RBYC logo
Sea Challenge
Isle of Man
Race Journal
Pre-Race Journal
Leg 1 to Boston

6th October, 2000                                                                                   Charlestown, Boston, U.S.

Race start
The 10th September was a day that I had been looking forward to for years, literally. It turned out to be all that I had expected and more. Thousands of small craft thronged the seething Solent to wish us farewell. We wanted to look out for friends and family on the spectator ferries but couldn't take our minds away from the task in hand - there was a yacht race to be won, after all. The Isle of Man made a poor start in the light winds but soon caught the rest of the pack. With spinnakers flying, the fleet jockeyed for position toward Hurst Castle, then at last, we were past the Needles and away! On board the 'Isle of Man', watches started at 7pm and we had a chance to start settling in to the routine of six hours on then six off during the daytime and four hours on/off/on at night. For those of us who usually enjoy seven hours sleep at a time, this would be a luxury to be experienced only after arriving in Boston.

Life at 35 degrees
When the wind kicks in and the pressure in the sails forces the yacht to sail at a 35 degree incline or greater, life gets hard.  Walking is difficult whereas sliding and falling are easy and on the foredeck, a liking for working on all fours is useful. Cooking in the galley is irritating as pots and pans slide around whilst their contents jerk about and using the heads (toilet) becomes extremely unpleasant. Just use your imagination!

Working on the foredeck can sometimes be perilous. Imagine - the yacht may already be at 35 degrees; the waves are HUGE,  the bow surges over the top of one crest and plunges steeply into the trough below; the foredeck crew get soaked  by the waves crashing over the bow. It's hardly surprising that sometimes injury occurs. After a week at sea, I fell badly across the open forepeak hatch, bruising  myself sufficiently to wonder if I would need a trip to the hospital. Thankfully, that wasn't necessary and the nearest hospital was over a thousand miles away by helicopter anyway. Such an airlift was later necessary from Logica, where a fellow crew volunteer was suffering from peritonitis.

Work on board
Off watch means just that for us, we have time to read our e-mail, read, write, wash and sleep, anything we want. During the on watch, we take it in turns to do the navigation log, the weather log, pump the bilges, clear the grey tank, change the sails and endlessly 'trim, trim, trim'. Two crew members per day cook for all and do the cleaning chores.

Team dynamics
It's often the first thing that visitors to the yacht ask. 'How do you all get on?' 'You must get on each other's  nerves?' And yes, it has been very interesting to see how behaviour can change when people are tired or hungry. We often have preconceived ideas about others influenced by the cars they drive, the clothes  they wear, the houses in which they live and the jobs they do. Excepting a doctor, an engineer and an electrician - these all have obvious skills that are of real practical use on board but otherwise, getting to know crew members is somewhat simplified as similar kit is worn, cars and houses have no part to play and a person's personailty and behaviour says much more about them than any job title. Much could be said on this matter.........

Cyclone/tropical storm Helene
The forecast was for 40 knots and I had been off watch for half an hour when Helene struck. Within five minutes the wind speed indicator was recording 45, 50, 60, 70 and finally a horrifying 78 knots of wind. All hell seemed to break loose  above our heads as the foredeck team struggled  to take down the flogging headsail. Was I scared? You could say that. When the noise is incredibly loud, when your home is leaping and jumping all around you and sounding like a train hurtling through a tunnel, when you can hear cracking glass and you have never before experienced such a phenomenon, yes, I told myself, it was okay to be scared!  The headsail ended up in pieces.

I set myself the task of writing a full page entry in my diary for each day of the race. The day when the cyclone hit is unsurprisingly empty. Our off watch time became  full 'on' as we inspected damage and tried to repair what we could. No time to write that day, and really no need as the memories are so vivid.

Results for Leg 1
To race for several thousand miles and have the first six yachts finish within ten hours of each other shows just how competitive this race is. With just a few hours to the finish, we, on the Isle of Man, were having a tacking duel with Veritas, which we sadly lost due to lack of choice in our diminished sail wardrobe! How aggravating to lose a valuable point  by finishing less than 15 minutes behind! 



 18 days 2hrs 17mins


    BP Explorer

 18 days 7hrs 0mins


    LG Flatron

 18 days 8hrs 10mins



 18 days 9hrs 16mins



 18 days 12hrs 1min


    Isle of Man

 18 days 12hrs 16mins



 18 days 18hrs 0mins


   Spirit of Hongkong

 18 days 18hrs 29mins


   Save the Children

 19 days 7hrs 47mins


   Team Spirit

 19 days 21hrs 46mins


   Norwich Union

 20 days 7hrs 25mins


   Olympic Group

 20 days 10hrs 29mins

For a missive sent by e-mail direct from the yacht to shore, click here!

Guestbook updated? Yes / Legs 1-2 updated? Yes / Legs 3-4 updated? Yes / Legs 5-7 updated? Yes

Last journal / Next journal

Back to the top

Copyright   Jan Cambrensis 1999-2004.  All rights reserved.