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Fastnet 2021 finish in Cherbourg? Zoot alors! What must the RORC be thinking


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The last three Fastnet races i have done, we have bailed out of Plymouth as fast as possible,  if we have stopped at all. It is a shit place to finish a race that has 300 boats...and I grew up there.

So Fastnet is doing it's own Brexit 

As a boat based in Hamble, Cherbourg is closer to get back, ferry transport is far more reliable and probably cheaper than getting a train from Plymouth, the beer is probably better and who can’t resi

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5 hours ago, jack_sparrow said:

With Brexit UK is going to be a 3rd World country so finishing anywhere other than back home is a big plus. Very forward thinking of RO.

:lol:

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13 hours ago, P_Wop said:

There have to be palm trees at the finish port.

Le Grand Hotel in Cherbourg has palm trees upfront, it is at the old harbour.
As does the youth hostel. And old Nappy as Matagi shows.

Now only a One design class to find for you.

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14 minutes ago, LeoV said:

Now only a One design class to find for you.

Well based on previous Fastnets there is the choice of Class 40, IMOCA60 and Ultime, maybe a Multi 50 division next time?

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On 12/6/2019 at 5:42 AM, jack_sparrow said:

With Brexit UK is going to be a 3rd World country so finishing anywhere other than back home is a big plus. Very forward thinking of RO.

Heard on the grapevine that a 100M turnover company that was based in the UK and now moved to France is going to put in a huge sponsorship package to have the finish held in Cherbourg, just to piss the Brits off.

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On 12/6/2019 at 4:42 PM, jack_sparrow said:

With Brexit UK is going to be a 3rd World country so finishing anywhere other than back home is a big plus. Very forward thinking of RO.

The problem for France will be the British sailors asking for Asylum at the end of the race :)

 

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Heavy winds at Fastnet rock last night. But no world record.

995097169_FastnedLighthouse.jpg.968b4cf0b60a8afad0a84e2d7ea87e28.jpg
On 16 October 2017, a wind gust of 191 kilometres per hour (119 mph) was recorded at the lighthouse, during a tropical storm, the recently downgraded Hurricane Ophelia. This is an Irish record, based on measurements going back to the 1860s. The previous record was 181 kilometres per hour (112 mph) at Malin Head during Hurricane Debbie in 1961.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fastnet_Rock

Another astonishing record in the same wiki site is a rogue wave of 48 metres high.

In 1985, the lighthouse was struck by a 
rogue wave about 157 feet (48 m) high.[4]
 

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  • 1 month later...

Rumours that the Fasnet may be held this year from the Solent to Plymouth via the rock and it is not going to be run by the RORC. 

Seems like the 1925 Deed of Gift might have some teeth.

So what exactly does that mean Cherbourg has paid for?

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The biennial Fastnet Race, finishing in Cherbourg, is planned for 2021.  Any Race Committee can set up a race around Fastnet Rock whenever they like. It’s not moving.  

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4 hours ago, PaulK said:

The biennial Fastnet Race, finishing in Cherbourg, is planned for 2021.  Any Race Committee can set up a race around Fastnet Rock whenever they like. It’s not moving.  

If what @winchfodder is saying is true, then sure the 2021 race can finish in Cherbourg, but it may not be handing out the Fastnet Trophy.

The trophy was given to RORC with a deed of gift that outlined the start and finish point of the race.

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Does someone have a copy of this Deed of Gift?  According to the RWYC (Plymouth) website, https://rwyc.org/oceanic-racing/the trophy’s  donor called for an annual race, not biannual.

Martin proposed the formation of an Ocean Racing Club and it was formed then and there. Martin was later elected Commodore and presented a Challenge Cup. In a letter to the Chairman of the Committee he writes:
‘I have given a Challenge Cup to be sailed for yearly over the Fastnet Course which we chose this year and proved to be most satisfactory. It so happens that I am the holder of the Cup for the year, and it would give me great pleasure if the Committee of the Royal Western Yacht Club would consent to keep it with the other silver in the dining room … Under the conditions of the deed of the gift, should the Ocean Racing Club cease to exist or no race be held over the course during three successive years the Cup passes to the Royal Western Yacht Club at my death.’ ”

Since the race has been run every other year for a long time, it would appear that the “Deed of the gift” provides the RORC a good bit of leeway.

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46 minutes ago, PaulK said:

Does someone have a copy of this Deed of Gift?  According to the RWYC (Plymouth) website, https://rwyc.org/oceanic-racing/the trophy’s  donor called for an annual race, not biannual.

Martin proposed the formation of an Ocean Racing Club and it was formed then and there. Martin was later elected Commodore and presented a Challenge Cup. In a letter to the Chairman of the Committee he writes:
‘I have given a Challenge Cup to be sailed for yearly over the Fastnet Course which we chose this year and proved to be most satisfactory. It so happens that I am the holder of the Cup for the year, and it would give me great pleasure if the Committee of the Royal Western Yacht Club would consent to keep it with the other silver in the dining room … Under the conditions of the deed of the gift, should the Ocean Racing Club cease to exist or no race be held over the course during three successive years the Cup passes to the Royal Western Yacht Club at my death.’ ”

Since the race has been run every other year for a long time, it would appear that the “Deed of the gift” provides the RORC a good bit of leeway.

Surely the legal point is that at any stage that there is a variance from the original Deed of Gift, then the Deed of Gift will/can prevail.

Held annually from 1925, the RORC changed to a biennial event in 1935, missing out 1934. Nobody complained. 

The problem is that the RORC have agreed in a lucrative deal to change the course, which the donor described as being "most satisfactory ", for 2021. 

This is far more fundamental than a change of dates and has led offshore sailors worldwide, as well as RORC members, to question the decision that appears to have been made with minimal consultation. The belief among many experienced sailors is that the race to Cherbourg is NOT the Fastnet race. 

