Largest fleet for the 90 year old FASTNET

90 years ago a group of cruisers set out to sail the 608 nautical mile course that took them from Cowes, around the Fastnet rock and the Sicily Isles to finally finish in Plymouth. The Le Havre pilot cutter Jolie Brise won the first edition in 1925 and although she is not racing this year there are other well recognised classics out to make history once again.


Much has been seen in the press about the 1930 Sparkman & Stephens yawl Dorade, now at the end of her pilgrimage to her racing history. Having won the Transpac in 2013, 77 years after she first won the event, people have stopped pointing the finger and realised that this beautifully narrow-beamed design is an actual threat and could do very well with the light winds forecast. But she is not the only classic posing a threat. The 1935 Fastnet winner, Stormy Weather is a fellow S&S yawl for which the talented designer John Alden said “a better design would be impossible to achieve!” She has faced Dorade many times in the Mediterranean classic circuit and favours the stronger breeze which is likely to arrive with the fleet on tuesday or wednesday.

Two other S&S yawls will be present. Welsh comedian Griff Rhys Jones’ Argyll won the Newport-Bermuda race in 1950 and after coming second in the Panerai Transat at the beginning of this year they are one to watch. And then there is the “dark horse”, the Swedish 1955 S&S Refanut, owned by the Wallenberg family (shares in Atlas Copco, SKF, Ericsson, SEB Bank, ABB etc).  The co-skippers are  Fredrik Wallenberg and Gustaf Dyrssen who have won several double handed races in the Baltic leaving many modern yachts far behind. “I know Fredrik has his mind set on winning over Dorade and Stormy Weather”, Olle Appelberg writes.

There is one more yawl worth a mention. Infanta is a Philip Rhodes design from 1947 and very much a local to the English southern coast. In the recent British Classic Week she was often tussling with the S&S yawls at times coming out on top.


4 S&S yawls, 1 Rhodes yawl, little wind but building later…… and 372 entries, the largest ever seen. The chandleries around the Solent are making a killing selling anchor line to avoid going backwards with strong currents and no wind. Which ever way you look at it this is going to be a CLASSIC!

We’ll keep the reports coming in on our Facebook page and you can follow the race with the online tracker.


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