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Women sailors take on the challenge of the Rolex FastNet Race

The Rolex Fastnet Race is the world’s largest offshore race and sets sail from Cowes on Sunday 11th August.

This year’s Rolex Fastnet Race will see a number of women sailors taking part, when the world’s largest offshore race sets sail from Cowes on Sunday 11th August.

With the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s flagship event breaking new records in terms of the size of its fleet, this biennial race from Cowes to the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland and back around the Isles of Scilly to Plymouth, has attracted several well known women to take part.

Spindrift 2 largest boat The largest boat on the start line will be the 40m trimaran Spindrift 2, which as Maxi Banque Populaire in 2011 completed the course in just 32 hours 48 minutes. Since the last race, this, the fastest offshore boat in the world, has been sold to the Franco-Swiss Spindrift racing team. Her new co-skippers are Yann Guichard and Dona Bertarelli, whose brother Ernesto Bertarelli has been involved with the America’s Cup with his Alinghi team.

Spindrift 2 is obviously gunning to beat the existing record but putting up a challenge will be Vendee Globe competitor, Dee Caffari on Oman Air-Musandam.

Seventh Fastnet for Dee Caffari For Dee this will be her seventh Fastnet, her first having been as skipper of Group 4 in 2001. In 2007, her IMOCA 60 Aviva had to pull out with a ripped mainsail and a very sick Olympic gold medallist Matthew Pinsent on board, while last time she was on Steve Ravussin’s MOD70, Race for Water.

Dee, who this year joins Sidney Gavignet’s team on Oman Air-Musandam said,

“I’d never done the race that quick before in my life, so I am really delighted I’m back on a MOD70,”

Omani sailor Raya Al Habsi As part of Oman Sail’s efforts to develop women’s sailing in the sultanate, Omani sailor Raya Al Habsi will also be competing on board. She has previously competed in Sailing Arabia – The Tour in 2012 and 2013.

As to their prospects this year Oman Air-Musandam will be up against another MOD70 in the Seb Josse-skippered Edmond de Rothschild. Dee remembers two years ago when her crew match- raced another MOD70 Veolia Environnement for the entire race. “I am really looking forward to being back in that intensity again” she said.

Overseas boats Of the 350+ boats competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race this year one third of the fleet, 119 boats are from overseas.

The boat having travelled furthest is Geoff Boettcher’s Secret Men’s Business 3.5, from Adelaide in South Australia. 3.5 refers to how the boat’s original hull was chopped away from the deck, and somehow replaced with an upgraded design four foot longer, now up to 51ft.

This dramatic modification worked, for in 2010 she won the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Secret Men’s Business 3.5 rates well under IRC and is expected to be a strong contender for the overall IRC prize.

Looking for a hat-trick Looking for Rolex Fastnet Race honours will be Bella Mente, Hap Fauth’s Mini Maxi which will be trying to beat Rán 2.

Niklas Zennström’s team on Rán 2 will attempt to become the first to ever win the Rolex Fastnet Race three times in a row: Bella Mente is a newer generation Judel-Vrolijk design and beat Rán 2 to the Mini Maxi World title last year so this will make for some very interesting racing.

On the 11th August there will be a succession of starts for the various classes, with the full starting sequence taking two hours.

Image: © Mark Lloyd/www.lloydimages.com

This Article was reprinted fromOn The Wight

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Women sailors take on the challenge of the Rolex FastNet Race