Over the last 21 years, our Long Distance catamaran race has evolved into a well-balanced test of catamaran racing skills, attracting top national helms as well as experienced club racers and international entries. Laid out in hub and spoke format, with each leg returning through a gate near the club, the full course covers 85 kilometres in estuary, coastal and open sea conditions, and provides racing at all points of sailing. The flexibility of this format differentiates the Forts Race from other marathon events.
- It can be shortened for all competitors if winds are light.
- It can be shortened for smaller cats, to provide similar duration of racing.
- The course can be changed if conditions change.
- The risk of cancellation is reduced as it is easier to manage.
- Competitors can retire on passing through the gate each round.
- Support craft can be rapidly re-deployed where needed in emergency.
As different conditions favour different types of catamaran, there are separate categories of prizes for modern fast three sail cats with spinnakers, smaller two-handed cats and qualifying classes. There’s also a Short Race prize. Only boats that select the Short Race will be competing for this prize, allowing boats that want to be out on the water for less time, but also experience this exciting event, be in with a chance of the prizes. The list of eligible classes has been revised down to and including Dart 18 Two-Up but nothing slower. Faster single-handers may now take part, but must contact Whitstable Yacht Club in advance to confirm eligibility.
The Forts Race is sponsored by Vattenfall, one of the biggest wind power operators in the UK, who have a base in Whitstable supporting the Kentish Flats Offshore Wind Farm.