Hence the pressure is on the RWYC (who have had very little to do with the race for many years - the RORC send a full race management and PR team to Plymouth to finish the race and organise the prize giving) to take back control of the race (and the Fastnet Trophy) under the terms of the 1925 Deed of Gift.

Even if the RORC have registered the name as well as internet domain names etc, there is legal precedent that they will have to relinquish these to the rightful holder if they are in default, the RWYC.

Major brands have won cases after attempted hijacks. It is also the arrangement whereby all rights to the use of the term America's Cup and associated merchandise always revert to the winner.

If the 2020 Fastnet does take place this year without RORC involvement (apart from returning the Fastnet Trophy and all branding and intellectual rights to the RWYC), then it will be interesting what they will call their new race to Cherbourg in 2021.

 

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So... no one here has actually seen the “deed of the gift” or knows exactly what it says. It appears that perhaps 10 people are upset, and want the RORC to hold a meeting to vote on the issue.  Is it possible that the 200 - some boats that get excluded from racing to Plymouth because there’s no room for them there might vote to change the race to Cherbourg, so that they can participate?  The purpose of the original race was to promote ocean racing. Not to limit it to a certain few.  

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1 hour ago, PaulK said:

So... no one here has actually seen the “deed of the gift” or knows exactly what it says. It appears that perhaps 10 people are upset, and want the RORC to hold a meeting to vote on the issue.  Is it possible that the 200 - some boats that get excluded from racing to Plymouth because there’s no room for them there might vote to change the race to Cherbourg, so that they can participate?  The purpose of the original race was to promote ocean racing. Not to limit it to a certain few.  

The race limit imposed by the RORC is based on safety after the 1979 following consultation with rescue authorities.  It is not based on mooring space in Plymouth. 

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On 1/13/2020 at 2:18 AM, winchfodder said:

The belief among many experienced sailors is that the race to Cherbourg is NOT the Fastnet race. 

Have you asked all of them? Plenty I know think its a good change.

Quote

The race limit imposed by the RORC is based on safety after the 1979 following consultation with rescue authorities.  It is not based on mooring space in Plymouth. 

Thats why it was imposed, it has remained because of space in Plymouth.

Plymouth has been a shit place to finish for years. If it cared so much about the race it should have put more effort in. The world moves on, the French are a massive part of offshore sailing and I think having the Northern hemisphere's premier mass participation offshore race start in the UK and finish in France is very fitting. Plus, Cherbourg will put on a much much better show.

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No evidence the new course will provide any worse racing than the old one. In fact, I'd say that as boats get faster lengthening the course is in keeping with the spirit of challenge of the original race.

So if you can improve the onshore side that's obviously a good thing.

I'd have thought that was obvious, but maybe I didnt make enough allowance for age.

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Well the RWYC have announced a new biennial race on the original course around the Fastnet rock for 2020 alternating with the RORC race.

Not sure if it is the original 1925 course because they require the Scillies be left to port on the way to the Rock. The RORC race have the option of passing either way, and a couple of times the 'outside' route has worked for some classes. 

Surprised that they haven't taken back the name - maybe their legal advisors could not see how they might use the Deed of Gift to restore their rights.

The Royal Western Yacht Club of England in Plymouth is excited to announce the RWYC 'Lonely Rock Race' 2020.

In association with The Royal Victoria Yacht Club, this biennial Race will start from the vicinity of Ryde in the Eastern Solent. The course will leave the Isles of Scilly to Port, round the Fastnet Rock to Port, pass the Isles of Scilly once again to Port and finally finish in Plymouth Sound.

The name 'Lonely Rock' is a loose translation of the Gaelic name - 'An Charraig Aonair' for Fastnet Rock. The original course dates back to 1925, when two members of the RWYC famously made a bet on who could win a race around this notorious landmark, starting from Ryde and Finishing in the Port of Plymouth. Now, the RWYC is bringing the Corinthian spirit back to the race with emphasis on the club sailor with a desire to take on this famous course. The Entry will be open to mono and multi hull yachts between 30 and 60 feet in length.

Chris Arscott, RWYC Commodore, explains "It is our intention to run a Corinthian race on alternate years to the RORC Fastnet Race. We realise that there are a number of sailors and boats that may struggle to finish the RORC Rolex Fastnet Race in time for work on the following Monday due to its new length. The 'Lonely Rock Race' is in no way intended to replace the RORC Rolex Fastnet Race and is nothing to do with RORC in any way; indeed it is to be held in opposite years to RORC's race and as such offers an additional opportunity to enjoy one of the most challenging Corinthian offshore race courses in the world."

The RWYC 'Lonely Rock Race' will start on the 16th August 2020.

Further information and Notice of Race on the RWYC 'Lonely Rock Race' to follow shortly. Enquiries to admin@rwyc.org

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14 hours ago, Quagers said:

No evidence the new course will provide any worse racing than the old one. In fact, I'd say that as boats get faster lengthening the course is in keeping with the spirit of challenge of the original race.

So if you can improve the onshore side that's obviously a good thing.

I'd have thought that was obvious, but maybe I didnt make enough allowance for age.

;)

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2 hours ago, winchfodder said:

It will be interesting if they get support.

 

Not sure if the note below from the Save the Fastnet facebook page is correct. If so hard to see how the RWYC will get any entries as there are no 400 mile races in the area to get qualified. 

"The Notice of Race will be issued in a week or so. All details will be within that in terms of entries, qualification, course, classes etc. However we can tell you that it will be classes for IRC and Non-IRC, Multi hull, s handed. 30-60 feet yachts can enter and qualification is 400 mile race with 60% of the crew within 18 months of the start. Loads of other stuff but thats the core of it. Any questions please shout and we will see if we can answer them"

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8 minutes ago, winchfodder said:

 

Not sure if the note below from the Save the Fastnet facebook page is correct. If so hard to see how the RWYC will get any entries as there are no 400 mile races in the area to get qualified. 

