As TH March’s Andrew Alcock’s Fastnet adventure on the high seas clearly demonstrates…
“An epic adventure and one of the toughest things I have ever done” is how keen yachtsman Andrew describes taking part in the world famous 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race at the beginning of August.
He was part of an eight man crew on the “Emma Claire”, a Grand Soleil 50 yacht, which completed the ocean race in an arduous ninety hours at sea.
‘The Fastnet Race’ is the famous biennial offshore yacht race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, named after the Fastnet Rock, which the race course rounds. This year, the 608 nautical mile race saw almost 400 yachts leave Cowes, Isle of Wight at lunchtime on Saturday 3 August for the Fastnet lighthouse, on the southwest tip of Ireland, before returning via the Isles of Scilly to the finish line in Plymouth.
“The whole crew found the race really hard going”, said Andrew. “After a smooth start at Cowes, the sea became very rough as we reached Land’s End and even worse as we turned to cross the Celtic Sea. Wind conditions meant we were “close hauled” on a single tack for the 24 hours, 140 mile crossing. This made the yacht extremely uncomfortable, both above and below deck.”
“We reached the Fastnet Rock at midnight on Monday, after 60 hours at sea, with the eerie pulse of the lighthouse breaking the stormy darkness. With the wind then behind us, the journey back to Plymouth was both faster and much more comfortable.”
“We were all elated when we reached the finish line in Plymouth around 7am on Wednesday morning. I was very pleased to see my wife, Helen, waving us in from Mountbatten pier and she welcomed us back with champagne”.
“It was an incredible adventure. Enjoyable is not how any of the crew would describe it, but it was fantastic all the same. As well as exhilarating sailing, we also saw an incredible amount of wildlife, with dolphin sightings on virtually every watch – including at Rame Head, just before the finish line. With very clear skies and no light pollution, night sailing also brought sightings of shooting stars and satellites, with the seas brimming with bio luminescence.”
“We have worked very hard for the race and have been preparing for a year. I am so pleased to have been part of the fantastic crew of Emma Claire. We were the 192nd yacht back, giving us an overall adjusted race result of 263rd.”
Andrew lives in Tavistock, Devon. He is TH March’s Chief Operating Officer and a Chartered Accountant who is also an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute.
Main post image ©Paul Wyeth