Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Yacht Club

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Fastnet Campaign News

Volunteer Finished Fastnet Race


Volunteer crossed the finish line off the western side of the Plymouth breakwater at just after midday (8th). She had encountered lighter winds than forecast in the final period which delayed her arrival  All Crew now safely ashore and sampling the delights of the finest hospitality the RORC village at Mountbatten has to offer along with a few of the attractions in the Barbican. She fortunately arrived in before the more challenging conditions of the next day (Friday 9th) set in. The Club extends its congratulation to the crew on a great effort and a BZ to all onboard.

Update to Campaign (7th August) - Passing Scillies and next stop Gus.

Another good run for Volunteer down the Celtic sea has seen a 24hr run of some 175 miles and currently (midday) passing under the south of the IOS. She has approx 85 miles still to go and hopefully will go over the finish sometime around midnight. The cold beers beckon. Another Member, Simon Harewood on Talisman is approx 15 miles from the finish and will finish early this afternoon. One of our newest recruits Tommy Chappell (who sailed on some of the qualifying races) has just rounded the Rock on a boat called Agememnon. The boat has had some technical issues hence the position at the back of the fleet. However they have not given up and continue to sail the course. We wish them well.

Update to Campaign (6th August) - Homeward Bound 

A good run for Volunteer up the Celtic sea has seen a 24hr run of some 150 miles and a rounding of the Fastnet Rock at approx 1215 BST. She is currently doing about 7.5-8.0kts on a SE'ly course and has some 245 miles to run. The wind should stay in the South West to West for the run back to Plymouth so the arrival window will now depend on how light the wind gets as they approach the finish. 

Update to Campaign (5th August)

After some frustrating light wind sailing getting across Lyme bay and then beyond Start Point, Volunteer met rough conditions entering the Celtic Sea whilst closing the Isles of Scilly early today, but at least the wind picked up as she went through the convergence zone between the two weather systems. She passed the bottom of the TSS to the NE of the IOS at around mid day and is now on a close reach towards the "Rock" averaging about 7kts.  At 2100 she currently has some 335 miles to go back to the finish and the weather forecast suggest she will be beam reaching from the Fastnet Rock back to the IOS on a south easterly course where she will turn east to pass under the Lizard and the last sprint back to Plymouth. Current estimates suggest an arrival sometime Midday - PM on the 7th. The wind should stay from the SW for next day or so going more west later on the 7th.

Update to Campaign (2nd August)

The campaign has now reached its peak with all qualifying races completed and the crew for the Fastnet finalised as, Stewart Henderson (Skipper), James Simpson, Ed Swift, Simon Thomas, Anna Daniels, Jasper Mann, Sam Beardmore and Mark Murisson. They are all Club Members and two are serving RNR's (Sam and Anna).

The final race was the St Malo race, (weekend of the 13th/14th July)  which was a downwind ride from the Solent down to St Malo. Unfortunately they picked up a penalty for missing a mark so the result was not quite as good as they would have wished. After the finish Volunteer then went into St Helier for fuel and a well earned run to a local restaurant.

So now all that remains is final storing and preps for the actual race on the 3rd August. The race itself is just over 600 miles and apart from keeping out of the TSS's and going around the Scillies, the race is simply Cowes - Fastnet (to port) - Plymouth. The weather can (but usually does not) play ball, it has been a reaching race around the course in some years to a "drift and dream", to hanging on as boats tack round the course with head winds all the way. It's what makes the race the premier offshore race and why so many people consider it a must have in their sailing CV. This year there is a record entry of foiling IMOCA 60's and some of the fastest trimarans currently sailing (The foiling ULTIMES Class) and it is expected that unless there are flat calms, course records will be broken in both classes. With speeds predicted of 35kts plus It is theoretically possible that the fastest ULTIMES could get round in a sub 24hr time however it is expected Volunteer will take about 4-5 days in fair conditions.

The days of turning up on the start line with a crew "pressed" out of the local yacht club bar went many decades ago and James Simpson who conceived the campaign back last summer has had his work cut out managing the process including sea survival training and funding. As a condition of sailing on the campaign all crew must be Club Members so James has done a great job of increasing our numbers. So we wish all the Crew fair winds and the wholehearted support of all club members. 

You can follow the race from the start on the 3rd August by using the YB app (details on the RORC-Fastnet web site). 

Pictures of the campaign to date are here

Update to Campaign (June 24th)

The Fastnet campaign team skippered by Stewart Henderson has now completed the second qualifying race, "The Myth of Malham". This race starts from Cowes and goes down channel to the Eddystone Light House and back to the Solent. It is about 260 miles +/- depending on the final course (can be via either end of the Solent). It is the race which covers some of the most tactically demanding parts of the course in respect of tidal gates and is often called the "Mini Fastnet". It is named after the revolutionary Laurent Giles design for Captain John Illingworth in which he won the 1947 and 1949 Fastnet races and successfully campaigned in the Admirals Cup. That design incorporating a light displacement hull and separately hung rudder set the parameters for the modern era of yacht design we see today. Club members competing in the Fastnet continues a long tradition of participation in that race particularly and Offshore Racing in general. Volunteer finished in just under 1 day  and 23 hours, corrected. Which was unfortunately just outside the time set by the RAFSA entry, the next nearest service yacht  -  (they probably had a relay of helo's pushing them along). 

Volunteer ready to go for the 2019 season

Volunteer is ready to go sailing for 2019. It is now based in the Hamble Point Marina and has recently completed all the required inspections for the renewal of its MCA certificate of coding, including the in/out of water detailed survey required every 5 years. It has also been re-approved by the RYA as a training yacht.  Its maintenance is being looked after by James Davies who will also be taking care of handovers etc. James is a professional yacht maintainer and skipper and brings a wealth of experience to Volunteer. He also lives locally in Hamble village.

It has recently been used by one of our members Commander Stephen Harmen RN on a trip across to Guernsey, Cherbourg, Poole and back to the Solent. 

To read Stephen's report as a PDF document, click here.

New Base in Port Hamble

SY Volunteer was moved to Port Hamble Marina (Berth B14) on 31st March with the following crew: Thomas & Siegrid Wilson, Sam Beardmore, Alistair Grant, Anna and James Simpson. After an early start loading up the hire van at Port Solent with the Lay Apart Store goodies and shelving, they had a great sail to Hamble, 9.5 knots achieved.

I drove the Lay Apart store around, met by Jimbo who helped me erect the shelving into our new Lay Apart Store, (L6 on ground floor same padlock code 8297).  The crew unloaded the van and we all went back to Port Solent for celebration drink at 1800…..

See more photos here.

Plan for Tuesday 2 April:
1100 SB, AS, AG, MC & Jimbo (plus a volunteer swimmer) to meet at B14.  Jimbo will bring suit and we can do our Man Overboard Recovery demo video alongside B14 as there is space on the starboard side.
1230 Lunch with Charlie and Chris from Britannia, plus Jimbo.

1400 Depart

Mike Critchley

Work has begun to get Volunteer ready for the season.  Step 1:  Antifoul ... looks like one coat done already and they're still smiling!

Day 2 of the preparation:  Apparently, Rain stopped play ...

so 2nd antifouling coat working party to convene at Port Solent on
Tuesday, 5th March 0900 - 1130. 

RNVRYC Registered Address:
c/o The Naval Club
38 Hill Street, Mayfair, London W1J 5NS

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