Thanks to Suzanne and Alan for this sailing update. Ed
First run in 1925 and held once every two years since the 1930s, apart from war times, the Fastnet Race is considered a yacht race classic.
Now sponsored by Rolex and with over 300 competitors, for the first edition in 1925 only seven boats raced and ‘Jolie Brise’ was the first winner.
Therefore it is really fitting that the same, if a little changed over the years, ‘Jolie Brise’ competes in 2013 in celebration of her 100th year. In 1925 she took just under 147 hours. Sheʼs the only boat to have won the Fastnet Challenge Cup three times but there will be strong competition this year to see if this can be beaten.
Zennström aiming for a hat trick
The 2011 Fastnet Challenge Cup winner, Niklas Zennströmʼs 21.94m/72-foot British Mini Maxi ‘Rán 2’ is hoping to join an elite club, having won the race twice in a row in 2009 and 2011.
Against mounting odds, in 2011 ‘Rán 2’, from the United Kingdom, became the fourth yacht to claim successive overall race wins.
Securing a third victory this year would elevate ‘Rán 2’ to the most successful boat in the event’s history.
‘Jolie Brise,’ is a 56′ gaff-rigged pilot cutter built in Le Havre in 1913 and launched by the Paumelle yard to a design by Alexandre Pâris. She was built to make fast ocean passages and was the last boat to carry the Royal Mail under sail.
However, her career as a pilot boat was short-lived, owing to steam replacing sail, and she became a fishing boat for a time before being bought by E.G Martin in 1923, a founder member of the Ocean Racing Club now the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and organising club for this year’s race.
After a refit, she participated in the Fastnet race four times, between 1925 and 1930, winning three races including that inaugural race in 1925.
In 1927, Martin sold ‘Jolie Brise’, to Warren Ferrier and his partner Dr Brownlow Smith. An engine and an additional cabin were fitted at Morgan Giles’s yard at Teignmouth, Devon. Bobby Somerset, another founder member of the Ocean Racing Club, purchased ‘Jolie Brise’ in 1928 and together they competed in the Fastnet, Bermuda and Santander races.
In 1934 her ownership passed on to an American, Stanley Mortimer. After further alterations in Majorca and Marseilles, ‘Jolie Brise’ stayed in the Mediterranean for a while but with war approaching she returned to Southampton where she was sold to William Stannard. Requisitioned by the Royal Navy, she spent the duration of the war laid up on a mud berth at Shoreham, Sussex.
In 1945, during an aborted voyage to New Zealand, ‘Jolie Brise’ ended up in Lisbon where she was acquired by a Portuguese consortium headed by Luis Lobato. For nearly 30 years her home port remained in Lisbon but in 1975, partly because of the political situation in Portugal, she returned to the Solent, 50 years after her first Fastnet win.
In 1977 Dauntsey’s School based in Wiltshire secured the use of ‘Jolie Brise’ by arranging a long-term lease with her owners at the time, the Exeter Maritime Museum and the International Sailing Craft Association (ISCA). When the Exeter Maritime Museum moved its collection from Exeter to Lowestoft, ‘Jolie Brise’, now based in the Hamble, was no longer an active part of the Museum. As Dauntsey’s pupils had by then maintained and sailed ‘Jolie Brise’ for 25 years, the ISCA offered to sell her to the School for £75,000 and in 2003 Dauntsey’s became the proud owner of ‘Jolie Brise’.
Largest and smallest yachts
Back to this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race: the Largest yacht: (IRC) taking part in 2013 is Esimit Europa 2 (100ft), skippered by Jochen Schümann, twice America’s Cup winner and 3 times Olympic champion. The Largest yacht (Non-IRC) is Spindrift 2 (131ft).
The smallest yacht (IR) is Brightwork (31.3ft) and there are two small yachts in (Non-IRC), Astelle and Makani. Both are Corsair 31- 01D and (30.10ft).
In 2011 the Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi skippered by British yachtsman and double Olympic medallist Ian Walker set a new monohull race record of 42 hours 39 minutes for the race from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock.
Multihull Record winner In 2011 Maxi Banque Populaire V is making a comeback but now as Maxi Spindrift 2 and skippered by Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard.
Mike Sladeʼs 100ft Maxi ICAP Leopard, twice line-honours winner and former race record holder (2007, 2009) will also be taking part in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2013 which starts from Cowes on Sunday 11th August.
Image: © Jolie Brise