Three yachts finished the RORC Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race on Friday 23rd August, deciding the winners of both IRC One and IRC Two and there were celebrations on the dock for all that survived to tell the tale of what may be one of the world’s most demanding races, short of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The J/122, RELENTLESS ON JELLYFISH, skippered by James George and owned by Chris Radford, crossed the finish line off the Royal Yacht Squadron line on Cowes at 14:52:57 on 22 August to win IRC Two. The “Jellyfish” crew has been competing in the RORC Season’s Points Championship since May and their result in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race has lifted them to Top Yacht in IRC Two and third overall for the season! The crew let out a big cheer as they heard the news dockside.
“The last night was just awesome,” James George explained dockside. “Through some clever navigation by Tom Gadsen and David Lowe after Blackrock, we not only overtook our friends on the J/111 BRITISH SOLDIER, but got seven miles in front of them. However, BRITISH SOLDIER was after us all the way up the south west coast. It got up to about 25 knots of wind as the last night approached and we took down our spinnaker to have dinner, but BRITISH SOLDIER kept their spinnaker up and so did we, as a result. They put their biggest spinnaker up and started pulling into us, so up went our biggest spinnaker! It just went on and on, all through the night, pretty much a full-on match race after 11 days at sea! BRITISH SOLDIER was a worthy opponent; they shortened the gap to just a few miles by St. Catherine’s Point where the tide was turning. We made it into the Solent just in time, while they had to punch the tide. I have got to say that was one of the most incredible nights sailing I have ever had, or will have and for that reason, the Round Britain and Ireland is the best yacht race I have ever taken part in.”
All of the Jellyfish crew were dockside to give three cheers to BRITISH SOLDIER as the Army Sailing Association’s team finished the race. Jeff Johnstone, President of J/Boats was also on the dock. Jeff was attending the J/111 World Championship in Cowes: “It is great to see our boats being used in such a terrific offshore race and the extraordinary condition of the boats after taking a pounding in such wild conditions, with gales and massive seas, is testament to the crews. The skipper of Jellyfish told me they broke a batten and a light bulb, which is amazing after what they have gone through and for British Soldier to race with just five crew was remarkable (after losing some to injuries and putting them ashore!).”
There were only five serving members of the British Army on board BRITISH SOLDIER, a boat that is normally raced with eight. Due to a crew member returning to duty before the start and another taken off during the race with a dislocated shoulder, BRITISH SOLDIER was two men down, but still full of fight. Soldier’s skipper, Phil Caswell spoke about the experience: “A tough race, but there was never any need to motivate the lads, they just got on with it and the battle with Jellyfish was the catalyst that we focused on. Congratulations to their skipper and crew! This race has been an incredible experience for us. All of the crew are decent sailors but with an average age of just 25, we have massively increased our experience. In a short period of time, we have learnt so much and I am sure the Army Sailing Association will be back for the next race. This race is something that we will all draw on for the rest of our lives. Racing around Britain and Ireland is a fascinating experience.” Sailing photo credits- Patrick Eden and also Paul Wyeth (http://www.pwpictures.com) For more RORC Round Britain & Ireland Race sailing information