AT just 12-years-old, Zoë d’Ornano will be the youngest ever competitor in the Rolex Fastnet Race, when she competes with her parents on one of Tall Ships Youth Trust’s two Challenger 72 yacht entries next month.

This year’s race is set to break the record for entries, with more than 450 boats signed up for the 695 nautical-miles race. The race starts on Sunday 8th August, from Cowes on the Isle of Wight and will go round the Fastnet Rock in Irish waters before finishing for the first time in Cherbourg, on France’s northern coast.

Zoë, a dual British and French national, will sail on Challenger 2 with her parents, Philippe and Lay Koon, in a 16-strong Tall Ships Youth Trust (TSYT) internationally formed crew from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the USA. The diverse crew, which also features several notable yacht designers, is led by Sue Geary, a highly experienced skipper with TSYT’s sailing staff.

Zoë is leveraging the race to raise awareness of the charity’s work and aims to fundraise £10k to give 12 disadvantaged young people a life-changing experience at sea.

Recently, team Zoë took part in the RORC De Guingand Bowl Race, for their first qualifying race. She said: “We trained all week in the lead up to the race, which was fun, especially as I had the week off school, but it was also hard work. I slept well back home on Sunday night as we were racing throughout the night on Saturday. Thank you to everyone who has donated, we’ve hit over £8k!”

Zoë’s father, Philippe, is a Trustee on TSYT’s Board. He is proud of Zoë’s engagement with the campaign, her enthusiasm about the charity and her determination to pull her wait both onboard and ashore.

Philippe, said: “I am very proud of Zoe and the way she has embraced the Rolex Fastnet training/racing campaign and the opportunity to showcase the outstanding work Tall Ships Youth Trust is doing with young people. As a young person herself, a dual national and a bilingual English/French speaker she is the perfect flag bearer for TSYT on this campaign!”

Follow Zoë’s story on her JustGiving page.

For further information on the race and to watch the live start visit the Rolex Fastnet website

 Photo caption: Zoë and Skipper, Sue Geary.