North Sails NEWS
BOATS TO WATCH IN THE 2021 ROLEX FASTNET RACE: BATTLE OF THE BEASTS
Each boat has a hunger for one thing: the Fastnet Challenge Cup
Three incredible speed machines are making their final preparations before the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race this Sunday; Rambler 88, the new ClubSwan 125 Skorpios, and the MOD70 Argo. Expect this year to be a showdown of the ages as we anticipate a thrilling battle of some of the world’s fastest boats. Each boat has a hunger for one thing: the Fastnet Challenge Cup (and bragging rights, of course). Seriously, what’s not to love about this year’s edition?
The boats at a glance:
Rambler 88 – a 88′ Juan Kouyoumdjian (aka Juan K) design born out of owner George David’s commitment to getting back on the water after Rambler 100 lost her keel during the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race. Launched in 2014, the 88 is a fast, versatile, IRC-optimized maxi yacht with an extraordinary racing record under her belt.
Skorpios – the recently launched ClubSwan125, a high-performance racing machine also designed by Juan K. Combining Nautor’s Swan’s pioneering design approach and the latest innovation, she’s been hailed “the fastest monohull ever” and a “record-breaker.” Still, she’s yet to line up and prove her potential on the water.
Argo – Jason Carroll’s MOD70 trimaran is equipped with new third-generation foils and sailed by a stellar crew who smashed the Bermuda-Plymouth record in June this year.
From the sail designer’s desk:
“I have three horses in the race,” enthuses North Sails designer Steve Calder. “They’re Rambler 88, the 125, and the MOD70 Argo. All three boats showcase the future of sailing.”
The two monohulls are competing in the IRC Zero class, and while they’ll be each other’s main competition, they’ll want to test themselves.
“Despite practicing with almost a shell of a crew on the 88 because of COVID quarantine conditions, most of the original Rambler guys have come back for the race,” explains Calder. “It’s George David’s favorite race, and he wouldn’t miss it for anything. And it’s great to see the seasoned vets and loyal crew back onboard. I expect they’ll be extremely competitive this season.”
Rambler’s pitman Curtis Blewett, who’s done the race seven or eight times, admits he’d love to “try and get the course record. We’ve missed it a few times on the Rambler, which means we’ll be more focused on boat performance and sailing our own race. I like sailing here because it’s usually really windy.”
“Our biggest competition? The new 125,” remarks Blewett. “But obviously, after 16 months off, our biggest challenge: sailing the boat well after a long break.”
Having faced similar COVID-related challenges, Skorpios will be skippered by the Spanish Olympic Tornado gold medallist and former Volvo Ocean Race skipper Fernando Echávarri. In addition, Volvo Ocean Race winners Brad Jackson, Michael Joubert and Jan Dekker, fellow Volvo Ocean Race veterans, Antonio ‘Neti’ Cuervas-Mons, David Pella, and navigator Campbell Field also join the team roster.
“They’ve spent the last couple of weeks getting prepared as the Rolex Fastnet Race approaches,” says Calder. “They’ll have onboard a new Helix fractional Code Zero, which they’re super happy with.”
Skorpios’s true potential will soon be revealed. “I never experienced the boat fully loaded up with the water ballasts and all of that,” comments Calder, who joined the team for sail trials a few weeks ago in Finland. “But every now and then, you’d touch some apparent wind with the A3 on, and she would want to light up. She powers up very quickly. With that boat length, the laws of physics favor her speed potential.”
In the MOCRA category, the 70′ Argo faces about a dozen multihulls, including Giovanni Soldini’s Maserati Multi 70. Argo’s foil upgrade, created by the MOD70’s original designers VPLP, brings her performance package closer to Maserati and the latest 30m long Ultim trimarans
“Argo has done some impressive miles over the past couple of weeks,” adds Calder. “They have this new foil mode now, and the boat is being pushed very, very hard.”
Sailed by Charles Corning with British offshore legend Brian Thompson, America’s Cup sailors Alister Richardson and Thierry Fouchier, and US Olympian Charlie Ogletree onboard, Argo has everything she needs to eat some miles between Cowes and Cherbourg.
May the fastest boat win.