Rolex Fastnet Race Archives

Blogs 2015

Crew member on GBR4778R EH01

The second day of the Rolex Fastnet and EH01 was greeted with a fantastic

sunrise to match the lovely sunset that rounded off the first day. Overnight

saw very light breezes and the crew did a great job transitioning from the

J2 to the A1 then another peel to the A2 this morning, well executed it has

to be said, and we are sure there will be more of these tactical sail

changes throughout the race keeping us all on our toes.

Overnight was tough, its hard to manoeuvre in light winds like a tiny little

fairy when you are dressed in so many layers you look like the michelin

man!! We did our best and hope it all helps in the race to the Fastnet rock

and on to Plymouth.

The reach on the A1 this morning was a welcome change to the drifting

overnight, (so bored were some that snoring could be heard on the rails!)

and we are now a few miles south of Start Point and the conversation has

shifted from ginger nuts to the weather GRIBS and what the weather may do in

the next few hours. The fleet has split with many heading inshore whilst we

maintain our routing slightly offshore.

The crew welcomed the distraction of sighting 3 dolphins as we sit in the

middle of a mill pond baking in the sunshine. Rail games have started, the

classic eye spy now surpassed by the more sophisticated "skipper went

shopping and bought?" unfortunately some on the list may cause offence to

those not from the UK.... I never would have thought that of a kit kat


The next few hours will bring some more light and sh**e winds so here's

hoping we can find a way through. It is currently scorchio on deck, so it's

with suns out guns out and we must away, we talkin' or are we racin'!

Crew member on GBR8883R Volunteer

*Volunteer's blog - Royal Naval Reserves' entry*

*Skipper’s entry*

Well, we started! Everyone talks so much about just ‘getting the boat over

the start line’ in terms of achievement that when it actually happens it’s

a bit of an anti-climax as it turns out. Very pleased to hear that we got a

good start as per TV Commentary (I mean, it’s on TV, so it must be true!!)

We floated gently across the start line, having chosen to cross at the

southern end, closest to the starting platform. This actually allows for

more precision over the line as you can judge the lights better. However,

what we really did get right was the drift time: with no wind at all we

were basically at the mercy of the current and had to be in exactly the

right spot at the time engines have to be shut off gracefully to glide

gracefully across on the starting gun. Too soon and you have to go back and

start again, which given the current and no wind is pretty impossible (or

at last very slow). Too late and you get caught up in the whole fleet

fighting their dirty air. Anyway, we started and got away into clean air on

the right side of the course and that’s a good thing!

The wind picked up a little and soon we were tacking down the Solent

criss-crossing the other boats and passing the smaller boats that had

started before us. Commanche cutting right across our stern was impressice,

if a little scary!

Right now we’re heading across Poole Bay, and we need to make St Albans

Head before the tide turns at 18:30. It’s 10 nm and we’re doing 7.8 over

the ground, although that will drop off… Wind is due to go north and drop

so we shall see where we get to. The team seem happy and are all on the

rail to keep the boat flat and fast (fast is good!): hot drinks are being

served so it is time to go and help them drink it!

*Sunday 2304*

*50 deg 15.714N 002deg 13.038W*

*Boat speed 3.2k*

Helena here: After Moroccan meatballs, we settled down into watches with

the girls (and Liam) getting their heads down for a couple of hours first.

The wind dropped and by the time we were back on watch at 2200 it was down

to around 4.5 knots, so we’re bobbing along trying to keep our speed from

dropping, along with hundreds of other boats. We’re currently being pushed

south with the tide, but should all be pushed back up again when it turns.

There’s some impressive snoring come from the other watch – another

downside of light winds, I guess, as usually you wouldn’t hear it so much

amidst other noise on board. We had some horribly-strong lemon squash, a

few jokes and a short rendition of ‘I feel it in my fingers’ from Tasha.

We’re doing 30 mins on the helm at a time, and likewise on the mainsheet at

the moment which is keeping us all awake and busy.

*Monday 0942*

*50 10’830N 003 32’.274W*

*Boat Speed 8.00 knts, SOG 6.1*

Update from Joseph (the skipper): Well that’s the first night done, light

winds and adverse tide pushed us towards the TSS off Casquets, but luckily

the tide turned in time for us to make our way across the top of it.