"The Notice of Race will be issued in a week or so. All details will be within that in terms of entries, qualification, course, classes etc. However we can tell you that it will be classes for IRC and Non-IRC, Multi hull, s handed. 30-60 feet yachts can enter and qualification is 400 mile race with 60% of the crew within 18 months of the start. Loads of other stuff but thats the core of it. Any questions please shout and we will see if we can answer them"

'within 18 months of the start'

Anyone that did last year's Fastnet, SH, Middle Sea etc etc has already qualified.

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2 minutes ago, Snowden said:

'within 18 months of the start'

Anyone that did last year's Fastnet, SH, Middle Sea etc etc has already qualified.

So no hope then for most of the potential entries they might have been hoping to attract with no 400 mile races before the August start. 

When the RWYC realise this they will need to think about changing to 2 x 200 mile races or even 2 x 100 mile races. They then might need to set up new club races to get yachts qualified. Either that or expect yachts to enter their old mates the RORC races this season!

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15 hours ago, Quagers said:

I'd say that as boats get faster lengthening the course is in keeping with the spirit of challenge of the original race.

Looking at Class 4 there are still plenty of sub 40 ft. IOR lead mines in there.  Sure the JPK's & Sunfasts are little rocket ships but I thought mine in '99 on an OOD-34 was long enuf.

Disclaimer : mind, not planning to repeat that btw.  Now no go on anything less in ft. than my age.  I guess @moody frog will concur :lol:

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13 minutes ago, Laser1 said:

Looking at Class 4 there are still plenty of sub 40 ft. IOR lead mines in there.  Sure the JPK's & Sunfasts are little rocket ships but I thought mine in '99 on an OOD-34 was long enuf.

Disclaimer : mind, not planning to repeat that btw.  Now no go on anything less in ft. than my age.  I guess @moody frog will concur :lol:

It should be age, plus 20 feet as a minimum............. unless of course you're @jack_sparrows  age, not many boats that big going to the rock! :P

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1 hour ago, winchfodder said:

When the RWYC realise this they will need to think about changing to 2 x 200 mile races or even 2 x 100 mile races. They then might need to set up new club races to get yachts qualified. Either that or expect yachts to enter their old mates the RORC races this season!

OK, I was assuming 400 miles of offshore racing in multiple races rather than 1x 400 miler. Triangle Race for example.

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4 hours ago, winchfodder said:

Surprised that they haven't taken back the name - maybe their legal advisors could not see how they might use the Deed of Gift to restore their rights.

I suspect they didn't want to fight a battle with the considerably heftier RORC legal team... After all they forced SORC to not use the name of the rock in the race title...

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1 hour ago, JonRowe said:

I suspect they didn't want to fight a battle with the considerably heftier RORC legal team... After all they forced SORC to not use the name of the rock in the race title...

From the save the Fastnet page, looks like the RWYC will not go quietly!

 The 'Deed of gift' is in place for reasons like this. We will not forget the trophy, but these things take time. We have had QC level advice and are on top of this. in the mean time we can enjoy the fact that the course continues.

 

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4 hours ago, winchfodder said:

So no hope then for most of the potential entries they might have been hoping to attract with no 400 mile races before the August start. 

Also reading the FB page it looks like a non-stop qualifying passage of >400 NM will also be accepted.

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1 hour ago, winchfodder said:

From the save the Fastnet page, looks like the RWYC will not go quietly!

 The 'Deed of gift' is in place for reasons like this. We will not forget the trophy, but these things take time. We have had QC level advice and are on top of this. in the mean time we can enjoy the fact that the course continues.

 

I mean...they already have. This press release couldn't be more deferential to RORC if it tried.

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10 minutes ago, Quagers said:

I mean...they already have. This press release couldn't be more deferential to RORC if it tried.

Their lawyers might be less deferential. Possibly a compromise where the RORC pay a fee each Fastnet for the licence as they will be getting plenty from Rolex and Cherbourg 

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1 hour ago, winchfodder said:

Their lawyers might be less deferential. Possibly a compromise where the RORC pay a fee each Fastnet for the licence as they will be getting plenty from Rolex and Cherbourg 

Their lawyers will probably tell them that since the race hasn't been run under the terms of the deed of gift for decades they have granted an implicit licence and RORC owe them butkiss.

Also, licence what? My understanding is rorc own the rights to the name. And I doubt 99% of competitors care about a trophy they arent going to win anyway.

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On 1/17/2020 at 4:40 PM, winchfodder said:

250 should be sufficient or 2 nights at sea 

Wouldn’t you err on the side of caution as the organiser though, at least for the first race? They will look like idiots if a whole load of teams turn up unprepared and bankrupt the RNLI. 

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On 1/17/2020 at 4:40 PM, winchfodder said:

250 should be sufficient or 2 nights at sea 

Sounds like the RWYC are listening. They say the are changing qualification to 300 miles with 50% of the crew. Can be completed with two 150 mile passages or races. So hopefully many more boats will be able enter. 

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6 hours ago, winchfodder said:

Sounds like the RWYC are listening. They say the are changing qualification to 300 miles with 50% of the crew. Can be completed with two 150 mile passages or races. So hopefully many more boats will be able enter. 

And apparently increasing size limit to 65ft.

There are also rumours of interest from the IMOCA 60's. They have Transat to Charleston May 10th, then NY to Sables D'Olonne 16th June and then nothing special as yet until the Vendee Globe on the 8th November. So how about a sprint up and down Le Manche via Le Fastnet on the 17th August? Would fit in nicely!

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The froggies have enough fun races of their own to keep the Imoca's busy, and their sponsors happy.

