So, what’s next?
With ‘Ruffian’ ready for anything and ourselves hungry for more long distance races, our minds cast back to a conversation with two of the Dutch competitors, Dick Koopmans and Huib Swets who told us they were thinking of setting up a North Sea, two handed race, from Ijmuiden in Holland to Stravanger in Norway onto Lerwick and back to Stravanger. Provisionally count us in we told them and put our name on the list.
At the same time Pete’s mind drifted back to a meeting at the Southampton boat show, where he bumped into another Scarborough Yacht Club member, Neil Arundale, slightly the worse for ware, who had been having a re-union with competitors from the AZAB,’ what’s that all about?’ I asked, ‘It’s a yacht race to the Azores and back, either single or two handed’. Well that did it, yet another seed had been sown, to grow in the back of my mind, smouldering, just waiting for an opportune moment to raise it’s head! Yet more inspiration from a Scarborough Yacht Club member!
A quick Google search and bingo, the four yearly race was to be held next year, we contacted them and as the race was ‘full’ we were put on the waiting list at number 28!! Anne Thomas, the Royal Cornwall Yacht club’s race secretary, told us that our chances were small but to submit our qualifying passage log anyway, which quite obviously, would be the RB&I race, hoping the kudos from this race would help our cause! This done, a few weeks went by when we received an email accepting our qualifier, also being told we were now down to 27th on the list!
Persistency paid off
This was the race we wanted to do and subsequent research only fired our enthusiasm even more. Having once done the job of Scarborough Yacht Club’s North Sea Race secretary Pete realized all the hassle this involved and sent weekly emails to Anne, expressing our desperation to do this race, pointing out that our entry wouldn’t present any other problems for her, as we already had our sea survival certificates, our first aid certificates, ‘Ruffian’ was fully up to the required safety standards, our qualifier had already being accepted and every thing else that was needed to make her job much easier!
Just before Christmas we received a phone call from Anne, saying she was fed up with other entrants on the list not sending her all the documentation she needed and that as someone had pulled out, she would give their place to us if we sent in the race entry fee. Needless to say we ran to the post box with the cheque! We had done it! Our next big race would be the AZAB.
We also made the decision that in parallel with doing the race we would try and raise money for charity. Emma’s charity would be for the local branch of Riding for the Disabled in which she is heavily involved and Pete’s would be for Saint Catherine’s Hospice. What happened next committed us to 6 months of hard labour!
Our vision of encouraging our friends to pop their names on a sponsorship form, was soon pushed into the back ground, when talking to our friend ‘Radd’ McLachlan of Wrenn Internet services. ‘You don’t do it like that anymore, what you need is a web site to promote yourselves on ,all the publicity you can get, a press launch, you have to market yourselves, you need a name, a logo’ and from all this, ‘Ruffian Racing’ was born!
Radd very kindly provided us with the web site as his part of the sponsorship and introduced us to Tony from ‘Effective PR’ who told us how to maximise publicity, Neil Pearson at very short notice, produced our logo, we were caught in a whirlwind and were been dragged along by it’s impetus!
Emma’s husband, Paul became involved with the website development, Margaret spent hours, sewing on new lettering on the boom cover, to publicise the web site ,we made presentation booklets, telling of our back ground, about ‘Ruffian’ and about the challenge we had set ourselves and more importantly, how to donate to our charities!
We sent them out to local companies, the press, local radio companies and friends, along with an invitation to the press launch which would be held in the Yacht Club in January. We had talks with Saint Catherine’s who supplied us with sponsorship forms and helped promote us through their website, we opened a bank account for the donations which were starting to trickle in, we sent out articles to the yachting press and we prepared for the launch, we borrowed display boards where both of our charities would put on a displays, we arranged the food and Sandra Campion very kindly sponsored the drinks for the occasion which were served by our good friend, Wayne Sugggit and with the help of Tony we had gained a little publicity from the local press, things were slowly starting to take off.
Our plan was not only to raise money but to create a feeling of involvement with the project and judging by the help we had received so far, it was working. The launch was well attended and support was pledged by the press, offering to cover us as much as possible and from the local radio companies who frightened us half to death by doing two live broadcasts there and then, with a promise of more in the future and live coverage of the event it’s self. Money donations had also been pledged and the sponsorship had been given a huge kick start.
The launch had been a great success but we had to keep the momentum going and to this end a friend, John Dickinson, provided us with thousands of leaflets telling of our project and details of how to donate which we could post through peoples letter boxes. It soon became very obvious that the magnitude of this job had being grossly underestimated and we would need help. We had given a talk to Scarborough Sea Cadets about the race and it was with their help that the rest of the leaflets were distributed and as a small thank you, we took them sailing the following week, they are a credit to Scarborough. Subsequent articles in the local press and broadcasts on BBC Radio York helped keep the money coming in but the clock was now ticking down to our departure date and there were still a few improvements to make to ‘Ruffian’
‘The things to do list’
Every boat has one and ‘Ruffian’ would need a good spruce up to look her best along with a fresh coat of anti-foul and a new regulation for off shore racing, the keel and rudder has to be painted luminous orange. We can’t think why that should be, because no one will ever see it unless it’s upside down! The only other possibility is, it’s to match Emma’s nail polish!
With preparations nearly complete (once again, what hadn’t been done would just have to wait!) our departure date of 16th May had arrived. The help we had received, had been phenomenal, not only in our fund raising efforts but our food had been provided by Wayfarer Foods, we had also given Sedbergh School sailing lessons and the opportunity to sail with us on some of our training weeks, in return they had supplied us with two new spinnakers, sporting their school crest, a huge wolfs head and other safety kit from various people. But now it was down to us and we cast off, waved good bye to family and friends and started the long passage down to Falmouth.
The weather was cold and wet and with little wind, we motor sailed, stopping off at Lowestoft to refuel, until the wind eventually picked up, as usual its feast or famine and with 30knts on the nose, we were glad to put in at Dover for a few hours until the worst had blown through, before we continued on our way, past the Isle of Wight, to one of our favourite haunts, the River Yealm, just around the corner from Plymouth, where we met up with Peter Taylor and his wife, Rosie and other friends we had made whilst taking part in the RB&I and Phil, one of our own crew from Scarborough!
It was our intention to visit as many places as we could whilst we were in this part of the country and we stopped off in the very beautiful Fowey before going past Falmouth and picked up a mooring in the River Helford for the night but with the wind starting to build and the radio forecasting gales we left the next morning to explore the River Fal but with little protection in a southerly gale, decided to get a berth whilst they were still available at Pendennis marina, where we stayed until the start of the race. We completed all the paper work, scrutineering and other pre race checks, before being declared ‘fit to race’ and enjoyed the hospitality of, and relaxed in the luxurious surroundings of the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club.
This race is very different from the RB&I, more Corinthian with a bigger variety of none out and out racing machines, we eyed up the opposition and felt quietly confident that with a bit of luck we could do quite well. On handicap we would be the slowest boat in our class,(which theoretically should be the second fastest class).
We soon had made new friends with fellow competitors and met up with another Ruffian crew member, Keith Rickinson, who had arrived on a delivery trip with one of the other participants. Family and friends joined us and on the last night before the start, we all went for a big meal. We all looked resplendent in the black polo shirts with our new logo on, which we had had made up as a gesture of thanks, for all the support they had given us. Team Ruffian had once again made it to the start line.