Once in a Lifetime
By Louay Habib
|Celebrating her centenary, the winner of the first Fastnet Race in 1925, Pilot Cutter, Jolie Brise now sailed by pupils from Dauntsey’s School in Wiltshire. Credit: Rick Tomlinson|
Since 1925, the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s iconic 608-mile race around the Fastnet Rock has captured the hearts and souls of millions of people. This August, The Rolex Fastnet Race will have the largest number of participants in its 89-year history. Over 350 yachts, and as many as 380 yachts, from five continents and over 22 different countries will be taking part including the Pilot Cutter Jolie Brise, celebrating her centenary.
Built in 1913, Jolie Brise has participated in the Fastnet race four times, winning three races including the inaugural race in 1925. Her career as a pilot boat was short-lived, owing to steam replacing sail, she became a fishing boat for a time before being bought by E.G Martin in 1923, a founder member of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.
Evelyn George Martin met with a group of distinguished sailors, including Algernon Maudsley, to discuss an ocean race. Martin pulled a ten shilling note from his pocket, placed it on the desk and asked Maudsley if he would do the same. In that moment, the Ocean Racing Club was formed.
After some discussion a race ‘from Cowes round the Fastnet and back to Plymouth’ was announced for yachts not exceeding a waterline length of 50ft. Jolie Brise won the first race and also won in 1929 and 1930 and to this day, she is the only yacht to have won the race three times.