Several boats appear to have gone in, but we shall see. Unfortunately we

lost some ground on the fleet overnight, although they are still within

striking distance. The crew are happy (and snoring very loudly at the

moment for those off watch!). I'm about to come off watch and let P1 (Our

navigator) take over with the girl’s watch that’s up at the moment. On that

point, decided on the watches, it was purely based on dividing the

skillsets equally between them. It’s a big problem if all the skill on a

particular domain is on one watch, for example the bow 1 & 2, or the best

helms or trimmers. You invariably end up calling the people off watch on

deck during manoeuvres, meaning that they don’t get their sleep or into

rhythm. Not to say that sometimes when peeling a kite in a F6 you’re not

going to call all hands on deck, but you don’t want to do it for every sail

change or corner. So the watches were not divided into boy and girls but it

did turn out that way!

*Monday 11:24*

*50 10’.778N 003 46’.233W*

*Boat speed 7.2 knots, Wind speed 10 knots, Beautiful sunshine*

Catherine here: Well it is just about time for me to finish my watch and I

thought I would do my blog before getting some sleep. Looking forward to

the Cornish pasty for lunch first though although we are not quite off

Cornwall yet. We started the watch with very little wind and it was a

struggle to keep the yacht moving however we decided to put up the

asymmetric sail and once it was flying nicely we picked up a lot more

speed. As watchleader it was my job to make sure we rotated the roles

around and stayed focused so that we got up as much speed as possible.

With a gorgeous sun rise and then a beautiful sunny morning it was very

easy to forget it was a Monday morning and normally I would be at work now

in an office. How different and fantastic this is and it brings back great

memories of doing the Global Challenge ten years ago! The team always take

the mickey when I say “when I sailed around the world” but hopefully they

enjoy some of my stories! It is only day one but I think the team are

working fantastically well together. Helena and I prepared all the food

for the week and we have put some surprises in each of the meal bags just

to keep the troops morale high. It’s a surprise for us too as we never

remember what we put in the bags. Well it is time to do one last trim

before handing over to the other watch. Let’s just hope I get some sleep

this afternoon ready for the night watch later.

*Monday 22:45*

*50 11’911N 003 52’.989W*

*Boat Speed 7.2 knots, wind speed 4.5 Knots, Visibility excellent, weather

sunny, sea state flat*

Update from Joseph: It became a bit of a driftathon today as we head

towards the Eddystone lighthouse in what felt like a dead calm, belying the

actual 5 knots over the ground that we were making at times. Richard is on

the helm doing a great job of keeping the boat moving under the conditions.

The wind has filled in since though to about 10 knots on a beam reach as we

head towards Lizard Point. To those wondering, we had some debate about the

merits of inshore round the bay like the rest of the fleet seemed to be

doing, or tacking out offshore to find some wind and come up on the

predicted shift. We ended up tacking thrice as we were headed immediately

after the first tack. Glad we made the call though as soon after the wind

did shift as predicted. Our objective now is to get round the south of the

TSS off Lands End before the wind dies again... More on that later I'm

sure! (Before sending: the dip in our course was playing around with the

asymmetrical kite: couldn't hold the course with it though an we may need

it later, so not going to risk the broach)

Crew member on GBR1575L Pure Attitude

Day 3 on the Big Brother Boat!

Mandy is questioning the wisdom of spending 5 days on a 37ft yacht with 8


Pete is updating his Facebook status to 'Just got out of Bunk'

Billy is in the Diary Room accepting todays challenge - sail around a rock


A testing first 2 days, magnificent start experience in the company of the

world's top offshore yachts, seeing Comanche breeze past and Leopard and

Rambler 88 in tacking duel off the needles = spectacular.

Not such a quick ride for us and despite working hard for every headland

we still have some place making up to do.

Moral is high, the home made cakes for afternoon are going down a storm

and it's time to drift through The Scilly's and then heads down for a

breezy ride to the Rock and back.

Looking forward to a cold beer in Plymouth - see you there.

Billy (ships dogsbody) signing off.