Surviving the 50th Edition of the Fastnet Race

Posted by Mary Coles on 2 August 2023

Fastnet23 PR I

So, returned from my Fastnet adventure and am still compiling all the photos and with more difficulty, my thoughts.

It has been the most difficult sailing every experienced. 5 days spent mostly at 30 degree angle, soaked and in the same clothes apart from a sweatshirt change towards the end of the sail. Sleep totalled approx 15 hours in 5 days as we worked 4 hours on and 4 hours off for 5 days. Impossible to remove wet weather gear, so sleep was grabbed either lying on the sails, or simply lying on a wet bunk for a couple of hours before returning to duties. We encountered Force 9 (Gale) conditions on 4 occassions and on Wednesday night I knew that if anyone went overboard or the yacht broached in the most turbulent seas I have ever encountered, then all would be lost, no drama here. It was only the incredible efforts by our skipper Neil Maher and First Mate James Gasper at the helm which got us home. This Fastnet has been described at the hardest in a generation, and my bruises are testament to this. But I am glad that we completed the race non stop when many, many other yachts either retired or suspended racing and sought refuge in numerous ports.

Fastnet23 PR II

My intention was to test myself for my 60th birthday, and to demonstrate to my grandchildren that hard work, dedication and application does deliver results. This was truly the experience of a lifetime, more difficult than expected, but was exhilarating, frightening, scintillating, rewarding and more I can list. I thank all the crew of EH01 for making this a massive event and working hard together to get both our personal and performance goals met. I have a folder full of photos and a heart and head full of memories. Like my crew mates, I am also hugely proud to be a "Fastneter" and to have completed one of the most difficult races in recent memory. Just goes to show that Old Guys can Rule!!

In terms of results, from nearly 500 entrants we came 100th overall, and 24th in our IRC class, and to cap it all 1st in the training school fleet!! I hope you indulge my lengthy [FaceBook] post and enjoy what is a small selection of the moments from a huge achievement, by all of EH01.

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