Rolex Fastnet Race – Skipper Blog, Day 1

818 views  |   July 24th, 2023 

Rolex Fastnet Race 2023 – Skipper Blog, Day 1

by Ricky Chalmers, Challenger 3

As the Rolex Fastnet race kicks off, we hear from Skipper Ricky on-board Challenger 3.

Challenger 3

An interesting start on the Rolex Fastnet Race

Well, that was an interesting start… Not sure on the exact wind speed because our B&G is reporting very unrealistic low numbers, and the heel of the boat and the crashing through the waves with just the Yankee 3, Storm Staysail and Three Reefs, suggests more than 22 knots apparent. It was a great start, we had to barge our way through numerous boats not in our class, but with later start times who were blocking the line, but 47 tons of Challenger at full pelt has a certain presence. We crossed the line ahead of the other two Tall Ship Challengers which was satisfying, but lost the lead down the Western Solent in a tacking duel – despite a well judged tack which forced Challenger 4 into a big bear-away around our rear end.

Sadly both Challenger 4 and 2 appear to have suffered damage to their Yankee 3 as they dropped it and fell back. We took the North Channel into Poole Bay which was a wise move I think as we made good progress in flatter seas. A few tacks took us around Anvil Point and St Albans head and it got dark before we rounded Portland in the dark with a sprinkling of stern lights ahead of us and the lighthouse looming brightly on our starboard side.

A night of drama!

It was a night of drama in the fleet with one yacht sunk and crew recovered from their life raft – valuable Sea Survival course I hope. Oyster Catcher declared a mayday with large cracks in their deck, there was a dismasting and broken knee and a variety of other crew injuries, the Coastguard Helicopter, Swanage, Yarmouth and other lifeboats had a very busy night!

Slightly less drama on Challenger 3. The freezer in my cabin went walkabout and ripped its power cables. I am still finding sausages and other precooked food around my cabin – thankfully still frozen. The aft coolbox also went walk-about and the radar reflector is hanging on a precarious thread. But apart from that and some wet, sea-sick and tired crew we are doing well.

Challenger 2 are about 2 miles to the South East and are matching us tack for tack as we both try and get around Prawl Point in the adverse tide which finally turns in our favour at 1300. So still in the lead but not by much.

The wind has eased and the latest GRIB forecast which I have just downloaded shows 15-20 SW for the foreseeable future.


Posted by: First Class Sailing


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