The FAST40+ Class rules allow a maximum of five professional crew racing. This creates a wide variety of sailors from all backgrounds; world class experienced sailors, as well as young talent looking to break into the sport, and just about everything in between. Tim Powell will be a key member of Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán Racing, which is joining the FAST40+ Class this year. Rán Racing is one of the most successful yacht racing teams in the modern era, having won the Rolex Fastnet Race and RORC Caribbean 600, as well as the TP52 and Maxi72 World Championships.
“We have been watching the FAST40+ Class, it’s exciting and raced in good size boats for the Solent.” commented Tim. “Recently Rán has been racing in the Maxi72 Class and 52 Super Series where the average age of the crew is probably well into the 40s, and there is no real pathway for the younger generation. For the FAST40+ Class, Niklas decided on a youth orientated team, so we are looking to have many of the crew in the 20-23 age range, and aim to have less than the class limit on professionals. We haven’t raced as a team yet, so it’s too early to name the whole crew but we have young talent with enthusiasm and the right attitude, mixed with experienced sailors running sections of the boat.
Crew will come from the RYA British Keelboat Academy and by word of mouth. Justin Slattery will be running the pit and oversee the bow. I (Tim Powell) will be on the mainsheet running the trimming loop. Adrian Stead will be calling tactics and looking after strategy. Steve Hayles will be running the back of the boat and coaching Tom Needham, who will be the navigator. Tom was the young navigator on Lisa, RORC champion for the last two seasons. This is a whole new and different challenge for Rán. Niklas and all the professional sailors will get great satisfaction if we can help these younger sailors develop into long term members of the team, or go on to race at the very top of our sport. Rán Racing has entered the RORC Easter Challenge, it will be touch and go to get the boat ready but that is our aim.”
Rán’s Tom Needham is one of numerous FAST40+ crew in their twenties. 25 year-old Duncan Yeabsley has been part of Peter Morton’s Girls on Film for the last two seasons. Personal Trainer Duncan has sailed out of Christchurch Sailing Club since he was three with his two elder brothers. Both of whom he still sails with onboard the Quarter Tonner ‘Illegal’.
“Most of my sailing has been on Etchells, XOD’s, Quarter Tonners and J/70s.” Commented Duncan. “In recent years, I’ve competed in a lot of keelboat team racing for the Royal Thames YC. As well as sailing for them in Cape Town onboard the Cape 31’s. We came second to Girls on Film, I had to let them win obviously! Racing with Girls on Film is awesome. The stand out for me was 12 boats on the start line for the One Ton Cup last September, which proved for some close racing. At the moment, it is the closest most youngsters can get to grand prix racing like the TP52 class. Of course, I can’t forget to mention the hospitality from Morty and Louise is incredible and makes all the difference.”
Glaswegian Physiotherapist Kirsty Coupland has been racing with Steve Cowie’s Team Zephyr for many years before the Scottish team joined the FAST40+ Class.
“First and foremost, it is fun, both on board and after racing!” commented Kirsty. “The majority of the crew have sailed together for many years, some for over 30. I am a relative newcomer to the team having only sailed with them for 7 years, so it’s safe to say we know each other pretty well. This makes for a relaxed and supportive atmosphere. The boats are very physical, so I have worked on my fitness and functional strength. As a team, we have benefitted hugely from coaching as well as good old-fashioned time on the water.”
North Sails’ Nick Bonner will be calling tactics for James Neville’s Ino XXX for the 2018 season. Nick has been racing in the class with Mike Bartholomew’s Tokoloshe II for two years, and has huge experience both inshore and offshore.
“Nervous anticipation about the season.” commented Nick. “ Rán will up the level but we didn’t see the full potential of Girls on Film last year and Rebellion and Hitchhiker look like they will be stronger. However, the class is so close that if anyone makes a mistake on the short windward leeward races, it is very difficult to recover, and the longer round the cans races give many more options for gains and losses. There are great battles right through the fleet and anyone can win a race. Boat handling is really important, and something we will take into other IRC regattas. Ino xxx and Tokoloshe are set for the RORC IRC European Championship, which should be a great event. Ino xxx will be taking part in a full RORC offshore season, and the intensity and the level required in FAST40+ races will be great to take offshore.”