Phenomenal line-up

We preview the form for this Sunday's Rolex Fastnet Race
The Rolex Fastnet Race sets sail from Cowes this Sunday, 12 August with the first start gun off the Squadron line earlier than normal, at 1000. The 608 nautical mile biennial race to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock will see 300 yachts competing - the largest entry since 1979 and RORC deserve a big pat on the back for attracting such a large and diverse fleet. With this line-up the race is now the world's premier medium distance offshore race and the club actually been running a waiting list for those in addition to the initial 300. Bear in mind that the race's nearest rival, the Rolex Sydney Hobart, only had 78 entries last year. The clash of the titans will be the showdown between Neville Crichton's 100ft CBTF Reichel-Pugh designed maxi Alfa Romeo and Mike Slade's new Farr-designed equivalent ICAP Leopard. Following yesterday's race around the Isle of Wight, the much campaigned Alfa would appear to have the upper hand, but if it blows then Leopard will certainly be in with a shout. Both boats are bristling with AC and Volvo stars. It will be interesting to see the supermaxis fare against the remnants of the ORMA 60ft trimaran fleet. Only four of these French speedsters will be taking the start line and favourite will be, as ever, Franck Cammas in his Groupama II, although he will face Route du Rhum winner Lionel Lemonchois on board Gitana XI. The most impressive fleet by far will be the Open 60s where 16 boats are due to complete ( Roxy has had to withdraw due to Sam Davies' appendectomy and the new Pindar, don't talk to us about Pindar...). This will feature three and a half new boats, the half being Roland Jourdain's heavily breathed-upon Sill which has only recently emerged from the