in 2003 Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
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Alfa Romeo - first boat round the Fastnet Rock in 2003 Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
Mike Slade's Leopard off the Needles - 2003 Rolex Fastnet Race Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
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Mike Slade's Leopard off the Needles - 2003 Rolex Fastnet Race Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
Racing down The Solent - 2003 Rolex Fastnet Race Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
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Racing down The Solent - 2003 Rolex Fastnet Race Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
Robert McNeil‘ s Zephyrus V rounds Fastnet Rock during the 2003 eventPhoto by: Daniel Forster/ Rolex
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Robert McNeil‘ s Zephyrus V rounds Fastnet Rock during the 2003 eventPhoto by: Daniel Forster/ Rolex
Alfa Romeo, line honours winner, at the finish of the 2003 Rolex Fastnet Race Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
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Alfa Romeo, line honours winner, at the finish of the 2003 Rolex Fastnet Race Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
Fireworks over the finish line in Plymouth Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
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Fireworks over the finish line in Plymouth Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex
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August 7, 2005 Final preparations are underway in Cowes for the start of one of ocean racing’s elite events – the Rolex Fastnet Race - on Sunday morning. The start is one of sport’s greatest spectacles with 230 yachts amassed prior to tackling the treacherous 608-mile course from Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, out the Solent and across the often tempestuous Celtic Sea, around the Fastnet Rock off the SW Irish coast and back to Plymouth. First sailed in 1925, and run biennially since the early 1930s, the Fastnet race immediately captured the imagination of sailors the world over. It was one of the first true tests of offshore sailing skill – to win this race is an ambition of every racing sailor.

Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) the Fastnet tests inshore and offshore skills, preparation and speed potential. It has been the prime mover in the growth of offshore racing over the past 75 years, and is still intricately linked to advances in sail boat design, sailing techniques, safety equipment – and hence to the popularity of the modern sport of sailing.

It means different things to the more than 2000 different people who will be on board the fleet this year. For some it is a once-in-a-life-time personal challenge to see if the human side can be dealt with, for others it is part of a much bigger picture, part of a lifetime of sailing, but never just another race. It is not undertaken lightly by anyone and each boat and crew must fulfill a strict qualification regime before its entry is accepted.

Above all the Rolex Fastnet Race is a challenge of seamanship in taking a suitably equipped sailing boat across what have often proved to be some of the most treacherous waters in the world.

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