The below is taken from Seahorse Magazine this week.
Rolex Fastnet Race's most complete pantheon of offshore race boats .
The most impressive collection of offshore racing hardware from across the globe is set to gather off Cowes for the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race on 3 August.Following the 340 available places in the IRC fleet selling out in just four minutes and 37 seconds when entry opened on 7th January, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, organisers of this, the world's largest offshore yacht race, has provided a sneak preview of the 2019 line-up.
While the bulk of the fleet remains the IRC entries, competing for both their class titles as well as the overall Fastnet Challenge Cup, 2019 will see an unprecedented entry of 'non-IRC' boats, the majority from France. Entered at present are 25 Class40s (plus two more in the IRC fleet). There are also set to be a handful of Ultimes. At 100ft long, these maxi trimarans are the world's largest and fastest offshore race boats. The present race record for the Rolex Fastnet Race was set in 2011 by the 130ft trimaran Banque Populaire V, skippered by Loïck Peyron, in a time of 32 hours 48 minutes at an average speed of 18.5 knots. While shorter, any of the new generation Ultimes is capable of bettering this time.
Most staggering are the number of IMOCA 60s entered - 27 of them, making this one of the largest gatherings of these thoroughbred ocean racers outside of the race for which they are principally built - the Vendée Globe singlehanded non-stop round the world race. IMOCA 60s have been in the news in recent months as they are one of the classes set to be used for the next running of The Ocean Race (ex-Volvo Ocean Race) over 2021-22. The Rolex Fastnet Race line-up includes an unusually large number of British female skippers taking part, among them Initiatives Coeur's Sam Davies and former Mini and Class40 sailor Pip Hare.
In sheer numbers the IRC fleet should once again be huge. At present the maximum entries has been comfortably exceeded although the exact number making it to the start will fluctuate due to circumstances, not least the requirement to comply with the RORC's race qualification requirements.