@winchfodder, I am afraid you're slightly delusional.

I have a feeling this will be a "rally" type event, if you know what I mean.

 

Edited by Fiji Bitter
Rally
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Raising the size limit is more likely due to interest from large cruisers / cats. There are various large MOCRA class racers around in the south west and I could also see some of the big cruisers wanting to do it...

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12 hours ago, winchfodder said:

And apparently increasing size limit to 65ft.

There are also rumours of interest from the IMOCA 60's. They have Transat to Charleston May 10th, then NY to Sables D'Olonne 16th June and then nothing special as yet until the Vendee Globe on the 8th November. So how about a sprint up and down Le Manche via Le Fastnet on the 17th August? Would fit in nicely!

Well that is big enough for relatively big cruisers, but small enough to keep out the VO70's, Ultim's and the Supermaxi's.

 

What is the bet that the race gets dominated by TP52's and Volvo 65's?

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55 minutes ago, SteveJH said:

What is the bet that the race gets dominated by TP52's and Volvo 65's?

I think the race needs to be a success for that to worry anyone...

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5 hours ago, JonRowe said:

I think the race needs to be a success for that to worry anyone...

Yes. It will interesting on how many boats enter. Certainly makes a good challenge starting the day after Cowes Week. Possibly attracting some of the boats from the south west heading home. The RYA could even use as a test event for the mixed Olympic offshore.

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3 hours ago, winchfodder said:

The RYA could even use as a test event for the mixed Olympic offshore.

The RYA are using the RORC channel race for selection which takes place on the 1st of August, followed by then presumedly sending that pair to Malta which means the timing doesn't really work for that!

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On 1/20/2020 at 12:38 AM, winchfodder said:

And apparently increasing size limit to 65ft.

There are also rumours of interest from the IMOCA 60's. They have Transat to Charleston May 10th, then NY to Sables D'Olonne 16th June and then nothing special as yet until the Vendee Globe on the 8th November. So how about a sprint up and down Le Manche via Le Fastnet on the 17th August? Would fit in nicely!

Second half of August sounds a bit too close to the Vendée start, I would think, they need time for a "refresh" before the race.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2/12/2020 at 6:21 PM, aussieinlondon said:

it is tricker logistics wise for the british crew that aren't delivering the yacht home after the race 

What is?

P= train from Plymouth to London, or change on route for various destinations including Solent where you may have left car?

C= fast ferry to Portsmouth or slower one to Poole.

Or for the latter, just fill the boat up with decent wine, then 60 miles to the Needles and plenty of boats to hitch on if yours is not heading back?

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  • 9 months later...

So finally on 5th December with a members vote the decision by the "management" to change the finish to Cherbourg will be decided at an Extra General Meeting. 

Apart from the main arguments about fundamentally changing a historic institution Peter Nicolson (from the family design and build firm of yesteryear - a top competitive sailor) has pointed out that the timing of the arrival at the tidal gate at Cherbourg will turn the race into a complete lottery. 

It will be interesting to see what the membership decides.

From PN: 

"

A boat`s finishing position will, more often than not, depend entirely on its time of arrival at this tidal stretch. Some will carry a strong fair tide for the last 6 hours of their race, others will face an even stronger foul tide. A boat may have sailed brillianly to this point, but this will count for nothing if it arrives at the wrong stage of the tide.

This proposed change of course will completely ruin one of the main attractions of the Fastnet course, it`s fairness. This would be a tragedy and I sincerely hope that the RORC will reconsider it`s decision which seems to have been based solely on the quality of the post race social events and the associated financial advantages for the club."

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33 minutes ago, winchfodder said:

So finally on 5th December with a members vote the decision by the "management" to change the finish to Cherbourg will be decided at an Extra General Meeting. 

Apart from the main arguments about fundamentally changing a historic institution Peter Nicolson (from the family design and build firm of yesteryear - a top competitive sailor) has pointed out that the timing of the arrival at the tidal gate at Cherbourg will turn the race into a complete lottery. 

It will be interesting to see what the membership decides.

From PN: 

"

A boat`s finishing position will, more often than not, depend entirely on its time of arrival at this tidal stretch. Some will carry a strong fair tide for the last 6 hours of their race, others will face an even stronger foul tide. A boat may have sailed brillianly to this point, but this will count for nothing if it arrives at the wrong stage of the tide.

This proposed change of course will completely ruin one of the main attractions of the Fastnet course, it`s fairness. This would be a tragedy and I sincerely hope that the RORC will reconsider it`s decision which seems to have been based solely on the quality of the post race social events and the associated financial advantages for the club."

While that's undoubtedly true, it's just one more tidal gate in a course with many.

If you go down that route you come to the inevitable conclusion that handicap racing around the South coast of the UK and much of Northern France is pointless.

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1 hour ago, European Bloke said:

While that's undoubtedly true, it's just one more tidal gate in a course with many.

If you go down that route you come to the inevitable conclusion that handicap racing around the South coast of the UK and much of Northern France is pointless.

I agree with you to an extent, but there's a reason why races like the Myth of Malham finish on the beach at Hurst rather than at the RYS line. That stretch past Alderney and Cap de la Hague has some of the strongest tides in the whole channel.

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45 minutes ago, Snowden said:

I agree with you to an extent, but there's a reason why races like the Myth of Malham finish on the beach at Hurst rather than at the RYS line. That stretch past Alderney and Cap de la Hague has some of the strongest tides in the whole channel.

Yep. Cos the pissed up Rupert's at the squadron wouldn't be able to cope with so many boats finishing at once when the tide turned.

I get what you mean, a tidal get close to the finish is fresh in your mind, and that one would be a bastard.  The earlier ones have been forgotten.

