The Rolex Fastnet Race has been one of those races that has been on my list of “must dos” for quite some time. It’s a race steeped in history, and one that this year I have been lucky enough to take part in.
Thanks to our latest supporting sponsor HFW, we were off to the start line once again, and we were fortunate enough to be able to charter Normandie from the French team. HFW’s support has been incredible this year allowing us to get some very much appreciated mileage in, allow us the chance to take on some more races, as well as being able to train some of the HSR team for offshore racing.
Thankfully the run up to the race wasn’t anywhere near as stressful as it was last year with the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, and we had a full week with the boat to get everything packed and loaded, plus we had the advantage of having raced her before- so we knew all of her quirks and issues! My team really pulled together with everyone putting in hours all over the week to try and get everything up to standard, safe, and ready to go, and come Saturday morning, there was only the issue of getting a good breakfast in us before pushing out to the start of the 600 mile race.
Our start was pretty average to say the least, with us having committed to having the code zero up in the sky early, when we really should’ve flown the spinnaker for the run out of the solent- but such is life.
I personally was really thankful for the wonderful Steve from Rocket Rib Charters who bought all our family out for the start and to chase us as we left the solent, plus it meant we had an entire cool bag of homemade sausage rolls and flapjacks from my Mum 🙂
Leaving the Solent we had been really clear about which tidal gates we needed to make, not least of them Portland. Once we made that, the discussion of inshore/ offshore for the first night came into play. Looking at all the weather files we had, it seemed that offshore would be the option with the wind shutting down and later filling in from the W, so offshore we went.
Everyone settled in really well to the first night, I mean what’s not too love about moonlight sailing in warm, calm conditions!
Day 2 saw us heading for the Scilly Isles and working hard to pull back some of the places we lost overnight- the inshore had sadly paid! Once past the Scillies, we were in for a bumpy ride up to the rock with the wind coming around and eventually seeing us beat full into some massive waves, not only punishing Normandie, but ourselves as well. It’s no secret that I suffer with sea-sickness, but this trip, after one good vomit, I was up and running again, so I guess I should be thankful for that.
I cannot tell you the relief of seeing the rock in the distance, and also knowing that we would be rounding in daylight! I’ve been past this rock a few times now on races, but never around it, and also never seen anything other than its light as It’s always been night time…
We were also treated to a visit from a photo chopper that took some simply epic shots of us in action- thank you Carlo Borlenghi!
After rounding the rock, it was all downhill from there, and we were treated to some awesome reaching conditions pretty much all the way back to the Scillies and then on to Plymouth. We saw epic top boat speeds with the onboard competition to set the race top speed intensifying seeing Adam and Quentin quite often refusing to come off watch as they were enjoying themselves so much. (The top speed was 21 knots for those interested!), mixed with pods of dolphins, epic surfing sessions and genuine fun, feeling magical after the epically punishing slog up to the rock!
We finished the race after 2 days, 23 hours and a few minutes only to be met by Will on his paddle board in the middle of Plymouth harbour to bring us some celebratory gins- which were very much appreciated.
The race wouldn’t have been possible without our amazing sponsors and supporters, so a huge thank you to: HFW Law, Helly Hansen, Learning and Skills Solutions, Fuse Telecom, SunGod, Imray, Malcolm at DekMarx, Marlow and Tent Meals.
Also a huge personal thank you to all our our family who came out to see us off at the start on the Rocket Rib, and those that met us at the finish, or who followed us on the Yellow brick, sent us encouragement and support, and of course everyone who followed us on social media.
This year has been everything and nothing like I had planned, but if I have learnt one thing from the Fastnet, its that you keep pushing no matter what, you dream big and above all else, a little self belief goes a long long way…