50TH ROLEX FASTNET: WHO’S GOING FOR GOLD AT THE GOLDEN JUBILEE OF THE OFFSHORE CLASSIC?
Of all the great offshore races, the Rolex Fastnet Race has a unique place in every sailor’s imagination. And as we approach the 50th edition of the world’s largest offshore contest, this one promises to be extra special, with a diverse fleet of around 500 yachts readying themselves to vie for gold in this jubilee race of epic proportions.
Looking back at memorable performances and icons rounding the legendary Fastnet Rock in years gone by is enough to get anyone’s blood racing, and Southern Spars is proud to have had a place on many of the victorious yachts since we built our first carbon spar back in 1990.
Since then, our composite technology has undergone significant advancements. However, our mission remains unchanged – we continuously innovate to propel our customers to unprecedented levels of performance, striving to facilitate their visions and empower them to accomplish their goals.
But, of course, they can’t all win. So, let’s take a look at a few of the front runners for the 50th Fastnet harnessing Southern Spars in their quest for gold…
Lucky (formerly Rambler 88)
Having left an indelible mark on the Fastnet under its former name, the 27m Canting Keel now re-christened as ‘Lucky’ and under the ownership of Bryon Ehrhart, crossed the line first in both 2017 and 2019. Also holding the current race record for fastest monohull without a moveable ballast, Lucky is odds on favourite to take line honours again in 2023, and if she’s true to her new name, given the right conditions, could even do the double and win Overall, with an outside chance of setting a new monohull race record to boot!
Notorious (formerly Caol Ila R)
Having sailed his first Rolex Fastnet in 1973, it would be incredibly fitting for Notorious owner Peter Morton to walk away with glory in the 50th edition, exactly 50 years on. If a Notorious win came to pass, the coincidences wouldn’t stop there – Peter won the Fastnet 30 years ago on Indulgence, and again 10 years ago on Enigma, and he’ll be 70 years of age when the starting gun sounds – could it be set up any better?
Another re-christened champion hull, the Maxi 72 is fitted with carbon rig technology from Southern Spars, paired with one of the most advanced rigging packages available from our sister company Future Fibres. Combining the world’s most popular offshore composite rigging, ECsix, with AEROrazr – the cutting-edge aerofoil-shaped solid rigging used by the AC75s of the America’s Cup, the set up will boast the unwavering durability of multistrand cables, combined with extreme aero benefits in the right places. In typical Peter Morton style, Caol Ila R has been plucked from obscurity and driven into the limelight with performance upgrades worthy of Fastnet gold.
Another team with glorious Fastnet memories, Niklas Zennström and Rán have tasted Overall victory twice before, with JV72 Rán 2 coming up trumps in 2009 & 2011. The 8th carnation of Rán is a CF 520, featuring a radical hull design, electric propulsion, an up-rated water ballast system and the latest rig and sailing hardware from Southern Spars and Harken. The 52-foot Carkeek design, built by Fibre Mechanics, drives innovation to the extreme. Unshackled by class rules, she’s lighter, more stable, has more sail area, a more powerful hull, and a taller mast, when compared to a TP52.
If the goal was to produce the highest performing 52-footer around, Shaun Carkeek has come close, if he hasn’t hit the nail on the head. Rán is set up for ultimate offshore speed. Her composite rig and rigging package from Southern Spars and Future Fibres breaks the mould, with the perfect combination of clarity of vision and creative freedom coming from our collaborators at Carkeek, we were able to design a bespoke concept rig, with the latest design innovation from the minds at Southern Spars. This is paired with ECsix multistrand rigging from Future Fibres – for guaranteed speed and unshakable reliability in all conditions. To cap off the combined innovation from within our group of companies, Rán’s rig stiffness was optimised to work perfectly with Helix structured luff sail technology from our partners at North Sails. With all this performance power in the hands of skipper and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Tim Powell, Rán looks a good bet!
Another high-performance 52-footer, Caro was launched in 2021 with the goal of winning offshore classics around the world. The 50th Fastnet would, no doubt, be near the top of that list. Max Klink’s Botin 52 will offer stiff competition for Rán in IRC Zero and could be right up there in the Overall standings.
The Botin 52 was engineered close to home for the team at Southern Spars. The Auckland collaboration between Core Builders Composites and Southern Spars producing a fantastic final product and a yacht that has impressed on the offshore circuit in the two years since. Caro is another example of a yacht which harnesses a combination of rigging products from Future Fibres – AEROsix laterals and ECsix forestays and backstays. Future Fibres’ breakthrough hybrid rigging product, AEROsix is composed of a solid carbon plate bonded within bundles of multistrand carbon rods – fusing the reliability and strength of multistrand cables with the performance attributes of solid carbon.
With every edition of this legendary race, new levels of innovation, performance and sheer entertainment come to the fore. The 50th Fastnet promises to be an unforgettable spectacle, and with plenty more Southern Spars-rigged yachts vying for gold, we wish every entry fair winds and following seas!
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