Rolex Fastnet Race Archives

Blogs 2009

Crew member on GBR1002L Heartbeat 3 of Burnham 2

Sue Pelling's Blog from yacht Heartbeat III of Burnham, issued at1530 on Tuesday12 August 2009

We've had an interesting time over the last two days, since we sent ourfirst report. Sunday night -  our first night - we struggled to reachPortland Bill lighthouse and after at least eight hours we finally setsail again, but not until about 0400 when a 8-10kt breeze filled in fromthe west.

Once round Land's End we hit a fresher breeze heading north to avoid theTSS, and stayed on starboard tack, sailing to the left-hand side of therumb line. All the boats we were in fairly close contact with aroundLand's End however, disappeared, and as the wind continued to fill infurther and further into the Irish Sea, we found ourselves totally alone.Even at night, when it's often easier to spot nav lights on the horizon,there was no one to be seen. That was, however, until we were joined by100s of playful dolphins who skipped around, weaving their way through ourbow wave keeping us entertained for well over half an hour.

Just as all of us were settling into life on board, and enjoying the big,rolling wave experience of the Irish Sea, our battery power failed leavingus in complete darkness with no instruments, and now way of communicatingby e-mail. Thankfully we have co-helmsman Clive White, who is also atalented marine engineer, onboard who managed to skilfully rebuild theelectronic system and after a few hours we were back on track again. Wepicked up the forecast backing wind which meant we were able to stay onport tack most of the way to the Rock.

The wind continued to build throughout the day on Tuesday reaching 24ktsat times and this, coupled with the big sea, made for a fairlyuncomfortable night for everyone. The temperature dropped too, and crewtiredness began to take its toll. A 10ft whale (actually it was aporpoise!) 20 metres away on Tuesday evening livened up the Port Watchcrew which meant Judy Payne James and I spent the rest of the night 'whale watching', and of course, watching out for other boats, because atthis time (Tuesday night) we'd still not seen another boat.

Although we are working on a strict four hours on, four hours off watchsystem, which works really well, tiredness among the crew was reallybecoming noticeable. A good night's sleep as the boat pitches and rolls,is definitely not in the schedule, in fact to describe it, it wouldn't betoo far from the truth to say it's like sleeping in a fast spin washingmachine. Nevertheless, we all feel a bit wrecked but we all still havesmiles on our faces and, when we rounded the Fastnet Rock at 1115 thismorning (Wednesday), the struggle to get here was made all worth while. Itreally is a magical, yet mysterious place but we were however, a littledisappointed not to see anyone cheering us on from the lighthouse thisyear. That certainly would have made even more special.

Anyway, as we rounded the Rock the wind was still up in the 20kt zone andwe cracked off slightly to make Pantaenius - the spacer mark - a furthersix miles on. We were joined by dolphins again here who seemed to enjoyleaping around our bow wave as we rounded mark, hoisted the kite andpowered off downwind. We're now currently enjoying the most glorioussleigh ride in the big rolling seas back towards Land's End.

As far as food goes, well, our good Kiwi fried Roger Temple has beenkeeping us well stocked up 24-7, and I honestly don't think I've eaten somuch in my life, and it's all been good too, None of that nastyfreeze-dried stuff that I was secretly dreading!

We now have 125 miles to go to Bishops Rock and if we keep up 8-10kts ofboat speed we're currently clocking up downhill, our predicted eta is 15hours.

Crew member on GBR4778R EH01

At around 0530 this morning with approximately 58NM to go to the Fastnet Rock EH01 suffered catastrophic mainsail damage with the failure of the sail just below the the top batten resulting in a luff to leach split and the head coming completly off the sail.

To say we as a crew are somewhat disapointed would be an understatement however we have chosen to continue the race and not give up. Currently under #1 and storm trysail we are making around 7kts in roughly the right direction with and ETA at the rock of 1630 today. We are going to have a go at cobbling together a mainsail to go downwind with, failing that we'll hoist everything else we have on every available halyard - we wont be last!

Crew moral is still good and not one single member of the crew wanted to retire, we intend to finish no matter what as the beer will definately taste better! If any further news comes up we'll let you know.

Andy Middleton
(disapointed) skipper EH01

Crew member on 27 Hot Socks

So the Fasnet race has changed face somewhat from a driftathon to a slamathon. Sailing upwind is never that much fun but sailing upwind in a figaro II for 3 days is a real test of patience! Soggy doesn't come close to describing both boat and its 2 crew, the talc has even had to be deployed in an attempt to dry out damp derriers (with not much success I hasten to add). Oh the glamour of life on the ocean wave.

Ok so last time we reported a string of disasters that had plagued us even before the race began so today we bring you a resounding success story, as well as a couple of minor problems but we would be lying if we told you it was all going swimmingly out here! In a brief spell of nice weather early Tuesday morning, we deemed it suitable conditions to crawl into the back of the boat and remove the offending ballast pump that had stubonly refused to work. This was after exhausting all other options to jump start it back into life including hard wiring it to the batteries (a few sparks went flying in that attempt). After taking the thing to pieces we have diagnosed it with death due to drowning, not good news. With more wind forecast and the need for ballast imminent, Hannah set to work with a fierce determination to turn the stirrup pump and a length of hose cut from the bilge pump into something that could draw said ballast. 15 minutes later and with the aid of a hacksaw, some emergency repair tape and the essential ingredient to all boat repairs, good old gaffer tape, we are proud to introduce 'Big Bertha'. This legendary device involves lowering the hose over the side of the boat whilst the output pipe of the stirrip pump gets wedged down the ballast overflow pipes on deck. You pump like crazy for about 10 minutes and there you have it - ballast!!! Simple but highly effective. Big Bertha then really came into her own, after the removal of the electric ballast pump and in our excitement over our new creation we had completely forgotten that the scoop was still down. This resulted in rather a large volume of water entering the boat and momentarily had us thinking we might just be doing a spot of sinking, (we might both be brunette but we are still allowed blond moments when tired). All sorted now.

This mornings fun has involved being chased by a guard ship for a vessel towing seismic gear. The on deck VHF sounds like someone talking in a fish tank so we hadn't heard their call. Katie then spoke to a very nice chap who whilst obviously concerned that we didn't become an involunatry part of the seismic survey was more keen to make sure we could get back on our course asap as he appreciated that we were in a race! And finally for today we bring you the tale of the great spoon hunt. There are or should we say were 4 spoons on board, essential for the consumption of the delightful freeze dried food. Unfortunately the spoons don't seem to like staying where they are meant to which involves a major hunt every meal time. This morning however we have discovered that the best way to hunt a spoon is to exercise a little patience. Sit at the nav seat for long enough and one is sure to come floating by!

That's it for now but fingers crossed we will get round the rock tonight and no we are not at all jealous of the crews from the big fast boats who are all home and dry...ok maybe a little bit...

Crew Member on Dasher Gbr1204

Top of the mornin to u! Apparently this is france...

News from the dash...

Leroy's musto drybag doesnt fit, so refuses to come on deck. Skip tried to warm the valves in the weatherfax to find the antenna was connected to the stereo speaker, boat enquiry later.... Jury still out on historic or classic but happy to be on a such a fine 70's (man) yacht!