Last night’s travel rules announcement means Fastnet Race competitors now have more options to stop in the start and finish ports of Cowes and Cherbourg.
With last night’s announcement by the British government that restrictions would be eased for visitors from France returning to the UK, competitors in the Rolex Fastnet Race now have increased options to stop in the start and finish ports of Cowes and Cherbourg.
Previously, due to France’s unique ‘Amber Plus’ designation, visitors to the UK coming from France had to quarantine upon their arrival.
The latest legislation will see France’s COVID status being downgraded to ‘Amber’ from 0400 on Sunday 8th August. – the start day for the Rolex Fastnet Race.
For the crews of the 355 participating yachts in the Rolex Fastnet Race this has two several welcome effects.
British competitors who are double-vaccinated can now stop in Cherbourg at the end of the race (where there is free berthing at Port Chantereyne) and then return home to the UK at their leisure, where they will no longer be required to quarantine.
Meanwhile, French and other non-British competitors who previously weren’t able to touch land in the UK prior to the start of the race will now be able to stop in Cowes (or elsewhere in the UK) prior to the start, from 0400 on Sunday morning, provided that their crew is double vaccinated.
For non-UK boats, stopping in the UK on Sunday morning may provide some welcome respite after what could be a tiring Channel crossing in 20+ knot south-westerlies.
Nonetheless, the RORC are still expecting non-UK competitors to complete their registration in Cherbourg.
“We are expecting between 150-180 registrations,” says Chris Stone, who is leading the team currently handling registration for the race in Cherbourg.
“That is a big change from what we anticipated originally when we thought we would have probably less than one third of the fleet registering here.”
The rule change also means that if any non-British teams opt to retire to an English port after the start, they will not face quarantine restrictions.
Any British boats who suffer gear damage and need to stop in Cherbourg after the finish to make repairs will also benefit from the change in new legislation.
Chris Stone, Race Director of the Rolex Fastnet Race welcomed the change in the rules: “The COVID restrictions relaxing in the UK comes as a great relief, even so close to start day. It is symbolic of a cross-Channel handshake, a coming-together of English and French competitors in a great sports event.
“It will definitely make the race more enjoyable for the crews – overseas crews can now stop in Cowes just before the start and we are expecting a greater portion of the fleet to stop in Cherbourg.
“It means we can achieve our vision for the Cherbourg Race Village with English competitors finishing and enjoying all the festivities there, which is a key part of this event.”
For the first time in its 96 years, the Rolex Fastnet Race will finish in Cherbourg where local government including the City of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, the Communauté d’agglomération du Cotentin, the Conseil départemental de la Manche and Région Normandie have agreed to support the finishes of the next two editions.
The Rolex Fastnet Race finish has been publicised extensively throughout France and the Normandy region. Sailing fans are expected to visit Cherbourg-Octeville where the boats are due to arrive from the evening of Monday 9th August and on for the rest of the week to see top French ocean racing boats, including the giant Ultime trimarans, IMOCAs and Class 40s.
“Already we are getting inundated by members of the public wanting to know about the race,” says Chris Stone.
“The race village in Cherbourg will open this Saturday, the day before the start. We have got a full kids entertainment program with the help from the local sailing school. There’s an outdoor cinema, plus a live entertainment schedule throughout the coming week culminating in a flyover by the Patrouille de France [French equivalent of the Red Arrows at 1700 on Friday 13th August] and then the prizegiving on the Saturday [1700 CEST 14th August].
“There is an enormous crew bar, endless eating options with lots of local produce including cidre and fromage.”
British crews wishing to disembark in Cherbourg can hand over their personal bags and spare sails to the Sevenstar baggage transportation service from Hamble Yacht Services on Saturday afternoon and from Cowes Yacht Haven on the morning of Sunday 8. For a small fee, bags are transported effortlessly to the Race Village in Cherbourg where crews can get their dry clothes.
Unfortunately for British crews arriving in France where not everyone is double vaccinated, France still requires unvaccinated UK visitors to self-isolate. “This is clearly not what we wanted for our unvaccinated competitors, however French Customs officials remain happy for those unvaccinated crews to remain on their boats in the marina,” comments Chris Stone.
The message for British crew considering stopping in Cherbourg is, according to Chris Stone: “Bring your passport and your proof of vaccination. It is okay to bring your boat in and there is space in the marina for everyone.”
Fastnet travel rules: RORC guidance to competitors
• Competitors who are double vaccinated entering the UK from France will no longer have to quarantine. Latest regulations and requirements can be found on the UK government website at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/red-amber-and-green-list-rules-for-entering-england
• British participants wishing to enter France at the finish must have their passport, and prior to the start of the race should download their proof of vaccination (from the NHS app) and print out, complete and sign the following declaration:
• Follow the race on yachtingworld.com
• Further information see www.rolexfastnetrace.com
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