The first leg of the 500 mile race.

The weather was foul, pouring with rain and 25knts of wind, as we made our way to the start line and jostled for position with two reefs in the main but as we neared the start time the wind eased a little and we were able to shake out one of the reefs the horn sounded and we were off.

We soon lost contact with the bigger boats and when Bjorkski’s water ballast tanks were full, they too steadily overtook us. The wind eased and by 1700 the going was painfully slow, accompanied by so many wind shifts, forcing so many sail changes, hand steering and no sleep! But at least the rest of the fleet had not disappeared on the AIS and were fairing no better than us. By mid day on the second day we had the kite up again and had visual contact with Crazy D and Bongo, which gave us hope but a few more hours and the tide would change direction, we must round Smith’s Knoll before it does. We could still see the rest of the fleet and on the AIS could see them round the buoy, one by one, their speeds doubling as they now had the tide with them. The rich get rich and the poor get poorer! We jibed the kite as we rounded and gained comfort from the fact we were only 1.38 miles behind Bongo, that is until they changed kite and sailed off out of site!

I was exhausted by now and Emma did the first double watch to let me catch up with some sleep. We made good speeds and rounded the Petro 39 buoy just after midnight, it is so nerve wracking rounding a flashing light, now you see it, now you don’t! We rounded safely but were now hard on a building wind and have to tack to avoid the rigs but at least we are on the last leg. The following morning only brings a grey miserable day, the first reef goes in and later the second, 24 knots on the nose doesn’t make for good sailing it is so tiring but we just manage to carry the tide to Flamborough head before it changes, the next few miles are not easy as we hug in close to the shore using the local knowledge that we have gained over the years. We finish at 02.34.37, 64 ½ hours after we started but on the plus side, at least we could sail straight into our berth in the drying harbour.

The following day was spent drinking coffee and chatting on each other’s boats before the Club’s reception evening and BBQ for our honoured quests. That evening a trip was organised by Madelon, firstly by bus to Whitby, then to Pickering on the North Yorkshire moors railway, were we picked them up from and took them to visit Foulbridge,a former Knights Templers hall and Emma’s family home. The pre-brief was held the same evening along with a buffet, followed by an early night by most in readiness for the start at mid day on Saturday.