I’ve just come back from England where I sailed in the Fastnet Race (my second time) aboard Azzam, the 70-foot racing yacht of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team. They are in early training and try-outs for the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, which starts in Alicante, Spain in September 2014. The team is led by skipper Ian Walker, a double Olympic medal winner for Britain.
The Fastnet Race is one of the world’s most famous and classic offshore yacht races, organized by the Royal Ocean Racing Club in the UK. The biennial 608-mile race takes boats from Cowes past Land’s End, across the Irish Sea to the Fastnet Rock, around the rock and home to Plymouth.
Azzam won the race in 2011 and set a new course record, so there was plenty of attention on the boat. However, this year the winds were much lighter, giving the advantage to the bigger boats designed for ocean sprint races such as the Fastnet. Azzam, designed to race around the world in much rougher conditions, still did well, coming across the line in second place, beaten only by a 100-foot boat with electric powered winches.
I was invited to join the race as an onboard reporter, and here’s the film I made.