SAILORS from the Isle of Wight will be part of a record-breaking 400-strong yacht fleet competing in the world’s largest offshore sailing event, the 48th Rolex Fastnet Race, starting from Cowes at 12.30pm today (Saturday).

On boats ranging from 30ft to 105ft, around 3,000 crews will battle it out over more than 600 nautical miles for the coveted Fastnet Challenge Cup.

Starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, yactsmen will set sail for the Fastnet Rock, off south-west Ireland, negotiating a course taht will take them back around the Scilly Isles to Plymouth, in the toughest race of its kind in the summer yachting calendar.  

The Fastnet Race will include Cowes sailors Hugh Brayshaw (Abu 43, Figaro 2), Mark Wynter (Alexa, X-332), Sean McCarter (Umiko, Swan 82) and Richard Palmer (Jangada, JPK 10.10), together with Pete Newlands (Anticipation, First 40.7), of Gurnard.

Jeremy Waitt, who will co-skipper Janganda tomorrow, said: “As a two-handed team, the balance between trimming and sleeping is going to be the most challenging.

"But it’s such an iconic race, steeped in history, which attracts the best of both Corinthian and professionals.”

Pete Newlands added: “I have to confess we are racing with a normal boat and with a normal crew of UK workers, all hoping to safely achieve a finish place for their bucket list and happy not to be last, hopefully).

"We also look forward to witnessing some sea life, such as dolphins etc."

Apart from top teams around the UK, the international entry, from 26 countries, will include sailors from as far afield as Australia, China, the United States and Russia.

The biennial event attracts crews from all walks of life, from aspiring sailors, to professional crews, of all ages and from all professions.

Some will be racing for charity and others as a personal challenge.

For the world’s top professional sailors, it is a ‘must do’ race, while for some it will be their first-ever race.

There are also those who have competed in the Fastnet Race for more than 50 years. 

The spectacle of the start, in Cowes, will showcase the most diverse range of yachts imaginable and will be watched by hundreds of spectators who will line the shores of The Solent and beyond to see the fleet off.

There will be old classic yachts in the fleet, mighty ‘flying’ trimarans and everything in between. 

Entries opened for the race in January, with all places taken up in under five minutes this year.

The first race took place in 1925 with just seven boats and, apart from missing a few Fastnet Races during the war years and has been run biennially ever since.

The 15 sailors who perished in the 40th anniversary Fastnet race of 1979 will be remembered this year at a service in Cowes tomorrow.

To follow the race, visit the Fastnet Race website for the latest news, race reports, photos, video and blogs from the boats themselves.

Live coverage of the start will also be streamed live on the race website, as well as on Facebook Live on and by tuning in to Fastnet Radio on 87.9FM or by going to for all the latest news, interviews with skippers and information.