Rolex Fastnet 2017 - Cervantes Trophy - #NioviceToFastnet

Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 – The Cervantes Trophy


After a weekend of yacht race training the next step in qualification for the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017, was the first overnight qualifying race from Cowes, on the Isle of Wight to Le Havre on the French coast.

With a couple of waypoints* on route to navigate, the Solent’s notorious tides, avoiding the other boats at the start and finally the entry into Le Havre harbour at the finish (powerful change of tide depending on arrival time), it really is an eye-opener to the skill involved in yacht racing.

With a skilled navigator and highly experienced skipper, the crew managed to negotiate the 118nm course in in just 115nm (less distance travelled due to tide) in what was a remarkably direct route – another fascinating aspect to sailing.

The Cervantes Trophy Race Course

Cowes to Le Havre

Cervantes Trophy 2017 - #NoviceToFastnet - Cowes to Le Havre Yacht Race

/ The Cervantes Trophy – Cowes to Le Havre /

Was the Cervantes Trophy race tiring?

Quite simply, yes. When sailing non-stop through the night, the crew are split in 2 shift patterns, sleeping every 4 hours, regardless of the time of day or night. Although not compulsory, it has been said that when crewing aboard a racing yacht, always eat and sleep whenever you get the chance as you never know when the entire crew might be needed and sleep could be a distant dream.

The Cervantes Trophy for us was only a weekend, with favourable wind and tide conditions, but the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race will be in the region of 4days/nights (in our class of yacht), so adhering to this concept in grabbing sleep when you can, is one a novice will certainly take..

How close do the boats get in Yacht Racing?

Boats jostle for position at the start and later at speed, the yachts can come uncomfortably close. As you can see from the video below, even when clear of the Isle of Wight, the boats close in looking for the most favourable wind. Later on in the race boats spread further apart as navigators look for the fastest passage to the finish line and the different category of yacht (speed determines their proximity) travel at different speeds, depending on their sail size to boat weight ratio.

The excitement then heats up again closer to the finish line, a coordinate location in Le Havre – arrival for Trevor’s yacht being in the early hours of Sunday morning! Finding the finish line is an excercise in skilful skippering and yacht handling – well done to all of the crew in maing the finish.

The Cervantes Trophy – Yacht Racing Video:

All footage filmed during racing was as a crew member without professional equipment and during active participation in managing the yacht – #GetInsired, this could you yacht racing – #NoviceToFastnet.

Not only yachts in The Channel – a delayed start.

Nick Elliott, RORC Racing Manager, reported: “The start was delayed by ten minutes due to a container ship going through. A southerly wind of ten knots increased to about 15 knots giving a fast passage to Owers. As the fleet passed Owers the wind began to fade before building to 20 knots from the east.”

Yachts and Tankers - not a good mix - Cervantes Yacht Race - #NoviceToFastnet

/ Tanker delays Cervantes trophy start /

Keeping dry is not an option?!

In terms of yacht racing and even though wind speed picked up and a storm warning issued, mother nature provided for relatively friendly conditions. This did not prevent the inevitable – getting wet. In changing sails at the bow (front of the boat) and in seas that saw 2m waves on the return, it was with no surpise that the waves breaking over the bow, showered those changing the jib (font sail) with ice cold Channel sea water.

Although looking rather impressive at the bow being hot by waves, with the sailing kit Trevor had been advised to buy from Musto, keeping both dry and warm was not an issue. Thanks to Ocean Leisure in London for their great advice.

A strong finish overall

Finishing 49th out of 85 (after RORC handicap correction), with 7 DNF, our 45 footer beat some of the larger class 1 yacht and a class 0 (larger and faster yachts), so a good race with little drama. A great start to the yacht racing season for the new crew.

Cervantes Trophy Yacht Race - #NoviceToFastnet

/ Cervantes Trophy – The Results /

See the full Cervantes Trophy 2017 Results »

#NoviceToFastnet: What’s next?

The Myth of Malham Race.

Novice to Fastnet - Cervantes Trophy - Prestige Film at Helm

/ #NoviceToFastnet – They let Prestige Film’s Managing Director, Trevor Pritchard loose at the helm – crazy fools. /

Next up for Trevor and the crew of Zephyr is the qualification for the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Yacht Race is the The Myth of Malham Race starting on Saturday, 27th May, 2017 with yacht crews racing from Cowes to Eddystone and back to the Solent covering a distance of 256nm.

A minimum of 24 hours to Plymouth (in what will be the all important opening leg of the Rolex Fastnet) and back again to the finish at Cowes.

Photos or video of the Cervantes Trophy?

Please send us your pics and videos as we’d love to see other crew experiences.

Find out more about Prestige Film at the Rolex Fastnet Race – #NovicetoFastnet?

Please take a look at our dedicated Rolex Fastnet Race – Novice to Fastnet.

Interested in Sailing?

If you’d like to find out more about sailing and yacht racing, take a look at the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) website or get in touch and we’ll be able to point you in the right direction.