Piet Vroon goes for his 25th Fastnet
BRESKENS _ The Rolex Fastnet Race is on a roll. The Aug. 11 starting line of the 2013 race from Cowes to Plymouth by way of Ireland’s Fastnet rock will boast a record 380 yachts. Their crews hail from 22 nations and territories.
The field includes 24 Dutch boats, including the 43-ft Tonnerre de Breskens of Piet Vroon (photo). The 2001 winner, now 83, plans to run in his 25th Fastnet this year. There’s only one participant older than he: Ken Newman, 84, will be racing in his 28th Fastnet.
Many eyes will be on an even older participant: the Jolie Brise, a gaff-rigged pilot cutter that marks her centennial this year. Built by the Paumelle yard in Le Havre, France, in 1913, the boat was the last to carry mail under sail. She has won the Fastnet 3 times, including the inaugural contest in 1925. Jolie Brise is owned, maintained and sailed by the pupils of Dauntsey’s School which holds a number of celebratory events throughout 2013, including centennial cruises, dinners and receptions. Highlights of the season will see Jolie Brise taking part in the Channel Classics Regatta in July and the Fastnet Race in August.
The Rolex Fastnet takes on many comers. The largest and fastest boat this year will be the 130-ft Maxi trimaran, Spindrift 2, entered by Dona Bertarelli from Switzerland. In 2011, the same trimaran but in different hands set the race’s multihull record of 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes The current monohull record is: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes.
So what sends with 6 decades of racing worldwide under his belt back to the Rolex Fastnet, time and again? “You haven’t sailed until you have done the Fastnet,” Vroon said in a recent interview with Yachting World.