Organisers of the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), currently scheduled to begin this year will on Sunday 8 August, have confirmed that following France’s new tightened travel restrictions, several scenarios have been embraced to ensure the race can continue.
Effective from the 31 May, any traveller from the UK must have pressing grounds for travel or be either a European Union national or a French permanent resident.
Entrants must also have a negative PCR test result for COVID-19 from within 48 hours of entry and isolate for seven days on arrival.
According to a press release provided by the RORC, despite “no mention of how long these restrictions may be imposed”, organisers are confident that the 8 August start date will remain unaffected and that the race management team are “are considering all scenarios and how it could affect the running of the race”.
“We don’t know how long these restrictions will last, but we remain hopeful that they will have little impact on the race and how we are able to welcome the fleet in Cherbourg,” commented Race Director Chris Stone.
“As with most of the pandemic, things are changing daily and we are working with our partners in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin and government authorities to create the safest race we can; on and off the water.
“The team will continue to monitor the situation and advise on issues and alternative arrangements, if necessary.”
Arrival Faastnet Cherbourg President Jean-Louis Valentin said on the new restrictions: “We will continue to adapt in order to accommodate the finish of the Rolex Fastnet Race, as we have done since the beginning of the pandemic. We had already anticipated the reception of boats before the start of the race in Cherbourg, notably for the French, before reaching the start line in Cowes.”
The 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race is set to conclude in Cherbourg, France for the first time in the race’s history. As with previous editions, the race will commence in Cowes, Isle of Wight.
“As far as the finish is concerned, we will be able to respond to several scenarios, in conjunction with the race management, while hoping for a rapid evolution,” added Valentin.
As per UK Border Force advice, competitors sailing to the UK for any RORC races, including the Rolex Fastnet Race, can now do so without the need for quarantine and paying for tests on arrival in the UK on the assumption that no crew member touch land.
“This is great news for our European sailors and should provide plenty of reassurance for the Rolex Fastnet Race competitors in their preparations,” added Stone.
“We have also decentralised our race offices, offering competitors the opportunity to finalise their registrations in either the traditional Cowes office, the Hamble office on the mainland, or for the first time, a race office in Cherbourg from 4 August.
“It’s a great initiative for our European competitors who can benefit from free berthing in Cherbourg throughout that period and carry out all the registration procedures before taking the start on the 8 August – all without having to stop over in the UK.”
RORC has also updated the fleet with its other races in the lead up to the Rolex Fastnet Race. The Morgan Cup Race was initially scheduled to held towards Guernsey on Friday 11 June, with a finish in St Peters Port. Following the uncertainty around entry in the Channel Islands, the RORC Committee, in consultation with local authorities, have moved the finish to Dartmouth, UK.
In addition, the Cowes Dinard St Malo Race for Friday 9 July has also faced subtle changes to accommodate fleets on both sides of the Channel.
With the uncertainty around entry into France, the RORC Race team is currently formulating a continuation race plan. After the finish mark for the traditional finish line outside St Malo, the crew will continue to race back to the UK.
It is anticipated that many crews will take up this option.