What we do for fun

Published on November 21st, 2023

The popularity of the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race in England is impressive, typically selling out its limited registration within an hour of entry. But the 695nm course can be evil, delivering unkind conditions that can make one question their recreational pursuits. Seahorse journalist Øyvind Bordal shares his 2023 experience:

When I wake up, I don’t know where I am. Everything is moving, there’s a lot of noise, water rushes everywhere around me. A red light in front of my face confuses me. Then I hear a deep voice with an eastern European accent. I realise it’s a head lamp with a man behind it. And he says it’s my watch.

Suddenly I remember. I’m lying on a sail bag inside a boat, sailing the Rolex Fastnet Race. And it’s windy. Very windy. I’m wet to the bone, so cold and exhausted that it seems impossible to move my body. But it doesn’t matter how I feel. I have to go.

It’s hard to crawl out into the cockpit without falling. Every time the boat crashes into a wave, the jolt transmits through my body and the boat shakes. Numbers on the mast display flicker in the dark, shadows on the rail must be people, waiting to be replaced.

We’re sailing upwind under storm jib with a double reefed mainsail. In the night sky I see lights from helicopters. Voices on the VHF radio are dealing with another Mayday. – Full report

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