TANGLES OF ANGLES
When selecting images for the Ultimate Sailing calendar, I love relating them to the month in which they’ll appear. I might choose a stunning red image for December’s holidays or something golden for autumnal months.
And right between the ruby-hued choice for February and April’s vivid announcement of Spring (north of the Equator): something green for March.This month features the turbulent teal waters of the storied Solent, off the Isle of Wight. This image was captured by the great Carlo Borlenghi during the Rolex Fastnet Race. As always, I am grateful to Carlo for sharing his talent with us.
This is one of my favorite months from 2019’s calendar. I love the motion and angle of the boats crossing tacks. Several of the Volvo Ocean Race boats participated in the Fastnet as a warm up for their ‘round-the-world adventure later in the year. The vertical shot by Luca Butto has such an artistic flow during the spinnaker take down.
This race is one of the world’s most storied middle-distance offshore races. Organized by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, it’s named for its first turning-mark, Fastnet Rock, which lies off the southwest tip of Ireland. Sponsored by Rolex since 2001, the race draws skippers from around the world competing to have their name engraved on its trophy, the Fastnet Challenge Cup.
Starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, the fleet exits the Solent through The Needles Channel, then follows the southern coastline of England westward before entering the Celtic Sea. From there they sail to Fastnet Rock before hanging a left, and another at Bishop Rock in the Isles of Scilly before finishing in Plymouth, England.
The 608-mile contest is a monumental test of skill for the sailors, and demands the ultimate in boat and crew preparation, navigation and execution. Since its inception, the Rolex Fastnet Race has had an outsize influence on offshore racing, and remains inextricably linked to advances in its safety practices, due in large part to the 1979 edition.
Forty years on, the legacy of the fallout from the infamous force 10 storm that hammered the fleet of 303 starters and caused the loss of fifteen racers, three rescuers and five boats, while resulting in only 85 boats finishing, is safer boat designs and seamanship practices that have benefited sailors the world over.
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