James Harayda, skipper of Gentoo is currently making the final preparations alongside friend and French co-skipper Stéphane Le Diraison before they embark on this thrilling race onboard ‘Gentoo’, one of the 30 IMOCA boats amongst the 467 strong fleet.
“I’m really excited to be joining James for the 2023 Fastnet race. I’ve covered over 80,000 nautical miles onboard this brilliant IMOCA so this, combined with his skill and experience, between us we know this boat pretty well. The forecast is unpredictable and ever changing which will bring its own challenges so we’ll need to be as well prepared and as ahead of the game tactically as possible!” says Le Diraison.
Since it began in 1925, the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race is renowned as one of the most challenging and iconic offshore sailing races, attracting some of the best skippers from across the globe. Covering approximately 695 nautical miles, starting from Cowes and taking participants through the treacherous waters of the Celtic Sea, rounding the iconic Fastnet Rock, before the final leg to Cherbourg, France where the race finishes.
Growing up in Singapore, James’ passion for sailing ignited at a young age, spending his weekends exploring and racing around the tropical island in various dinghies and keelboats. Fast forward 12 years and James has competed in many of the worlds largest offshore races and in the process becoming a two-time British Double Handed National Champion with teammate Dee Caffari.
(Dee Caffari and James Harayda in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race / image: John Green Cowes)
As the youngest skipper in the IMOCA class at just 25, rising star James has already impressed and carved a name for himself within the fleet, including the Défi-Azimut and Route du Rhum. Both of these events are lead-up races to his ultimate ambition; the 2024 Vendée Globe. In November 2024, a start gun will sound and James will embark on the toughest challenge available to mankind racing around the world, non-stop, by himself, navigating some of the most extreme and remote parts of the world.
“The Fastnet is such an iconic race for all sailors. For me, it’s got the added importance of being part of the IMOCA Globe Series. It will also be the first time Stéphane and I line-up for an offshore race together as part of the double-handed events this year. I’m feeling confident with the boat and the preparation we’ve put into Gentoo this season, the whole team deserves a big thank you for this! Now it’s time to get back on the race course and give them something back!” - James Harayda, Skipper and Team Principal of Gentoo
As James sets sail this weekend alongside some of the world's most seasoned sailors, he remains undaunted by the challenges that lie ahead. The Fastnet Race is renowned for its unpredictable weather conditions and complex navigation, however James has already demonstrated his ability to tackle these challenges…
Don’t forget to track Gentoo’s progress during the 50th Fastnet Race via the online tracker - find out more here: www.rolexfastnetrace.com/en/competitors/race-documents/fleet-tracking