Plymouth replaces lost Fastnet with new sailing race

Plymouth has moved to replace the famous Fastnet Race it has recently lost by creating a near like-for-like replacement.

The city's Royal Western Yacht Club has announced that it will launch its own equivalent called the 'Lonely Rock Race' on August 16 this year.

It comes after the organisers of the Fastnet Race announced in November that they are moving the classic yacht race finish from Plymouth to Cherbourg in 2021 and 2023 after almost a century.

Plymouth has hosted the Fastnet finish since 1925 and will now do the same for the Lonely Rock Race Credit: Rolex Fastnet Race
Competitors contest the 45th Fastnet Race in 2013 Credit: PA

The biennial race will run on alternate years to the Fastnet Race and will follow the traditional course.

This dates back to 1925, when two members of the RWYC made a bet on who could win a race around the landmark Fastnet Rock off the south coast of Ireland, starting from Ryde and finishing in Plymouth.

Competitors will once again set off near Ryde in the Eastern Solent, then leave the Isles of Scilly to Port, round the Fastnet Rock to Port, pass the Isles of Scilly once again to Port, and finally finish in Plymouth Sound.

The competition will be open to mono and multi-hull yachts between 30 and 60 feet in length.

Plymouth Sound will welcome hundreds of sailors home every two years after a gruelling 608-mile course Credit: PA

It seems that the Fastnet Race had outgrown Plymouth.

The 2019 event saw 388 yachts competing from all over the world but there were more than 150 yachts on a waiting list.

The RORC said the finish line is being moved to France to open the race up to more competitors, with Cherbourg offering increased berthing and better shoreside facilities.

There was a social media backlash to the announcement and a Facebook page, Save the Fastnet Race, has more than 1,300 followers.

The introduction of the new Lonely Rock Race might go some way to placating those who feel that Plymouth has lost an integral part of its maritime tradition.