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1 hour ago, IMR said:

So with almost zero offshore races in 2020 can we expect the experience requirement to be in the past 24 months rather than 12 months? 

Depends on the 2021 season, most boats qualify in the year easily enough

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42 minutes ago, JonRowe said:

Depends on the 2021 season, most boats qualify in the year easily enough

We are considering bringing a boat out from California. We have raced the boat a lot on the west coast, Transpac 2019(2200 miles), ca offshore race week 2019 (500 miles) etc. 

We would like to bring the crew out once rather than multiple times before the race. 

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50 minutes ago, IMR said:

We are considering bringing a boat out from California. We have raced the boat a lot on the west coast, Transpac 2019(2200 miles), ca offshore race week 2019 (500 miles) etc. 

We would like to bring the crew out once rather than multiple times before the race. 

RORC accepts qualifying plans for those who don't do RORC races, you just have to propose an equivalent plan to the requirements in terms of miles / offshore. They are usually accommodating of overseas entrants but COVID has prevented that this year

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8 hours ago, winchfodder said:

So finally on 5th December with a members vote the decision by the "management" to change the finish to Cherbourg will be decided at an Extra General Meeting. 

Apart from the main arguments about fundamentally changing a historic institution Peter Nicolson (from the family design and build firm of yesteryear - a top competitive sailor) has pointed out that the timing of the arrival at the tidal gate at Cherbourg will turn the race into a complete lottery. 

It will be interesting to see what the membership decides.

From PN: 

"

A boat`s finishing position will, more often than not, depend entirely on its time of arrival at this tidal stretch. Some will carry a strong fair tide for the last 6 hours of their race, others will face an even stronger foul tide. A boat may have sailed brillianly to this point, but this will count for nothing if it arrives at the wrong stage of the tide.

This proposed change of course will completely ruin one of the main attractions of the Fastnet course, it`s fairness. This would be a tragedy and I sincerely hope that the RORC will reconsider it`s decision which seems to have been based solely on the quality of the post race social events and the associated financial advantages for the club."

Getting into the finish line at Plymouth was always a massive tidal gate with fuck all wind so I don't see how this changes anything.

Other than "don't change history" the arguments in the EGM letter were all extraordinary poor. I will be voting against them for their shitty attempt to invoke the memories of those lost in 79 for their own ends if nothing else.

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2 hours ago, Quagers said:

Getting into the finish line at Plymouth was always a massive tidal gate with fuck all wind so I don't see how this changes anything.

Other than "don't change history" the arguments in the EGM letter were all extraordinary poor. I will be voting against them for their shitty attempt to invoke the memories of those lost in 79 for their own ends if nothing else.

Maybe you could post the EGM letter here for non-members to see the arguments. 

I completely agree with you that in no way the anti-Cherbourg league (ACL) should have invoked the memories of those lost in the '79 storm to support their arguments. THAT tragedy has nothing to do with a fundamental change to the course (which I do not agree with).

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Historic Fastnet Race sold to the highest bidder

At the end of November 2019 the Commodore, Flag Officers and Committee announced to the members and the press that the Fastnet Race would finish at Cherbourg in 2021 and 2023. This was less than a week before the 2019 Annual General Meeting at which the Commodore refused to discuss the issue by use of the 28 day notice rule required for additions to the AGM Agenda, thereby denying the membership the rightful opportunity of an open discussion on this important topic.

The Ocean Racing Club was founded in Plymouth after the first Fastnet Race in 1925 and for almost all of the last 95 years the course has been unchanged, starting in Cowes and finishing in Plymouth. The Fastnet Race is at the very core of the club’s existence, traditions and history and is arguably the most challenging of the three great offshore classic races, the others being the Bermuda Race and the Sydney-Hobart Race. The custodians of these other two great races would surely never suggest change the finishing port without first consulting the membership..

The subject of changing the finishing port of the Fastnet Race was discussed in committee on only 5 occasions over 4 years, the last of which was a meeting without agenda at one week’s notice just before the contract with Cherbourg was signed.

The manner in which this matter was conducted was possibly correct for an incorporated body, but was totally inappropriate for a member’s club. The announcement to the members and the world was made with no opportunity for any consultation with the membership or detailed discussion, thereby removing the right for members to appeal the decision. The reasons given were disingenuous as the driving force was clearly financial and this was deliberately concealed.

For its entire existence RORC has started and finished races with other clubs in many towns or cities, neither asking for nor receiving money from a club or town in which RORC was a welcome guest. The RORC executive stated that unless Plymouth City Council made a very substantial payment they would lose the race to Cherbourg, knowing full well that this was an unrealistic expectation for a city with rough sleepers and food banks. The Council could never be seen to be spending their citizen’s taxes on wealthy yachtsmen. RORC would have known it was a demand that could only be refused.

All of the manoeuvring was going on in the summer of 2019 at the same time that the sailors who died in the 1979 Fastnet were being commemorated by RORC members during Cowes Week, completely unaware that the City of Plymouth, which had supported broken boats, exhausted sailors and bereaved relatives was about to be unceremoniously discarded. The RORC did not even have the courtesy to inform either the Royal Western Yacht Club or Plymouth City Council of their decision prior to the press release and email to members. None of this reflects well on the club or its reputation.

There is no record in the minutes regarding the likely impact upon the race of the new course, which is over 90 miles longer and has the potential to place competing yachts in danger crossing the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Calm or combination of calm and fog will be as dangerous as a gale or storm. With Cowes Week now always held during Neap tides the Fastnet Race will as a result be during Spring tides. On the 11th August 2021, when the largest section of the fleet, the 40-50 footers, will be approaching Cherbourg, the maximum tidal stream will be 5.9 knots, turning both the race and the results into a lottery and change the fundamental challenging structure of the race.

