The record for sailing the course between Cowes to Fastnet rock and back to Plymouth has been smashed by almost three hours, the World Sailing Speed Racing Council has confirmed.


Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 trimaran Powerplay, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield, completed the 608 nautical mile Fastnet race course earlier this month, between April 5-6, in 25h 04m 18s. The average speed was 23.73 knots, though the vessel exceeded 30 knots in the Celtic Sea.

The previous record was set by a similar vessel Phaedo 3, in the 2019 Fastnet race, by Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. His time was 27h 42m 26s. The WSSRC confirmed the new record this week.

Peter Cunningham said: ““It was kind of ambitious, but the conditions were right, and the team was ready to go”.

The inaugural Fastnet race took place in 1925, featuring just seven competitors. Now the bi-annual event has become so popular among sailors that the original endpoint, Plymouth breakwater, has been switched to Cherbourg in France. By 1919, 388 boats from 27 countries were taking part.

The 1979 Fastnet race is perhaps the best known, for tragic reasons. A storm hit the course, leading to the death of 19 people (15 sailors and four rescue workers), the sinking of five boats, and the capsize of at least 75 more. Of 303 vessels which started the race, only 83 finished. The rescue attempt involved more than 4000 people from the armed forces, emergency services and civilian seafaring communities.

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