With only 57 days left until the start of the Fastnet Race, the Lagoon Watersports Racing Team took on their third, and toughest, race of the 2013 Fastnet Campaign. The De Guingand Bowl is a 120-mile race from Cowes, Isle of Wight, over to Guernsey in the Channel Islands. With a solid Force 8 predicted there was no question that they were going to be in for a bumpy ride!
Crew member Sarah Rossiter was onboard;
It’s pretty well known that you don’t usually go out for a sail when there is a Force 8 predicted. However I am new to the world of offshore racing and one of the main reasons I signed up to do the Fastnet was to go out of my comfort zone and experience the more extreme side of sailing. And experience it we did on the De Guingand Race at the start of June!
The first few hours of the race, which started on Friday afternoon, were fantastic. Charging down the Western Solent and out through the Needles in bright sunshine, sparring with boats on either side of us, all working hard to keep ahead of the fleet.
The weather started to change at about 8pm that evening and got progressively worse over night. As I came back on deck for the midnight watch, squall after squall started to come in, rendering everything pitch black around us. This was, of course!, right at the point we started to cross the busy shipping channels. We reefed right down and had our smallest headsail up, all we could do was try and keep our eyes peeled, being extra careful not to ruin our night vision with torches or light from down below on the boat.
At 4am the sky suddenly cleared and it was one of the most beautiful and brightest stellar shows I have ever seen. The brightest stars had a thick curtain of distant constellations behind them, more dazzling than I had ever seen before. It made the proceeding hours of pitch black and heavy rain seem worth it.
Early Saturday morning we caught our first glimpse of the north shore of Guernsey. By this point the sea state was pretty rough, 6 to 8 meter waves and winds up to 35 knots. It was uncomfortable on board to say the least, and we still had a long hard slog upwind in front of us. But everyone worked together to sail our boat as hard as we could and we slowly beat our way around Hanois Lighthouse
At 1pm we caught sight of St Peter Port – a very welcome sight for absolutely everyone on board. As we radioed up the RORC Race officials, ‘Ocean One’ to let them know we had crossed the finish line we all smiled as they said they were very glad to hear from us, and wished us the best hospitality that Guernsey had to offer.
There was such a buzz between the whole crew as we debriefed over our pints that evening, stories of rouge waves becoming more extreme and squalls more ferocious! We all returned the next day unsure quite how to explain our weekend to work colleagues, and not feeling the same people or crew who had set off from Cowes on that sunny Friday afternoon!
Yacht Run and her crew achieved 15th in class and are now positioned 9th out of 66 boats in the 2013 RORC IRC 3 class. If you fancy racing with Lagoon Watersports please contact Davie Mossman on 01273 42 48 42 (opt 1) or check out our website www.lagoon.co.uk
See you on the water!
The Lagoon Watersports Team