It is inconceivable that the 2025 Fastnet Race, marking the Centenary of the Club, should finish anywhere other than Plymouth. Any possible investment in infrastructure by Plymouth in the intervening years can only be expected if there is certainty about the Fastnet Race finish for 2025, a decision that needs to be made sooner rather than later. The Commodore and Committee currently refuse to commit to finishing in Plymouth in 2025.

The Commodore has stated that he will not allow a vote on the 2025 finish in Plymouth as it is an “operational matter” and within the delegated powers under company law. This is a member’s club – RORC intends to deny the members any meaningful outcome on the main issue for which the EGM has been called.

The Commodore’s stated aim is his belief that it is beneficial to have all the boats together for the post-race party. We are all well aware that the large professionally crewed boats invariably leave soon after they finish. The smaller Class 4 yachts will now arrive a day later than previously and are likely to miss the prize-giving unless that is delayed, which could also mean that other boats will not stay on.

Apparently, all for a better party after the race, the RORC has sold the title of its premier race to the highest bidder, disregarding the traditions, history and race records, to sail a substantially different, and we believe, very inferior course. Cowes-Cherbourg via the Fastnet Rock is not, and never will be The Fastnet Race; it is “Fastnet in name only”.

Roger Motson,

on behalf of: Mrs A Antrobus, Mr P Antrobus, Sir Julian Berney, Mr A Brook, Mr M Brown, Mr C Buffin, Mr J Burnie, Mr P Cyriax, Ms K Cope, Ms V de Naeyer, Mr J Gair, Sir Anthony Greener, Mr E Hall, Mr R Hammons, Mr P Hutchinson, Mr P Jackson, Mr J Layfield, Mrs V Layfield, Mr I Loffhagen, Mr R Matthews, Mr T McLaren, Mr J McNaughton, Mr J Munns, Mr P Newlands, Mr P Nicholson, Sir Peter Ogden, Ms A O’Sullivan, Mr J Payne-James, Mrs J Payne-James, Ms H Pettifer, Mr T Richardson, Dr P Rowe, Mr A. Roy, Mr D Sanders, Ms K Schmitt, Mr D Walters, Mr M Wheeler, Mr J Wheeler, Mr D Wilks, Mr G Williams.

Not many signatories once you account for couples.......

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COMMODORE’S STATEMENT

Immediately following the 2020 Annual General Meeting there will be an Extraordinary General Meeting which has three Resolutions relating to the Club’s decision that the finish of the Rolex Fastnet Race in 2021 and 2023 will be in Cherbourg.

These Resolutions have been formally requested in accordance with the Club’s Rules by a group of members and a written Statement on behalf of those members in support of these Resolutions accompanies the Notice of Meeting.

Background

The decision in relation to the finish of the Rolex Fastnet Race was the subject of extensive consideration by the Club’s Flag Officers and a special meeting of the Committee on 23 November 2019 at which all members of the Committee except for one confirmed their support.

As members who have participated in the Rolex Fastnet Race in recent years are aware the arrangements for the finish of the race in Plymouth have become increasingly unsatisfactory as the number of entries has grown and the size of yachts has increased. Berthing for finishers in Plymouth itself ceased to be available after the 2011 race but even at that time it had become impossible to accommodate the entire fleet.

For the last 4 events, from 2013 until 2019, the finish has been hosted by Plymouth Yacht Haven which is remote from the City (the only connection by a ferry) and lacking permanent facilities to manage the arrival of several hundred crews. We have been very grateful for the efforts which Plymouth Yacht Haven has made to support the event including to ensure berthing and to permit the installation of a temporary race village with facilities for race management, competitors and sponsors. However, it is still unable to accommodate the largest yachts or a sufficient number of yachts; early finishers have to leave to make room for others and even then we have been required to arrange berthing for some at marinas elsewhere. Competitor feedback (including formal post races surveys) in recent years has consistently been critical of the finish venue and has suggested improvements which we have been unable to achieve in Plymouth.

The Club has done its best since 2013 to maintain the finish in Plymouth which has been achieved with the goodwill and support of Plymouth Yacht Haven, but at considerable cost to the Club1 . We have over several years sought to engage Plymouth City Council with the issues but despite some progress in 2019 they have proved unable to help the Club resolve these problems. The constraints of Plymouth are the reason for the requirement to limit the number of entries to the current levels, yet the popularity of the event is such that the entry list has sold out within minutes. [This includes payment for resident’s berths to be vacated and hiring of temporary buildings and other facilities].

The suggestion that the finish could be moved from Plymouth has been the subject of high level consideration within the Club for a number years; however, investigation of alternative venues on the South coast of England after 2011 provided no solution.

Against this background the Club was approached by the City of Cherbourg supported by regional authorities with a proposal to host the finish of the race which solves the logistical issues of accommodating the fleet and provides a significant improvement to the facilities which would transform the experience for competitors. In addition to this there is a very substantial financial benefit to the Club in terms of free berthing and infrastructure and other support for the race, and the entry numbers can be increased.

In making this decision the Committee was fully aware of the significance of the Rolex Fastnet Race not only to the foundation, history and traditions of the Club but also the Club’s future. The Committee took into account that the finish in Cherbourg extends the race by some 90 miles and introduces an additional tidal challenge, but this is well within the capabilities of today’s fleet. The race lies at the heart of the Club and is a major contributor to its standing and to its finances; it is very important that the Rolex Fastnet Race is maintained as a world class event, and the issues associated with the finish at Plymouth have risked compromising that. The race sponsors, Rolex, have expressed their full support for the decision.

Resolutions relating to the Rolex Fastnet Race

I now summarise the position of the Committee in relation to the Resolutions which have been requested to be put to the membership.

1) That an issue of this importance and significance to the Club should not be decided by the Committee without involving the membership.

