Next year is a Fastnet Race year, and the iconic event looks set to be more popular than ever as the organisers have announced that they will allow entries from bigger boats for the 2017 event. The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), has relaxed the limit of a maximum monohull length of 100ft (30.48m), enabling larger superyachts to take part.
The biennial event is the world's biggest offshore race and the last edition attracted a record-sized fleet of 356 starters. The 47th race is expected to be no different, with a diverse fleet of yachts from around the world eager to secure a spot when the online entry system opens at midday (UTC) on January 9, 2017. Such is the draw of this classic 600-mile race that it was oversubscribed in under 24 minutes last time round. This year it's likely to sell out even faster.
Following interest from a number of superyacht owners and skippers wishing to take part in this classic offshore race, the RORC Race Committee has elected to lift the 100ft (30.48m) monohull limit opening the race up to the new breed of fast and agile cruiser/racer designs such as Peter Harrison's beautiful Farr designed ketch Sojana, the new Swan 115s and Baltic 115s, to name but a few. These yachts are regularly seen on the superyacht race circuit and have always been eligible to race in another RORC classic 600-miler, the annual RORC Caribbean 600 from Antigua.
In the last Rolex Fastnet Race (see A year in images: best boating photos of 2015) there were two monohulls at this upper limit of 100ft: Mike Slade's British Farr 100, Leopard and from the United States, Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark's Maxi Comanche. The 100ft Comanche was the fastest monohull finisher in 2015, but narrowly missed the chance to break Ian Walker's VO70's 2011 monohull race record of 42 hours 39 minutes.
The 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race will start on August 6, 2017, straight after Cowes Week. See a video of the 2015 event below.