Sussex sailors gearing up for Fastnet challenge

West Sussex sailors will join 3,500 competitors in 380 boats from more than 20 countries in the world's largest offshore race - the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race.

Wednesday, 31st July 2013, 11:53 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:29 pm
Junior racers enjoying sailing action at Dell Quay Picture by Sam Schmulery

The legendary race sets sail from Cowes on Sunday, August 11, and will showcase the most diverse range of yachts imaginable - from 30ft to 130ft - and attracts everyone from aspiring sailors to professional crews who race all over the world.

Now in its 45th year, the race started with seven boats in 1925 and nowadays, sailors worldwide are drawn by the history and sporting lure of the greatest offshore contest.

The challenging 608-mile race - from Cowes to the Fastnet Rock off south-west Ireland and back around the Scilly Isles to Plymouth - is now by far the biggest of all the international 600-mile offshore races.

As well as attracting some of the fastest and largest record-breaking boats on the planet, 13 West Sussex boats and their crews will be on the start line.

They are Lisa, First 44.7, Chichester (Nicholas Jones); Inspire, Elan 410, Chichester (Mike Theobald/Russell Lake); Nokomis, Sigma 362, Chichester (Andy Theobald); Sleeper VIII, J/39, Hove (Jonty Layfield); Arcadian, Arcona 370, Hove (Simon Grigg); Run, First 35, Shoreham by Sea (David Mossman); Brightwork, Rogers 30, Worthing (Bernie Bingham); Comedy of Errors, HOD 35, Steyning (Tony White); Truant, HOD 35, Lancing (Stephen Thomas); Marta, Sigma 38, Selsey (Brian Skeet); Bombardier, Elan 333, Littlehampton (Terry Kinch); Bella of London, Grand Soleil 50, Haywards Heath (Mike Surridge); Echo Zulu, Carroll Marine Frers 45, Arundel (David Rider).


The current spell of hot sunny weather brought out several participants for the fifth race of the DQSC Evening handicap series.

The very light winds in the first half of the race made the going difficult but the wind increased to force two to three in the second half, allowing more competitive racing.

Bill Dawber (Solo), with his customary skill, took advantage of a wind shift at one of the racing marks which enabled him to significantly increase his lead to come in first.

The Solo fleet dominated the racing once again, with Richard Ede taking second place and Ranjit Verghese coming in third.

On Saturday, conditions for the fourth race in the Longmore series could not have been more different. With force five winds, gusting at times to force six, the competitors had to work hard to handle their boats and avoid capsizes.

So hard was it to handle boats in these challenging conditions that many racers, confused by some of the starting signals, crossed the start line too early and had to return.

Graham and Lucy Dalton in their 2000 dinghy made this mistake but managed to finish second overall, despite the restart. The very strong winds over tide provided some spectacular planing in the lower reaches of the harbour.

Chris Wood in his Streaker overtook Andrew Buchanan in his faster Laser to take first place, despite the handicap difference, leaving Buchanan to finish third.

The club’s junior racers held their fifth race of the junior series in what was probably the most challenging conditions so far this season for them.

However they all had fun out on the water.

Thomas Bettle, aged 12, said: “It was awesome!”. Dominic White, 17, added: “It was great fun.” 

The racers found the going really hard work and were so tired after the first race that it was decided to abandon race six of the series.

Thomas Bettle (Topper) took first place, followed by Phoebe Noble (Byte) in second and Dominic White (Topper) third.

The next race in the series is this Sunday.


A big turnout of 18 Solent Sunbeams took part in Cowes Classic Week this year to celebrate their 90th anniversary, including Bryony, newly restored, being chartered to some sailors from the Falmouth fleet. The race to Cowes was won by Melody, V36, helmed by John Ford, who is 82.

With a fabulous mixture of high-quality racing and a variety of social events each evening, the class had a friendly and competitive week in the sun.

Unfortunately the light winds led to daily delays but the Royal London YC, in their 175th year, were able to adapt. The special 175 Regatta race was won by Alchemy, a GRP hull, only launched this year.

The class hosted their own reception for all regatta participants.

Fleury, V41, helmed by Joe Burnie, won the whole week and won the Queen Victoria Jubilee Cup, plus a specially-commissioned painting and the overall classes prize. With boats in 12 classes and 25 different types, this was impressive.

If you want to find out more or wish to sail, see

Itchenor SC have begun their annual junior fortnight, which takes place this week and next, ending on August 9.

Now well-established as a jam-packed two-week racing and social event for anyone aged eight to 18, the fast-paced competitive racing twinned with a busy social programme make this the junior sailing and social event of the year.

More than 200 children are set to take part in this year’s event in more than 100 races across the two weeks.

Junior Fortnight is open to all Itchenor SC members who are part of the Mirror, Topper, Laser and International 420 classes.

Past Junior Fortnight sailors include Ed Fitzgerald, the current world youth 49er champion and an Olympic hopeful for the 2016 Games in Brazil.

For more information call 01243 512400, email [email protected] or visit