The Rules of the Club are clear that the management of the affairs of the Club is delegated to the Committee (Rule 12.1) and there is no doubt that the course of the Rolex Fastnet Race is a management decision which the Committee has been entrusted to make. Accordingly, there is no basis within the Club’s constitution to support the proposition that the decision was improperly made or should have been delegated back to the membership.

It would not have been practical to consult with the membership in advance of a decision; presenting the full picture to members so that they could make an informed decision would have required us to release sensitive and commercially confidential information. This would have been prejudicial to the Club’s relationships with both Cherbourg and Plymouth.

The fact that the decision was supported by 21 out of 22 members of the Committee, all active members participating in the Club’s events who were appraised of all the facts, indicated that that it would be in line with the views of the membership as a whole.

The Committee is accordingly against this Resolution.

2) That the manner in which this matter was conducted was inappropriate for a members club.

The Committee has the responsibility and the authority to manage the Club’s affairs and after considering all the relevant factors including (i) the Club’s 3 heritage, (ii) the issues with Plymouth, (iii) the change of the course and (iv) the financial implications for the Club, the Committee came to the decision it reached. The membership was then advised of the decision.

This is how such a decision should be, and is invariably, made in any organisation which has so many members, whether it is a members club or any other type of organisation. The members elect the Committee to represent them, with authority to make decisions relating to the management of the Club.

The Committee is accordingly against this Resolution.

3) That the change of course is potentially hazardous and may damage the standing of the Rolex Fastnet Race

Offshore racing is by its nature hazardous and the Rolex Fastnet Race is no exception. The statement in support refers to the requirement to cross the English Channel shipping lanes in the vicinity of the Casquets TSS which is a regular feature of RORC racing (within the first stages of the race when the fleet is compressed, whereas in this case the fleet will be dispersed).

The change of course does not introduce hazards any greater than those which have been generally accepted for many years and the Committee is accordingly against this Resolution.

Rolex Fastnet Race 2025

We were requested to include in this Meeting a resolution which would require the Committee to finish the 2025 Rolex Fastnet Race in Plymouth.

The course of the Rolex Fastnet Race is a matter of operational management which is the responsibility of the Committee and, for the reasons I have explained above in relation to the resolutions at 1 and 2 of the Agenda, it is not possible to publicise all the information relevant to the location of the finish, which includes commercially confidential details.

Despite pressure from Cherbourg the decision to finish in Cherbourg was limited to the 2021 and 2023 races in order to keep open the possibility of reverting to Plymouth for 2025 and subsequent years. In any event this will be a decision which can only properly be made closer to the time and after the experience of finishing the race in Cherbourg, at which point the available options can be fully evaluated by the Committee in the best interests of the Club, the race and the competitors. It would be wrong to tie the hands of the Committee in this respect and accordingly we have declined to put any resolution about this to the Members.

I hope that you have found this explanation helpful and request that you support your Committee by rejecting each of the Resolutions.

Yours sincerely

Steven Anderson

Commodore

 

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Frankly I think:

1) The commodore is right that Plymouth has been a shit finish since we got booted out of the town marina.

2) Like it or not, the French are a huge contributor to RORC racing and massive supporters of offshore racing. Undoubtedly the finish in Cherbourg will be better supported and better for competitors than Plymouth has been the last few additions.

3) The ACL's arguments are mostly poor: (i) the Fastnet is already full of tidal gates; (ii) Plymouth has paid to host sailing events before (notably the AC), so the suggestion that asking them do to better was always going to be rejected and bleating about foodbanks is false; (iii) RORC races cross the channel all the time, including the TSS, so the safety argument is nonsense.

4) HOWEVER, the committee did misjudge the resistance to this, and should have done more to consult members before announcing the change. The "its an operational decision" stuff is a bit weak.

Ultimately, I don't think there is any doubt Cherbourg will be a better finish location and I don't think the changes to the course make a fundamental difference from a competition point of view. So really it just comes down to how much you care about history and whether you think the Fastnet Course is set in stone. I don't, so I support the change and franky, some of the piss poor or outright disingenuous arguments in the ACL's letter have wound me up and set me more against them than I was previously.

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It is all very difficult to figure out. 

I can see why Cherbourg is a fine destination. Large municipal marina with space for even more entries, a knowledgeable and enthusiastic offshore racing population in the town and surrounding area, good transport links with the UK plus great food and hospitality.

However I guess the RORC management were primarily looking at the cash injection when they sold out the race.

In the UK Plymouth city council would have to show this in their accounts and justify it to their rate payers. Presumably Cherbourg will eventually have to do the same so despite the commercially sensitive arguments raised by the RORC managent as an excuse to not show the members the numbers, at some stage all will be revealed. Either way I suspect that Plymouth could not, or would not want to, come anywhere near the French offer. As it is I bet Plymouth picked up the SailGp next year for a song (and will have a spectacular event). 

And do not doubt that Plymouth is an equally fine sailing destination with major visitor improvements over recent years around the waterfront and the Royal William Yard. 

Yes, the course will be 90 miles longer so more time at sea plus an extra major tidal challenge around the Casquets. The last few miles will be much more of a lottery than the arrival in Plymouth, but as pointed out there are a number of other tidal gates in the race to overcome anyway. As a sailing race it will be just as great and memorable experience for both the professionals and hundreds of amateurs taking part. 

So in the end it comes down to a respect for tradition. A history going back almost 100 years. I have raced the Fastnet several times and would be happy to sail the new course. But somehow I would feel uncomfortable calling the new race the Fastnet. 

I suspect that the RORC management will get their way this time. 

Fortunately the Royal Western YC had the vision and determination to reinstate the Fastnet on the original course. Hopefully in time they will win back their proper name and maybe even for the Centenary in 2025 run the true Fastnet parallel with the RORC's Cowes-Cherbourg, for that is all it will be for me.

