North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Marie Fabre

GRAND PRIX MACHINES AT THE ROLEX FASTNET

Check out the high-profile boats to watch in the World’s largest offshore race

📸 Yvan Zedda/Alea

The world’s largest offshore yacht race begins this weekend, the legendary Fastnet. With so many boats on the water, including some very high-profile racing boats, we sat down with North Sails experts to find out more about the competition. With this story, we’re looking into the Grand Prix boats. Just who are the IMOCAs and Class 40s we need to watch out for in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race?

Alan Pennaneach is really looking forward to this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race. At North Sails France, he’s worked with lots of IMOCA and Class 40 teams to fine-tune their sail plans for the race. Plus he’s getting ready to take part in the race himself onboard the Class 40 Banque du Leman.

IMOCAs

📸 Gauthier LEBEC / Charal Sailing Team

“The IMOCA teams we work with are looking forward to testing all the modifications we’ve done to their sails after the Vendée Globe,” he says, before discretely adding that he “can’t really detail the changes done. New sails and existing sails that have been re-cut will be onboard for the Rolex Fastnet Race. The sailors will give us their feedback directly afterwards.”

That will allow North Sails to modify the sails before the Transat Jaques-Vabre in November. “That’s one of the advantages of the 3Di technology,” adds Pennaneach. “You can tweak things easily as long as the sails are in an okay shape. We’ve done that lots in the Spring and Summer this year, and we’ll keep testing these throughout the season before creating brand new sails in 2022.”

So who are the boats to keep an eye on? It’s hard for Pennaneach to decide on just one favorite. “All the new generation boats are favorite – Vendée Globe winner Yannick Bestaven & Roland Jourdain on Maitre Coq, Jeremie Beyou & Christopher Pratt on Charal, Simon Fisher & Justine Mettraux on 11th Hour Racing Team, Charlie Dalin & Paul Meilhat on Apivia…”

Throughout the fleet, their main goal is to win the 2021 edition – and to prepare for the Transat Jacques-Vabre. This also holds true for Pennaneach too, but his presence onboard Banque Du Leman serves an additional purpose.

“We’ve delivered new sails last week, so the Rolex Fastnet Race will allow us to validate all the modifications done during the summer, prepare for the Transat and decide on any further modifications. Being onboard will allow me to immerse myself in the project and see what improvements can be made.”

Pennaneach has specifically worked on a new J1 that got rolled out two weeks ago. “It led to more changes in the mainsail because of the class rules. We cut the old main again, so we can see if it leads to any gain, and how it affects the balance of the boat.”

Class 40s

📸 Pierre Bouras

With lots of new Class 40s being built at the moment, the fleet isn’t quite complete but still features some big names. Antoine Carpentier on Courrier Redman is sailing with previous overall winner Gery Trentesaux, and British legend Mike Golding is racing with Alex Mehran on the Akilaria RC3 Polka Dot.

Pennaneach’s crew is one of the favorites too, just like the team onboard Palanad 3. “They’ve got the same boat than us, but skippered by a father and son who’re amateurs and surround themselves with professionals. They can definitely be at the front.”

Find out which doublehanded teams at the Rolex Fastnet we’re keeping an eye on.