Gaudoux looks to “special” Rolex Fastnet


Despite winning the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race, Didier Gaudoux admits he’s struggling to plan his preparation for this year’s edition, which has over 400 entries.


Didier Gaudoux will return on his JND39 Lann Ael 2; Photo: Kurt Arrigo/Rolex


Didier Gaudoux admits he’s unsure of what his preparation will be like ahead of this year’s edition of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s flagship event in 2021, which quickly secured a record 400-plus entry list in January.


Gaudoux won the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race overall title (Fastnet Challenge Trophy) on Lann Ael 2 and will return to the race in August on his trusty JND39. On board again will be family members, including his daughter Coralie and possibly son Thomas, as well as veteran Figaro ace Fred Duthil. Lann Ael 2 hasn’t changed apart from a new paint job.


The Frenchman warns that the big unknown at present is the same for everyone. “It will be a very special campaign because we don’t know when we can start to sail and we don’t know what our preparation for the campaign will be. I intend to do a few RORC races if it is possible.”


In 2020, Lann Ael 2 competed in just a few races but made the most of them, winning the IRC class in the Drheam Cup, ahead of Eric Fries’ JPK 11.80 Fastwave 6 and Laurent Charmy’s J/111 SL Energies, both of whom are also due on the start line off Cowes on August 8.


Géry Trentesaux, the 2015 winner on Courrier Du Leon (pictured), is returning aboard Antoine Carpentier’s Class40 Courrier Redman; Photo: Kurt Arrigo/Rolex


That event also provided good preparation, as it started from Cherbourg where this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race will finish for the first time. “It will be a new challenge tactically between the Scilly Islands and Cherbourg with the tide,” Gaudoux said.


While his boat is based in southern Brittany, his crew, especially Duthil, know the complex waters around Cherbourg well. The city is planning for the arrival to include Covid restrictions for the many visitors from the local region.


“A lot of people will be coming and the harbour is very close to the downtown so it will be a special welcome,” Gaudoux said.


Géry Trentesaux won the 2015 overall title on his JPK 10.80 Courrier Du Leon, but this year is returning aboard Antoine Carpentier’s latest generation Mach 40.4 Class40 Courrier Redman, runner-up in this year’s RORC Transatlantic Race.


Alexis Loison and Jean Pierre Kelbert on JPK 10.30 Léon will defend their 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race IRC Two Handed title; Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC


Alexis Loisin became the race’s first double-handed overall winner with his father Pascal in 2013 aboard their JPK 10.10 Night And Day. He’s back to defend his title in the IRC Two Handed class on board the JPK 10.30 Léon with Jean Pierre Kelbert, proprietor of the successful French Chantier JPK.


Loisin has won IRC Two Handed in three of the last four races and only was displaced into second in 2015 by Kelvin Rawlings and Stuart Childerley on their J/105 Jester, who that year were fourth overall under IRC and top British finishers.


Rawlings and Childerley are back to try their hand again, this time with their newly acquired Sun Fast 3300 Aries.


“We look forward to the new Fastnet course,” Childerley said. “It will be a hard-fought contest all the way to the finish line.”


The big draw is both the heightened competition in IRC Two Handed, with all the podium finishers from the last two races returning including the Sun Fast 3300 Fastrak XII, sailed by Henry Bomby and Hannah Diamond two years ago, and Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 10.80 Raging-bee², second and third respectively in 2019. This is bolstered by Two Handed racing being on the Olympic roster for Paris 2024.


“Double-handed sailing continues to inspire and provide a challenge that is complimented by the Rolex Fastnet Race,” concludes Childerley.

Rolex Fastnet Race smashes entry recordsr

With more places made available due to the new finishing point in Cherbourg, the Rolex Fastnet Race receives a record 400 IRC entries within an hour.