RWYC Lonely Rock Race

LRR – The Race

17th July 2022

About The Race

Facts, Stats & History

Founded in 1925, the original start was off Ryde Pier in the Solent with help from the RVYC and the finish was at the Breakwater in Plymouth Sound. Under the flag of the RWYC, the first race had 7 starters although two officially retired. By 1927 it received international recognition with two American yachts and one French among the fleet of 12. The race has seen yachts from 32ft to 120ft.

Originally the first races had a choice of which way to exit The Solent, either clockwise or anti-clockwise around the Isle of Wight. Recently the course was to head West past The Needles and continue down the English Channel. Yachts pass the Isles of Scilly to Port before crossing the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock, Ireland’s southern most point. Once around the Rock it’s time to head South East, again leaving the Isles of Scilly to Port. Once clear of the rocks, yachts sail along the Cornish coast before crossing the finish line in Plymouth Sound.

A 40ft yacht will complete the race in approximately 4-5 days, smaller yachts longer, bigger yachts quicker. The course record being 1day 4hours 2min achieved in 2019 by Edmond de Rothschild, a 32M maxi trimaran. The monohull record is held by Olympic and Round the World Yachtsman Ian Walker and his team on ‘Abu Dhabi’ a Volvo 65. These records and personal achievements can only be bettered if the race steers the same course.

Most who sail this classic course say, ‘never again’, most who say, ‘never again’ come back again and again. It’s gruelling, cold and often very wet with little or no sleep, yet we still do it.

The finish in Plymouth is everything. The thrill of passing the lighthouse at the end of the Breakwater at full pelt under kite is like no other finish in any other race in the world, except perhaps the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

The Finish

Plymouth The Historical City

In recent years, yachts finishing the Fastnet Race were berthed across the harbour in Yacht Haven Marina, Mount Batten. This location was favoured by RORC but was away from the city and the gaze of the general public. Now it’s time to return to the city side.

Win or lose, just completing the race is worthy of celebration. That focus will now return to the city centre Marinas at QAB and Sutton Harbour. This will bring a bigger and better reception for the yachtsman, more exposure for the sponsors and a chance for the public to see what thousands of tired but ecstatic sailors look like. Better access for friends and families is guaranteed with a host of nearby hotels and guest houses. Full details have yet to be finalised and will be based on the generous support received in many areas.

A lot of people, all volunteers, are working hard to ensure the restoration of the race and the return to the city side will align with what the competitors want. It also maximises sponsor exposure. QAB and Sutton Harbour lie along the old town known as the Barbican. Full of charm, restaurants, cafes, bars and history, Sutton was the original name for Plymouth and was developed around 700AD. It is where the Mayflower left for the America’s, it is Plymouth’s original harbour. Not just a party at the end, but a festival. More music, more fun, more friends and family. It’s the competitors, the yachts, those that take part, they are THE RACE.

This year sees the 400th anniversary of that voyage. Plymouth thrives in the summer with holidaymakers exploring the old harbour, the nearby Hoe and the wealth of history that surrounds it. We have a duty to all to ensure that everyone on and off the water, yachtsmen and the public, are able to celebrate a truly historic and heroic race. The Barbican is a spectacular region to host such an event.

Event Sponsors