Young sailing crew complete the Rolex Fastnet Race 2023

By Kate Stewart - August 4th, 2023 | Posted in News No comments

On Thursday 27 July, a crew of young people between the ages of 17 and 23 crossed the finish line of the prestigious Rolex Fastnet Race in Cherbourg, racing on behalf of Tall Ships youth Trust (TSYT).

The Rolex Fastnet Race is an iconic biennial offshore yacht race that attracts sailors from around the world to navigate its demanding course, which takes them from Cowes, Isle of Wight, to the city of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin in France, via the Fastnet Rock, the most southerly point of Ireland.

The race, which started from the Royal Yacht Squadron on Saturday 22 July is celebrating its 50th edition this year.

For TSYT, this popular event represents a unique chance to showcase its commitment to transforming the lives of young individuals through adventurous sailing experiences. The charity entered three of its four Challengers into the race this year.

TSYT is a youth development and outdoor learning charity that helps disadvantaged young people aged 12 to 25 to redefine their horizons through life-changing adventures at sea.

The charity has a fleet of four 72ft Challenger yachts and a 55ft ketch, which operate all year round, providing more than 1,000 young people with a transformational voyage each year.

TSYT’s youth crew, racing on board Challenger 4 was made up of 12 young people who had previously voyaged with the charity and been recommended to return as a volunteer Watch Leader. Their participation was made possible by a group of enthusiastic fundraisers on board Challenger 2, who have so for raised more than £47k, exceeding their original target to cover the cost of their entry. The additional funds raised will support even more young people to benefit from a life-changing voyage.

The first 24 hours of the 2023 edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race saw more than 80 yachts retire due to gale-force winds and rain, but TSYT’s three entries weathered the storm and powered through the ‘brutal’ first night.

TSYT CEO, Alastair Floyd who participated alongside the youth crew on board Challenger 4, said: “It was a very challenging race even for the adult crews, so we are extremely proud of our young people for persevering through the night watches, challenging weather, and seasickness to complete the race.

“Challenging sailing opportunities like the Fastnet Race are a key component of our new three-voyage programme, which aims to provide long-term support for our young people, and for some, this can lead to careers in the maritime sector.” 

Challenger 4 completed the 695-nautical mile course in 5 days, 2 hours, 18 minutes and 15 seconds. In class IRC 1A, this placed the youth crew in seventh place.

TSYT youth crew member, Emma Chandler (20), said: “The biggest highlight has to have been crossing the finish line with the whole team on deck. The applause that erupted when we heard the beep come over the radio felt like a huge celebration of everything we were able to achieve as a team.”

To learn more about Tall Ships Youth Trust’s life-changing work, visit:

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