The 1979 Fastnet race was the twenty-eighth Fastnet race, a yachting race held generally every two years since 1925 on a 605-mile course from Cowes direct to the Fastnet Rock and then to Plymouth via south of the Scillies. In 1979, it was the climax of the five-race Admiral’s Cup competition, as it had been since 1957.
A worse-than-expected storm on the third day of the race wreaked havoc on over 306 yachts taking part in the biennial race, resulting in 18 fatalities (15 yachtsmen and 3 rescuers). Emergency services, naval forces, and civilian vessels from around the west side of the English Channel were summoned to aid what became the largest ever rescue operation in peace-time. This involved some 4,000 people including the entire Irish Naval Service’s fleet, lifeboats, commercial boats, and helicopters.
The story of the Force 10 gale which decimated the 1979 Fastnet race, the last of the Admiral’s Cup events in that year. A massive search and rescue operation was begun as half of the 300 yachts competing went missing in a 20,000 area square of the Irish Sea. The death toll was 15, and the ramifications are still felt today with the increased safety requirements introduced in the aftermath
Director: Nat Sharman
Series-producer: Greg Lanning
Scriptwriter, Writer: Christabelle Dilks