Oystercatcher XXXIII prepares for Rolex Fastnet Race at Fox’s
The crew of Oystercatcher XXXIII are looking forward to the start of the bi-annual Rolex Fastnet Race, which starts from the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes Saturday, 3 August.
Richard Matthews acquired the Ker 51 yacht from her Dutch owner last December and is her third owner. This Ker 51 one-off racing yacht is already well known on the ocean racing circuit as Varuna and Tonnerre 4 and has already taken part in the Sydney Hobart Race, Transpac and Transatlantic races.
Her previous owner had retired from sailing and the yacht had been laid up for over a year before arriving at Fox’s Marina & Boatyard by road for re commissioning. Work has included topside and underwater painting, exchanging the keel bulb and re installation of keel, rudder and steering system. Repairs to composite standing rigging and rewiring and upgrading her electronics. Fox’s also undertook modifications to the carbon mast to accommodate a reaching strut and fitted B&G plotters at the steering pedestals in custom housings made by Fox’s.
Oystercatcher has been taking part in some East Coast East Anglian Offshore racing Association (EAORA) races as part of her work up towards the Fasnet and already has four overall wins this season. This will be Richard’s 23rd Fastnet race and he is generally considered to be the most experienced Fastnet skipper in this year’s 360 yacht fleet. It is also the 40th anniversary of the force 11 storm, which hit the Fastnet Fleet in 1979 with the loss of 17 lives.
Commenting to BBC TV, who are producing an anniversary feature on the 1979 Fastnet, Richard said:
“What happened in the ’79 race was, in my opinion, almost entirely due to a lack of accurate weather forecasting. No one expected the storm that hit the fleet that night, conditions that I’ve never seen before or since and don’t want to see again. Forecasting is much more reliable today and yachts and crews are generally better prepared, making offshore racing a little safer than it was back in 1979.”
Oystercatcher has now been sold to an American owner and will be shipped to Newport Beach, California later this year. Richard commented:
“We love the boat but her 12 foot 3 inch draft is really impractical for the UK’s East Coast, the next boat, whatever it is, will be smaller with fewer crew and a lot less draft! Meanwhile the goal for the Fastnet will be to sail well but above all enjoy the sail and get home safely.”