WEYMOUTH sailor Kathy Claydon will join 4,000 competitors in around 400 boats from 29 different countries in the world’s largest offshore race – the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, organised by the Royal Ocean racing Club (RORC).

The legendary race sets sail from Cowes, Isle of Wight on Sunday, August 6 and will showcase the most diverse range of yachts imaginable; from 30ft to 130ft and attracts aspiring sailors to professional crews who race all over the world.

Claydon first started sailing in 2003 but fast forward through five fully-crewed Fastnet Races and she is tackling the race double-handed.

She said: “I’d sailed double-handed in a Contessa 32 but it was after competing in the Round Ireland Race last year that Phil and I decided to do it in Arcsine.”

Her co-skipper, Phil Kirk, holds the record for the fastest circumnavigation of mainland Britain in a sailing dinghy and he has longtime crewed for Kathy on Arcsine – having done three Fastnets with her previously.

For Claydon, this race has greater significance – it provides the challenge on the horizon that has helped her focus through recent cancer surgery in March.

Racing two-handed makes for a much more difficult race.

She added: “Everything depends on the weather as for what will end up being the biggest challenge but generally it is managing sleep and energy levels which is trickiest.

“We’ll also be competing against fully crewed yachts as well as the double-handed fleet, so making successful navigational decisions and maintaining good speed in all conditions is essential.

“We’ll be pacing ourselves throughout the whole race.”

The entry list makes for impressive reading, both in its scale, diversity and quality of the fleet taking part, confirming the Rolex Fastnet Race’s position as the world’s biggest and most popular offshore race, by far.

Now in its 47th year, the race started with seven boats in 1925 and nowadays, sailors worldwide are drawn by the history and sporting lure of the greatest offshore contest. The challenging 605 mile race from Cowes to the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland and back around the Scilly Isles to Plymouth, is now by far the biggest of all the international 600 mile offshore races.

Also sailing in the race are Shillingstone’s Chris Clark (Fireball First 40.7), Dominic Chapell (Maverick V Swan 42 Club), from Blandford and Poole trio Jason Ralph (Jalapeno Standfast), James Dobie (Kira Swan) and Stuart Rhys-Williams (Taika J/105).