Preparing for The Fastnet Race - 49° 38' 54" N, 01° 37' 13" W

Woo hoo, we qualified!  And now the work begins to be ready for the start of The Fastnet Race! Wow, we are racing The Fastnet.

So, what's the big deal?? The Fastnet Race is one of the legendary ocean races along with The Sydney to Hobart and the Newport-Bermuda Race.  It has been running every two years since 1925 and is just under 700nm.  The 1979 Fastnet Race has gone down in history as a disaster that resulted in major changes to how the race is run and how its risks are managed.  Eighteen people died, 75 boats capsized and five sank. This, and the learnings from the disastrous 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race, is the reason for the strict qualifying criteria we had to meet.  This is not a race for the faint-hearted!

A very calm English Channel!

In calm conditions, we sailed (well, motored really) back across the English Channel to Cherbourg. In our absence, things had really ramped up.  A tent village of bars, restaurants, vendors and stages had popped up in preparation for the almighty party that would mark the end of the race.

Enjoying the The Race Village

We had a long list of things to do - from marking up tide tables and entering waypoints to provisioning.  We needed to figure out how to install the storm sails as it was a requirement to pass through an identity gate with them up. We had to read and understand the Sailing Instructions, swot up on the Rules of Racing, ensure we meet the World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations, check all safety equipment, check the rig, print out chart showing where safety equipment was kept, haul Emma out to clean her bottom, complete immigration forms, install jackstays, tighten battens, seize shackles and so on and on and on.

From the Sailing Instructions - these waypoints had to be entered into our electronic charts

The legendary Pete Goss spent a day with us giving us some tips on sail handing, boat management and tactics.  What an extraordinary wealth of knowledge he possesses and so willing to impart it. We had a really interesting day and were privileged to have spent time with him.  For those who have not heard of him, have a little read here.  He is definitely a guy you want on your team!

Can we ever get a photo with the full crew - Marie is missing from this one!

In and out of our preparations, we were interviewed for TV and newspapers. Garcia gave us team uniforms and started a social media campaign, making videos and taking photos.  Now we know what it's like to be super models!  We had a lot of fun making the videos.  You can see them here and here!  Marie volunteered to do our social media and she created an instagram account @sv.emma.on.the.fastnet. She did a great job with her posts and stories.

And again we are five - Rebecca is missing this time!

Adding to the fun, Marisa and Adriano had had their Exploration 45, Voyager, delivered earlier in the month and were across the marina from Emma on H Dock. This meant a few parties and gave us the opportunity to poke around on an EX45 and ask questions - did you get this? how does this work? what, that's not standard??!! Marisa has done a wonderful job styling the boat so she looks like a high-end NYC apartment!

Relaxing aboard Voyager

We attended a few of the formalities.  Each boat was introduced and the skipper answered questions.  There was lots of laughter so Clothilde must have been amusing but as it was in French, I hardly caught a word!

Introducing the boats - Emma racing IRC 2!

With the last few jobs complete, that is sending Clothilde up the mast to check the rigging and seize shackles, we headed back across the Channel to Yarmouth where we would spent the night prior to the start of the race.

Clothilde looking very comfortable up there.  Should we bring her down??!

Space was at a premium in all the marinas along The Solent.  Mark had organised us a berth on the River Yar.  To get there, we had to crept through the very tight, rather shallow and tidal Yarmouth Harbour, through the bridge, which opened just for us, down the Western Yar and into our berth.  Full credit to Clothilde's boat handling skills. Our space was just Emma-sized with no room to spare. Clothilde maneuvered her in beautifully - thank goodness for stern and bowthrusters!!


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