Slow boats to plymouth

Did I say that the finish team would have problems as 50 boats came to the line? Surely that was the understatement of the year.

Team WAFL had their hearts in their mouths. Our met information suggested zero wind by midnight and we fully expected to have to spend the night at anchor but some little thundery cells powered us ( and everbody else!) across the bay. Our ETA at Rame head was tantalising – 2345 hrs – although the breeze was dying for the last two hours as we closed the land and it slipped ominously into the predicted calm period. Astern of us the night filled with green and red lights – unbelievable numbers of them – whilst ahead the big class one boats who had overtaken us appeared to have stopped in yet another line abreast under the cliff.

We opted to go outside the first group and it seemed to pay , but as more and more boats piled in , what little wind  there was ( and by this stage we were excited if we had 2 knots of it) was swallowed up . What is more , the fair tide that had helped us all east was now replaced by an ebb past the breakwater, and the reach that was powering the boats from astern turned into a beat against the tide . Then the piece de la resistance – you couldn’t cross the line on starboard ! So there we were ,  surrounded  by 200 of the 350 boat fleet  in the pitch dark  just about to cross when yet another large boat  joined the party on starboard , scattering the next bunch of port tackers in a bizarre slow motion ballet.

The radio was going mad as 200 boats reported, as per the SI’s , that they were about to finish. No kidding guys – the whole bloody fleet was about to finish and it would have been more sensible for the few yachts in the universe who WEREN’T within 100 metres of finishing  to radio in and tell the race officer not to worry about them!

By and large it was  a good humoured affair , although inevitably there were a few who thought they were back in the Oppie nationals . Our priority became to finish without  being hit or going on the rocks by the breakwater ( did I mention that someone did this , thus adding to the already overloaded  radio traffic as they called for help !) , and gradually the whole raft ghosted across the line.   

So now its time for a bottle of champagne and some serious snoring , and tomorrow we will get down to the serious business of telling tall tales of high adventure. I have a feeling that however extraordinary ( and unlikely) those tales will be , nothing will quite match up to the bizarre events of tonight.




  1. Just heard that Festina has an iPad. Congratulations Philip! Keep the blogosphere alive with more stories.

  2. Congratulations on a good result in challenging conditions.

    Jo & Adrian

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