A fleet of almost 350 boats has staged the spectacular start of the 49th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race. The weather conditions have left spectacular images for this historic edition in which the tour will end for the first time in non-British waters. Spanish Olympic champion Fernando Echávarri skippered the 125-foot-long Skorpios supermaxi on its long-awaited world debut alongside a crew packed with Spanish talent.

The 49 Rolex Fastnet Race started this morning from Cowes (Isle of Wight, England) in exceptional condition. A headwind with intensities around 25 knots awaited the fleet in the first miles of a journey that for the first time in history will not end in a British port.

From Cowes, the fleet traverses the Solent before making a long journey across the English Channel to Land’s End and across the Celtic Sea to iconic Fastnet Rock, off the southern coast of Ireland. After circling the icon of the regatta, they will begin a stage back to the Isles of Scilly before heading for the first time to the French coast, crossing the finish line in the port of Cherbourg. The modification of the arrival has lengthened the route to 695 nautical miles compared to the 608 miles of the original format that ended in Plymouth.

This year Rolex celebrates the 20th anniversary of its association with the regatta and its organizers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC). The event is one of the cornerstones of the brand’s long-standing association with the sport of sailing, reflecting the Perpetual spirit that has been part of the Swiss watchmaker’s DNA since its inception.The Rolex Fastnet Race is part of the catalog of ocean racing sponsored by the brand, like the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the Rolex Giraglia and the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Paul Cayard, Rolex ambassador and winner of the Whitbread Round the World Race, has participated in several editions since its debut in 1993. In his opinion, it is one of the most comprehensive events on the international high-altitude regatta calendar: “The Rolex Fastnet is a rite of passage for any boater. By competing you expose yourself to the elements and some of the most difficult and fierce waters in the world. The route is of exceptional beauty, and constitutes a rigorous seamanship test that requires full concentration and determination ”.

Skorpios sets its first record

Among the 350 boats of 24 nationalities that have started, there is one that has managed to attract the attention of amateurs and professionals in the sector. The ClubSwan 125 Skorpios, skippered by Spanish Olympic champion Fernando Echávarri, makes its long-awaited competition debut setting its first record: never before has a 125-foot-long (42, 6 meters). Launched last June, this revolutionary monohull designed by Argentine Juan Kouyoumdjian is set to become the fastest sailing monohull on the planet. Among the 35 crew members of the Skorpios, Echávarri is accompanied by nine other Spaniards: Xabi Fernández, Antonio ‘Ñeti’ Cuervas-Mons, Pablo Arrarte, Pepe Ribes, David Pella, Fernando Rivero, Aleix Gelabert, Juan Meseguer and Carlos Hernández.

The Skorpios is one of the leading candidates for victory in real time, although it will not be easy against the winner of the last two editions, George Davies’ Rambler 88. Both came out paired in the Solent exit towards the open sea in what will undoubtedly be one of the most emblematic images of this edition.