Great ocean race draws club champion

Neil Harrison steers out of the Solent with the famous chalk cliffs coastline in the background.
Neil Harrison steers out of the Solent with the famous chalk cliffs coastline in the background.

Of course, it�s off to sail in the Cowes Week regatta and compete in the Fastnet Race; that�s on the other side of the globe.

Hillarys Yacht Club Vice-Commodore and skipper of Deckchairs Overboard (Club Champion 2015) Neil Harrison has taken his wife Wendy, bowman Ryan Keeffe and the crew of Not a Diamond (Sydney to Hobart yacht) to the UK for an extraordinary opportunity to sail in one of the great ocean races.

The race, which started on August 16 from Cowes finishing in Plymouth, is remembered for the very challenging conditions in 1979 that resulted in the loss of five yachts and 15 sailors as only 86 yachts of 303 starters finished.

Fortunately, regulations, yacht construction and prerequisite experience has made the race safer today.

Neil and the crew sailed a Beneteau First 40, Lancelot 11 chartered for the race and while Wendy did not fancy doing the Fastnet, she did sail during the Cowes Week regatta.

The conditions both for the Cowes Week and Fastnet were vastly different from 1979.

At the start, there was little wind and conditions didn�t improve until half- way through the race making for a very frustrating beginning. However, when the breeze picked up the yachts took off.

Lancelot 11 finished at 18:27 (BST) on August 20 (4d 5h 27m 5s) covering 174NM in the last 24 hours. They were 42nd/72 yachts in IRC Div 2 and 145th of 310 yachts overall in IRC.

Well done Neil, Wendy, Ryan and crew.