Please select your home edition
Edition
MS Amlin 2019 - 728x90
Product Feature
NeilPryde Sailing Womens Elite Firewire 3mm Long John
NeilPryde Sailing Womens Elite Firewire 3mm Long John

Dry run the new Rolex Fastnet Race course with Virtual Regatta

by Trish Jenkins 27 Jul 16:35 BST 3 August 2020
Rolex Fastnet Race course with Virtual Regatta © Virtual Regatta

Just over a year out from the August 2021 start of the race proper, potential competitors, armchair sailors and gamer enthusiasts from all over the world will have the opportunity to try their hand at competing on the new course for the Rolex Fastnet Race, in the online game created by Virtual Regatta.

The first part of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's premier offshore event remains the same - leaving Cowes, heading west down the English Channel, passing Land's End and crossing the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland, before returning to the Channel, leaving Bishop Rock to port. But, for its next edition, the finish has moved to Cherbourg at the top of the Cotentin Peninsula, some 70 miles due south of Cowes. This change to the world's most popular offshore race increases its distance to 695nm.

Following the new course, Virtual Regatta's Rolex Fastnet Race will set sail at 1200 UTC on 3 August 2020. It will provide players with the opportunity to compete against friends, family, colleagues or fellow sailing enthusiasts in a race based on real weather data aboard their own Class40. The game is free to play, but the more competitive can pay a small fee to upgrade their equipment. While the 'real' Rolex Fastnet Race is the world's most well subscribed offshore race with more than 350 entries expected on the start line in 2021, ranging from 100ft Ultime maxi trimarans to mums and dads on their 30ft family cruisers, the Virtual Regatta fleet will dwarf this, their offshore events regularly seeing more than 30,000 entries.

Among the virtual competitors this year will be two-time Volvo Ocean Race winner Phil Harmer. The Australian was part of Ian Walker's crew that set the present monohull Rolex Fastnet Race course record aboard the VO70 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in 2011. Despite his vast offshore experience and having competed in at least six Rolex Fastnet Races, Harmer is new to Virtual Regatta offshore events. "When lockdown started I downloaded the app and played a few dinghy races, but I haven't done any offshores. There's nothing like a Fastnet for a baptism of fire! It will be fun to do. It will keep me busy."

Harmer will be competing from his base in Sydney where his night shift will be made easier as he will be up in any case tending his newborn child. He is looking forward to going to Cherbourg. "Sometimes things just need a little change to get people interested in doing it again."

Former RORC Commodore and Admiral Andrew McIrvine intends to race his new La Réponse, a Ker 39, in next year's Rolex Fastnet Race. He advises that the Virtual Regatta race will provide a good opportunity to walk the course: "This course will be a new challenge for all of us - even those who have done more than enough Fastnets! It will be good to try it out 'virtually'. A number of friends and I have been having fun doing VR races during lockdown. Planning the weather routing is remarkably realistic and educational - highly recommended for budding navigators!"

Also on the virtual Rolex Fastnet Race start line will be Sonar world champion Hannah Stodel, who has her sights set on competing in the new mixed doublehanded offshore class for the Paris 2024 Olympics. "I've done a couple of Virtual Regatta races for fun, but nothing like the Fastnet," she says. The virtual Rolex Fastnet Race will have the benefit that it will be sailed in Class40s, the class in which Stodel had been hoping to compete this season. She is looking to do the virtual race with some of her crew who sailed the real Rolex Fastnet Race previously. "They are quite excited about it and there's even talk of a watch system. Anything that gets you looking at weather data and making strategic decisions is good practice, even if it is on the computer. It'll be a learning experience."

The virtual Rolex Fastnet Race can be played on a computer at virtualregatta.com and on a smart phone via the Virtual Regatta Offshore App available for download from the Apple Store / Google Play Store. Those wishing to play must register with Virtual Regatta.

More information at rorc.org

Related Articles

One year to go to 49th Rolex Fastnet Race
A new era will begin as Cherbourg hosts the finish line Rolex Fastnet Race will set sail from Cowes bound for the Fastnet Rock as usual, but then, once the boats have rounded Bishop Rock, they will, for the first time in the history, point their bows towards Cherbourg, the new finish for RORC's premier event. Posted on 6 Aug
Rolex Fastnet Race to finish in Cherbourg
We speak to Eddie Warden Owen Mark Jardine, Managing Editor of Sail-World.com and YachtsandYachting.com, caught up with RORC Chief Executive Eddie Warden Owen to find out more about Cherbourg becoming the finish destination of the Rolex Fastnet Race in 2021 and 2023. Posted on 26 Nov 2019
Rolex Fastnet Race 2020 will finish in Cherbourg
Major change for preeminent offshore race The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), organisers of the Rolex Fastnet Race, announced at a press conference today that the City of Cherbourg will host the finish of the Rolex Fastnet Race for the 2021 and 2023 editions of the biennial race. Posted on 26 Nov 2019
Pip Hare defies the odds in Fastnet Race
20-year-old boat should have been towards the back, not leading On paper, Poole-based round-the-world sailor Pip Hare's 20-year-old boat should have been towards the back of her class, but instead she led the westbound charge from Start Point to the Scillies. Posted on 15 Aug 2019
Bomby & Diamond clinch podium Fastnet position
Campaigning the new Sun Fast 3300 from Jeanneau With the completion of the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race and podium positions decided, the mixed double handed crew of Henry Bomby and Hannah Diamond received the confirmation of their IRC 3A win along with first mixed doublehanded crew. Posted on 15 Aug 2019
Rolex Fastnet Race family dynasty
Watch Hattie Rogers' video from onboard Assent Watch Hattie Rogers' fantastic video from Assent in the Rolex Fastnet Race - the smallest boat in the fleet. Sailing with her father Simon, uncle Kit and cousin Jonah, the are aboard their 'museum piece' 1972 Contessa 32. Posted on 12 Aug 2019
2019 Rolex Fastnet Race finish by Nic Douglass
All of the Fastnet adventures For the first time in my life I am now in Cowes for Cowes Week after the finishes of the Rolex Fastnet Race in Plymouth, and according to those much more "experienced" than myself, this is definitely an anomaly. Posted on 10 Aug 2019
2019 Rolex Fastnet Race overall
Burnishing the legend The Rolex Fastnet Race is one of sailing's ultimate challenges: a racecourse that has achieved mythic status, a turning mark that is a true icon in sport and a near 100-years of history and tradition. Posted on 9 Aug 2019
US Rolex Fastnet Race winner
Breaking the French winning streak An American VO70 has continued its phenomenal winning streak to claim the Fastnet Challenge Cup, the overall prize for the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race. Posted on 7 Aug 2019
2019 Rolex Fastnet Race day 5
Léon surfs to victory in IRC Three One hundred and seventy one teams in the Rolex Fastnet Race were taking part in IRC Three and IRC Four, close to half of the record-breaking fleet. For these smaller/slower boats endurance is key as they spend four days or more days at sea. Posted on 7 Aug 2019