Japan’s Team Milai joins Rolex Fastnet Race
Japanese Mini Transat sailor Masa Suzuki will skipper Class40 entry Milai with compatriot Koji Nakagawa and France’s Anne Beaugé in August’s Rolex Fastnet as the world’s biggest offshore race finishes in France for the first time.
French sailor Anne Beaugé and Japan’s Masa Suzuki and Koji Nakagawa
The limited Asian participation in the 49th Rolex Fastnet Race has increased following the entry of Milai in the Class40 division as her three-strong crew prepare to compete in the 2022-23 Globe 40 round-the-world race.
A record fleet of over 450 boats are expected to compete in this year’s Rolex Fastnet, which starts in Cowes on August 8 and will conclude for the first time in France. The new finish in Cherbourg – instead of Plymouth – extends the course from 608nm to 695nm.
Masa Suzuki and Koji Nakagawa will race the Rolex Fastnet for the first time
Early entries with an Asian connection included Japan’s Hiroshi Kitada, who returns to the UK with his Pogo S3 Kiho as he competes in the popular Class40, which featured 41 entries as of mid-June.
US-based Hiroshi Nakajima will skipper Hiro Maru – a Sparkman & Stephens 49 launched in 1971 as Scaramouche – in IRC 3 again after making their Rolex Fastnet debut in 2019, fresh from winning their class in the Transatlantic Race from Newport to Cowes.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong-flagged Double Edge, a Corby 38 owned by Chris Schram, will compete in IRC Two-Handed, a hugely popular class with 89 entries by June.
Masa Suzuki completed the Mini Transat in 2019
However, Milai was a relatively late addition to the line-up and will feature Japanese duo Masa Suzuki and Koji Nakagawa with French sailor Anne Beaugé, who manages the 2010-built Pogo S2 from its base in Lorient, France.
Team Milai was formed after Suzuki and Beaugé, both accomplished solo sailors, finished the Mini Transat in 2019. Nakagawa, a businessman based in Japan with a strong sailing background, then approached the pair about creating a team to race around the world in the Globe 40.
“The Rolex Fastnet is legendary, part of the history of sailing,” says Suzuki
Suzuki said: “We’re competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race for the thrill of a great event that features so many boats and classes. We aim to finish safely, have fun on the water and develop our skills on the boat as we aim to qualify for the Globe 40.
“The Rolex Fastnet is legendary, part of the history of sailing. It’s an interesting mix between sailors from the UK and France and elsewhere, and between professionals and amateur sailors. The starting line looks to be a challenge itself along with the strong current in the English Channel.”
Zoë d’Ornano – the 12-year-old daughter of Malaysia-born Lay Koon Tan – is set to become the Rolex Fastnet Race’s youngest competitor in August when she competes with her parents on one of the Tall Ships Youth Trust’s two Challenger 72s in a record 450-plus entry list.