 

 

 

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The idea that this is purely a money grab by RORC is, in my opinion, nonsense. As the commodores letter says, and I've personally experienced, Plymouth has been doing a disservice to finishers since the 2013 race. A tiny, poor, race village with limited facilities, in the middle of nowhere and without enough berths for the fleet.

The race deserves better and will get better next year.

Refusing to call the new race a Fastnet race is IMHO petty, RORC have been custodians of this race for almost 100 years and have undoubtedly made it what it is today. They absolutely have the right to do this if they think it is in the best interests of the race, which I agree it is. The course retains all the elements that make Fastnet what it is so nothing at all is 'lost.

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6 hours ago, winchfodder said:

In the UK Plymouth city council would have to show this in their accounts and justify it to their rate payers. Presumably Cherbourg will eventually have to do the same so despite the commercially sensitive arguments raised by the RORC managent as an excuse to not show the members the numbers, at some stage all will be revealed. Either way I suspect that Plymouth could not, or would not want to, come anywhere near the French offer. As it is I bet Plymouth picked up the SailGp next year for a song (and will have a spectacular event). 

French municipalities / departments have a lot more money than local city councils in England, due to the way their local government funding works. The French are generally more accepting of sailing races as a tourist event, the amount of people who wander up to even a mini start / finish is incredible, so there is more footfall which is great for mostly touristy towns. Plymouth CC will have the economic stats from previous race finishes (which having been there I suspect is minimal) so their appetite to spend their limited funding on something with a limited appeal is probably quite small....

Is this short sighted? Possibly, but there just isn't the public draw currently. If you had the money, could somehow pull off city centre berthing (when all the marinas are privately owned unlike Cherbourg), and build up a public spectacle (like the taste of tassie in Hobart) around the event, maybe you could build something that would have an economic return, but theres a lot of up front cost and risk for something that currently, doesn't draw crowds.

 

13 minutes ago, Quagers said:

Refusing to call the new race a Fastnet race is IMHO petty, RORC have been custodians of this race for almost 100 years and have undoubtedly made it what it is today. They absolutely have the right to do this if they think it is in the best interests of the race, which I agree it is. The course retains all the elements that make Fastnet what it is so nothing at all is 'lost.

If RORC would give up the title "The Fastnet" race that would be a fair comment, there are many races around the Fastnet rock and RORC have pressured them to not use the name, despite it being the name of a landmark. By changing the course away from its origins, it is no longer "The Fastnet" just "another Fastnet race". 

 

The ORC (before it was royal) was founded at the RWYC after the first race, and the deed of gift for "The Fastnet" challenge cup states:

Quote

I have given a Challenge Cup to be sailed for yearly over the Fastnet Course which we chose this year and proved to be most satisfactory. It so happens that I am the holder of the Cup for the year, and it would give me great pleasure if the Committee of the Royal Western Yacht Club would consent to keep it with the other silver in the dining room … Under the conditions of the deed of the gift, should the Ocean Racing Club cease to exist or no race be held over the course during three successive years the Cup passes to the Royal Western Yacht Club at my death.’

So technically, in 2022, the cup should currently go to the RWYC as they last sailed the course in 2020, and RORC will not have.

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Changing the arrival of Cowes-Dinard would be a bit strange of course, but few RORC races have had different courses and/or arrivals along the years, including de Guingand Bowl, Morgan Cup or Channel Race, and that hasn't been a problem.

Of course, the Fastnet Race is iconic, blah blah blah, but if you want to race around the rock, there are other ways to do it. If the course was the most important part of the race, competitors would have flocked massively into the Lonely Rock Race, they haven't.

RORC does what they think is best for the race, and it's fine by me, the frogs will be happy to save some time on the crossing for once.

I look forward to next year's race and adding up a Channel crossing to the Irish sea, for good measure, it will be ever slightly less depressing also, as we won't see the multis going down the Scilly while we're still going up...

 

 

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Just now, Snowden said:

Not exactly - they shortened that race due to lack of wind!

Nothing quite like a technicality on a technicality :lol::lol::lol:, I'd forgotten that to be honest. I wonder how different entries would have been without COVID too.

The point I was trying to make was that there is history behind the race that predates RORC so I sympathise with the traditionalists a bit, and I wish people would recognise why people are upset, and not just try to defend RORC's decision. I welcome a new challenge and a new race, but I feel the least RORC could have done was guarantee a centenary classic Fastnet race back to Plymouth.

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54 minutes ago, JonRowe said:

French municipalities / departments have a lot more money than local city councils in England, due to the way their local government funding works. The French are generally more accepting of sailing races as a tourist event, the amount of people who wander up to even a mini start / finish is incredible, so there is more footfall which is great for mostly touristy towns. Plymouth CC will have the economic stats from previous race finishes (which having been there I suspect is minimal) so their appetite to spend their limited funding on something with a limited appeal is probably quite small....

Is this short sighted? Possibly, but there just isn't the public draw currently. If you had the money, could somehow pull off city centre berthing (when all the marinas are privately owned unlike Cherbourg), and build up a public spectacle (like the taste of tassie in Hobart) around the event, maybe you could build something that would have an economic return, but theres a lot of up front cost and risk for something that currently, doesn't draw crowds.

Sounds like a great bunch of reasons to finish in Cherbourg. I agree.

55 minutes ago, JonRowe said:

So technically, in 2022, the cup should currently go to the RWYC as they last sailed the course in 2020, and RORC will not have.

Fine, whatever, if they want to do that. No one sails RORCs Fastnet race because of one specific trophy avaliable to the winner.

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7 hours ago, JonRowe said:

I feel the least RORC could have done was guarantee a centenary classic Fastnet race back to Plymouth.

I think Cherbourg is only signed-up for 2 editions, so the centenary edition is still on the table.

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