Rolex Fastnet Race deluge
Entry for one of the world’s most popular yacht races opened at midnight on Sunday 9 January and by midday Monday, nearly 100 entries had already signed up, with an unprecedented number doing so in the early hours of the morning. The trend continued over the next couple of days when the halfway mark of 150 boats was reached for the race which has a maximum entry of 300 boats. Within a week, 250 boats had entered!
“We expected an initial rush of interest because people were registering the details about their boat on our REMUS on-line entry system over Christmas,” commented the RORC Racing Manager Ian Loffhagen. “However nothing had prepared us for this unprecedented amount of interest in the race. We are obviously delighted at how popular the race has become with entries from all over the world.”
Officially the first boat to enter was Fred Mundle’s X-332 Mardy Gras, only 50 seconds after entry opened. Another notable early entry is Ondeck’s Farr 65 which will be chartered by the British Limbless Ex Service Men’s Association (BLESMA).
Of the high profile race boats entered, the two canting keel 100 footers ICAP Leopard and Rambler 100 will be the ones battling to take line honours in the Race. Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard and George David’s previous Rambler had a huge fight in the 2007 Rolex Fastnet Race, with Leopard taking the silverware. However, this year, George David has chartered the Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed Speedboat, re-named Rambler 100, which will put Mike Slade under a lot of pressure.
“The Rolex Fastnet is an iconic race,” said Slade. “We would not miss it for the world and we are pleased to see our American friend George David coming back with a new boat. It will make for a terribly exciting race.”
A number of Volvo Ocean Race teams are expected to be competing in the race aboard their new boats, although numbers have yet to firm up.
Also entered is the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race winner, Niklas Zennström’s Judel Vrolijk 72 Rán, hoping to make it two in a row, but he will have strong competition from RORC Caribbean 600 Race winner, Hong Kong’s Karl Kwok in his Farr 80, Beau Geste; 2009 Rolex Middle Sea Race winner, Andre Soriano in his Mills 68 Alegre, as well as a group of very competitive 52ft grand prix racers.
Leading this 50 footer pack is the 2010 Rolex Middle Sea Race winner, the TP52 Lucky, owned by Breyon Ehrhart from the USA and four boats from Germany who are making a serious attempt to win the race this year: Uwe Leben's RP57 Scho-Ka-Kola; the SKWB's JV53 Bank von Bremen and Haspa Hamburg and Norddeutsche Vermögen, both from the Hamburgischer Verein Seefahrt club.
There are 15 Class 40s entered so far and the next biggest classes are the Sigma 38 and First 40.7s, with 14 boats each and so far, 14 different countries will be represented in the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race.