The Rolex Fastnet Race 2021 took place between 8 - 14th August in a fast-paced and exciting offshore race, putting the tenacity and resilience of the multiple skilled crews to the test. But it was the British yacht Sunrise that outperformed her opponents to take the victory.First held in 1925 and organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), the 695 nautical mile race has been supported by Rolex since 2001. The biennial race has a reputation as one of the most demanding offshore contests in the world. This year witnessed a fleet of 337 yachts, of which 264 were competing for the overall win. The assembled fleet was as impressive as ever this year, with professionally crewed maxi trimarans and monohulls to Corinthian yachts, reflecting the broad appeal of offshore yachting.
Notably, for the first time in its near 100-year history, the course did not end in Plymouth, United Kingdom, but instead ended in Cherbourg, France. This significant change marks an evolution in the race, adding 87 nautical miles to the length, as well as fresh tidal complexities.With the race beginning on August 8, the 49th Rolex Fastnet Race was instantly a fierce contest, with gusts of 30 knots of south-westerly wind and a building sea. In the first 12 hours of brutal wind, dozens of yachts retired from the race facing equipment failure, injury, or overwhelming crew fatigue. One of the top yachts expected to win was involved in a collision that first afternoon that left it dismasted.Leading from the off, was the French multihull Max Edmond De Rothschild, who completed the race first with an impressive time of 33 hours - a new benchmark for the course. Skorpios, the largest entrant in the fleet, reached Cherbourg some 24 hours later, setting the monohull target time for future races. Winning overall from a fleet of more than 250 yachts, though, was the British yacht Sunrise. Tom Kneen, Owner and Skipper of Sunrise, commented, “The Scillies were key, We got there just before the ridge of light pressure. We knew we had to give it everything we had to stay in front of the ridge.” Prior training suggested this would be a point of contention for Sunrise, however hard work paid off and they instead enjoyed a period of fast sailing that dragged them further in the lead of their rivals.