09 August 2012
Members of Caerphilly County Borough Council's Outdoor Education team set sail recently, in one of the largest yacht races in the world. The 'Round the Island Race, which circulates the Isle of Wight, is an epic battle as sailors battle it out to be champion of the seas.
The 50-mile nautical race, in its 81st outing, has proven extremely popular year upon year since the first event in 1931. This year's event attracted a total of 1647 boats and amongst them was the crew from Caerphilly aboard a Beneteau F40 racing yacht.
Having battled with strong winds of over 30knots and great waves breaking over the boat as they made their way from Portsmouth, the crew found themselves jostling for position with thousands of others at the start line. Soon after the starting cannons the team remained in close quarters with their competitors, narrowly avoiding collisions before passing world record-breaking sailor Ellen MacArthur on her training yacht.
Rounding The Needles on the West, the yacht was soon flying through the waters at the South of the island, fully exposed to the giant swell of the English Channel before running into big trouble hoisting the spinnaker.
Crewmember Richard Batten said, "The hoist itself went smoothly, when suddenly a rope popped loose from the spinnaker pole leaving the boat completely uncontrollable. The boat broached, which left us sailing sideways to the wind with the sail trying its hardest to pull the boat over at 45 degrees and leaving some of the crew waist high in water. After broaching another 2 times, we finally had everything under control after about a 20 minute struggle."
Despite this, the Caerphilly crew finished the race in 26th place in their class, without any other major incidents. The same can't be said for other competitors; during the course of the race there were a few minor collisions between boats, 1 boat capsized and 1 ran aground, 2 head injuries and a spinal injury with people airlifted to hospital in addition to a few men overboard.
Only 1200 of the 1647 boats managed to cross the finish line, with many retiring due to the challenging conditions. The race attracts a variety of competitors from the UK and Europe, and from as far away as the USA, including world-renowned sailors, families and first time racers.
The crew from the council consisted of: -
- Richard Batten, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Development Officer.
- Niall Sheridan, Senior Outdoor Education Instructor.
- Jason Fenn, Outdoor Education Manager.
- Anthony O'Boyle, Instructor.
Completing the crew were David Evans, Neil Lambden, David Buck and Adrian Buck.
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