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Amokura (credit Nic Compton)
Classic yachts from different eras will be taking part in the Rolex Fastnet Race on 8 August. And as the race approaches its 50th edition in 2023 and the 100th anniversary of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, which organises the event, two years later, RORC is encouraging more classics to take part, particularly those that can boast prior association to the bi-annual blast around the Fastnet Rock, finishing this year for the first time in Cherbourg.
Oldest in the fleet of more than 400 boats in 2021 is Amokura, the 50ft yawl built by Moodys in 1939, originally for Lord Mountbatten’s Aide de Camp, Ernest Harston. Amokura competed in the 1959 Fastnet Race and again 60 years on in 2019, but finished neither. She was famously owned by George Millar, who wrote the sailing classics Oyster River and White Boat to England.
Current owner Paul Moxon bought Amokura to take his family cruising, but has since got the racing bug and the boat has been strengthened for racing by Butler & Co in Falmouth. Paul races double-handed with Steve Jones and says: “Rather than it sitting there looking pretty, it’s designed to sail long distance and there is a real attraction to throwing it back into that world.”
Some of the most significant maxis from the third quarter of the 20th century are entered in the 2021 Fastnet. The 63ft S&S designed yawl Rafanut was built in 1955 for Jacob Wallenberg of the Swedish banking and business dynasty. She is now campaigned by his grandson Fredrik, who has followed in his grandfather’s footsteps by winning the Gotland Runt in Rafanut, albeit in the classic division.
The 1961 van de Stadt-designed 73ft ketch Stormvogel is also entered in the Fastnet, celebrating the 60th anniversary of her Fastnet line honours victory, when Francis Chichester was her navigator. On board for this year’s race, it is hoped, will be several people with connections to Stormvogel’s formative years.
Stormvogel has recently completed an extensive refit in Bodrum, at Metur Yacht, with Ian Hulleman, the yacht’s Kiwi skipper for the past 12 years, overseeing all work. Stormvogel’s manager and Rolex Fastnet Race skipper Graeme Henry, who has been involved with the yacht since 1987, describes the refit as “bringing Stormvogel back to a new level of performance while maintaining the original 1961 concept and 1960s’ style”.
From the early 1970s, built in wood, is the German One-Tonner Oromocto. She is a family ‘hand me down’ and has for the last 11 years been raced by Kai Greten, whose grandfather Ernst had commissioned and campaigned her during the 1970s.
Also entered is Eager, the first Nicholson 55 launched, when she was the Lloyd’s of London Yacht Club’s Lutine, until she was sold in 1999.
Finola,GBR 23806,Swan 36
The 1967 Swan 36 Finola is a Sparkman & Stephens design skippered by regular RORC racers Chris Frost and Welsh transoceanic rower Elin Haf Davies.
Stuart Greenfield’s Morning After is an S&S 34 from the same era, while one of the most heavily campaigned yachts in RORC races throughout the last 22 years has been Harry J Heijst’s immaculate S&S 41 Winsome, dating from 1972 and built by Royal Huisman.
This year’s race will be the Dutchman’s tenth, having missed one due to ill health and another in 2007, when he admits there was a crew mutiny, with 35 knots of wind at the start. He says he proceeded to sail her home to Holland in 40 knots downwind.
Currently on the waiting list for the Rolex Fastnet Race is Pen Duick VI, the last of the series of yachts campaigned heavily by Eric Tabarly. The 73ft André Mauric-designed aluminium ketch competed in the first Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973-74, during which she dismasted twice. Most impressively Tabarly entered this same maxi yacht in the OSTAR in 1976 and entered the history books when he won the race for a second time (following his victory in 1964), despite the 32-tonner usually requiring a crew of 12 to handle her.
Pen Duick VI competed alongside the 1977–78 Whitbread Round the World Race as an unofficial entrant, due to her keel being ballasted with spent uranium.
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