AST and Osprey Supply Winning Vessel of the Rolex Fastnet Race with Iridium Certus

August 26, 2021

Yachting Journal

Sunrise, JPK 11.80 of Britain's Tom Kneen has been crowned overall winner of the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race © Paul Wyeth/

Applied Satellite Technology and Osprey Technical Consulting Ltd worked closely together to ensure Tom Kneen’s JPK 11.80 350 Cruiser, Sunrise, was equipped with the latest Iridium Certus 200 terminal in preparation for the 49th Rolex Fastnet Race, which took place from August 8-12, 2021.

The Rolex Fastnet Race is the world’s largest and toughest offshore yacht race. With teams covering 695 nautical miles over five days, this prestigious Atlantic Ocean race requires speed and precision to win. Named after Fastnet Rock, which the racecourse rounds, the Rolex Fastnet race has proven to be highly influential in offshore racing as well as having close links to advances in yacht technology, design, sailing technique and equipment.

Navigating the racecourse requires skills and reliable communication, with the courses path taking the vessel in and out of GSM range, a fail-safe solution was required. Due to its compact size and powerful capability, the Thales VesseLink with Iridium Certus broadband was the obvious choice.

Speaking about the terminal onboard the vessel, Suzy, co-navigator (Osprey), said, “I think it’s pretty great! It was easy to install and use, compact and lightweight. The Thales VesseLINK 200 gave us the insight we needed to win the Rolex Fastnet Race. It meant we could get weather gribs and race tracker positions throughout the race, even whilst out of range of 4G. We knew where everyone else was and had a pretty good idea of what weather we were about to get, which was a huge advantage for this race, which we didn’t have for previous Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) races.”

Despite facing challenges early in the race, the crew aboard Sunrise successfully managed to use the onboard technology to get back on track, and ultimately win the race!

Tom Cheney, co-navigator, said, “The sat comms system was definitely the key to us winning the Rolex Fastnet Race. The hardware was great, and I don’t think we’d have hit the shifts in the Irish Sea or pushed as hard to go east after the Scillies on the way back if we hadn’t had as much visibility of the forecast that we did.”