Devon

Historic Fastnet race will no longer end in UK

Boats
Image caption The 2019 Fastnet had a waiting list of 150

The UK will no longer host the end of a gruelling yacht race for the first time in nearly 100 years.

Organisers of the Fastnet race have said finishing in Cherbourg, France, instead of Plymouth will allow more people to take part.

The biennial challenge was 608 miles (1,126 km) from Cowes, Isle of Wight, to the Fastnet lighthouse off Ireland, and then back to Plymouth.

Plymouth City Council said it was "beyond disappointed".

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) said the 2019 race had 388 yachts and a waiting list of 150.

RORC said Cherbourg would host the finish of the 2021 and 2023 editions of the race - a decision that adds around an extra 90 miles to the course.

Image caption Seven boats finished the inaugural race in 1925

Competitors will also have to cross the English channel, which is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

RORC Commodore, Steven Anderson, said: "We have had to limit entries in recent years because of berthing constraints, but Cherbourg offers significant additional berthing and improved facilities for competitors, so we will be able to ... give more sailors the opportunity to compete in this very special race."

Royal Western Yacht Club Commodore Chris Arscott said changing the route made it a different race, which arguably should not be called Fastnet.

Mr Arscott said his club has hosted the finish since 1925 and added there had been some backlash among competitors.

"To me it is about the tradition of the whole thing, it is not about the commercialisation," he said.

In a statement the council said Plymouth was "part of the race's DNA" and added: "Hosting the race was not something we took for granted and we worked extremely hard to keep the race in recent years against some fierce competition."

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