Admiral’s Cup to return in 2025 (with a Fastnet finish)

Admiral’s Cup to return in 2025 (with a Fastnet finish)

The historic Admiral’s Cup – for many the unofficial ‘world cup’ for offshore racing – which ran from 1957-1999 is set to return in 2025 having last been sailed in 2003

The Admiral’s Cup, formerly the most prestigious offshore/inshore regatta in the world, is scheduled to return in 2025, the Royal Ocean Racing Club announced today.

Few events make big boat sailors as misty-eyed as the Admiral’s Cup. First held in 1957 it took place biennially until 1999, and in its heyday saw as many as 19 countries competing in three-boat teams. After numbers dwindled it was cancelled in 2001, then flickered back into life in 2003 before the 2005 Admiral’s Cup was cancelled and has not run since.

The Admiral’s Cup. Photo: Matthew Dickens / Imagecomms

However, today’s announcement confirms that RORC is planning to run the event biennially once again, with the next event provisionally due to start on 19 July, 2025.

Widely considered the unofficial ‘world cup’ for offshore racing the Admiral’s Cup format traditionally saw international teams compete out of Cowes on the Isle of Wight, UK. Iconic entries have included Ted Heath with Morning Cloud, Eric Tabarly on Pen Duick III, and Bob Oatley with Wild Oats, while the crew lists read like a who’s who of America’s Cup, Olympic sailing and Whitbread Around the World Race talent.

The regatta’s courses featured inshore racing in the Solent, a Channel Race, and – famously – until 1999 the regatta included the 608-mile Rolex Fastnet Race. RORC has confirmed that they will continue this tradition, with three days of inshore racing and two short offshores scheduled before the fleet joins the 2025 Rolex Fastnet Race starting on 26 July.

Teams will consist of two boats, representing either a yacht club or a country, with Class 1 yachts of 44-56ft, and Class 2 yachts from 36-44ft.

Prime Minister Edward at the wheel of Morning Cloud at the start of the Fastnet Race for the 1973 Admirals Cup. Photo: Popperfoto/Getty

“Bringing back the Admiral’s Cup is a wonderful way to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Ocean Racing Club,” commented James Neville, Commodore of RORC, which was founded in 1925.

“The chosen format for the 2025 Admiral’s Cup respects the tradition of the regatta, as well as choosing IRC Classes for boats that are competing offshore at the top level internationally. By announcing over two years before the start of the Admiral’s Cup, teams will have time to prepare for a fantastic event. The RORC aim is to attract teams from all over the world for the 2025 Admiral’s Cup.”

Director of the RORC Rating Office, Jason Smithwick explained the rating bands for the eligible yachts. “The Admiral’s Cup Class IRC rating band and length range have been carefully selected to allow as many boat types to be eligible, while maintaining a compact group for each class in terms of performance and also size constraints for racing in the Solent and adjacent waters. The rating bands are purposely aimed to produce close racing so boats experience similar conditions throughout the wide range of races in the Admiral’s Cup.

The Mumm 36 Barlow Plastics (the campaign which many top young British big boat sailors made their name on) competing in the 2001 Admiral’s Cup. Photo: Bluegreen Pictures / Alamy

“For Admiral’s Cup Class 1 there are the bigger boats with a length above 44ft, (13.41m) up to 56ft (17.20m), this range encompasses boats like the Cookson 50 and ubiquitous highly competitive IRC 52/TP 52 fleet as examples.
“The modest sized boats in Admiral’s Cup Class 2 ranges in length from 36ft (11.00m) up to 44ft (13.40m) and has many boat options with comparatively high performance, such as the MAT 1180, J/125, GP42, and Ker 46.”

RORC Racing Manager Steve Cole added: “With a mixture of tight inshore racing and the challenge of offshore racing, culminating in the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Admiral’s Cup will deliver exciting racing.

“There will be no limitations on professional crew, but in addition, the RORC will continue our drive for inclusivity in yacht racing by amending the IRC crew numbers for the event to allow one additional crew member, if a boat has two women or two under 25-year-old sailors, or a combination.”

The Royal Ocean Racing Club will be writing to all the major yacht clubs around the globe, inviting them to enter a team, as well as inviting expressions of interest from proposed Admiral’s Cup teams before the Pre-Notice of Race, which will be issued on 19 July 2023.

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