Yachts are pouring into Cowes for Skandia Week, which starts on Saturday 4 August, where they will be joined by the fleet completing the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Channel Race, which starts on Friday evening.
Over 200 Entries!. The latest entry total is 244 yachts from 19 countries will line up off the Royal Yacht Squadron at 16.00 on Sunday 12 August for the Rolex Fastnet Race.
The Fastnet Race, which began in 1925, is the prestige event in the international calendar of offshore racing and is now sponsored by Rolex. It is the grandfather of ocean classics, known throughout the world, and respected as a major test of yacht racing skill.
Staged every two years, its 608-mile course takes the yachts from Cowes around the Fastnet Rock and its lighthouse off the south-west coast of Ireland and back to the finish in Plymouth.
Records will be on everyone's mind, but every monohull, right down to the smallest, can win the Fastnet Challenge Cup and Rolex Chronometers after handicap allowances have been taken into account. In the IRM class, the Fastnet Rock Trophy will be awarded with a Rolex Chronometer. Many of the entries are from club competitors, achieving a lifetime ambition.
The fastest time for the race is held by Fujicolor II, a 60ft trimaran, that completed the course in 1 day, 16 hours and 27 minutes, with an average speed of 14.96 knots in the 1999 Fastnet race.
Chasing the honours will be three 90-footers, Mike Slade's Skandia Leopard, Giovanni Ignelli's Stealth and La Foiles des Grinders. Also in contention should be Hasso Plattner's Morning Glory and Ludde Ingvall's Nicorette and there is expected to be a quartet of Volvo Ocean 60s in their last major tune-up before the Volvo Ocean Race round the world starts on 23 September.
In addition there is a pair of the Open 60 yachts used in the Vendee Globe, Bernard Stamm's record breaking Bobst and Catherine Chabaud's Whirlpool, current holder of the Fastnet Challenge Cup and taking part in what she says will be her swan song in offshore racing.
There will also be a multihull class,including the 60-foot trimaran Eure et Loire, which earlier this year smashed the record in the Round the Island Race.