Triple Lindy family and friends, today was truly memorable. We pushed hard to get the most out of the last segment of the more than 350nm upwind portion of the race. After clearing the Scilly Islands, we played the winds and currents throughout the night, keeping the Lindy driving into the chop that was riding atop larger swells in the Celtic Sea. The winds came in strong from the northwest, testing each watch’s skills to maintain drive and keep the boat at the most powerful angle going upwind. It was wet and cold as the #3 jib and reefed main worked well in combination to handle the more than 20kts of wind that persisted until 0300. The boat truly felt alive as the sheets blocks groaned and popped with each adjustment from the trimmers while the bow sliced through the waves. Off watch folks curled into the sea berths wrapped in blankets to ward off the cold.
Just as the first hints of morning light arrived, we could see the coast of Ireland coming into view. Shortly thereafter, we switched from the #3 to the heavy 1 jib and full main to keep our speed up. The first part of turning the Fastnet light was avoiding the traffic separation scheme to the southeast, and then turning towards the rounding waypoint. There were more than 20 boats in view as we all converged on the corner of the traffic separation zone and began our run towards the light. All hands wanted to be part of this iconic moment, so we all came on deck with cell phones and cameras at the ready. The beauty of this spot off the Irish coast was spectacular. We could see the rolling green hills behind Baltimore Bay and the postcard like appearance of Clear Island, the closest point along the coast off to our right. Fastnet Light sits in lonely isolation on a rock outcropping. The history of this lighthouse as a landmark in this race made an impression on each one of us. Just as thousands of sailors before us have participated in this race, turning the light evoked a range of feelings–happiness at the prospect of completing the long slog upwind, gratitude for being part of some thing special, and respect for the sailors who have gone before us, in more difficult times without modern electronics and detailed weather reporting. In a sign of the times, various cell phones onboard started chirping as texts and emails began coming in. It was fun for just a few moments to pose for pictures and share this milestone in the race.
The other situations we followed through the night were some vessels in the fleet that experienced gear failure. One boat dropped out with hull delamination issues, while another was apparently dismasted and received a tow to safe harbor from the Irish Coast Guard Baltimore Rescue station. This is the same rescue station that responded so famously during the 1979 Fastnet Race putting their lives at risk to rescue sailors caught in the Force 10 storm.
After passing close to the rock, we set the A2 spinnaker and began the trek back across the Celtic Sea. The first few hours after Fastnet were spent trying to find the right downwind aspect to maintain speed and stay somewhere close to track. Clear skies, and less apparent wind across the deck allowed our crew to warm up and dry our foul weather gear. Sean and Kent created a wonderful brunch of egg, bacon and cheese muffins, while everyone relished the boat moving along with less heel angle, which makes the task of getting around so much easier. The ongoing competition between the “gunner watch” and the “dream team” continued with various claims as to who moved the boat faster during their time on deck. Tonight was steak night as CAPT Joe cooked up a wonderful meal. We kept a keen lookout for other fishing vessel and merchant traffic mixing into the fleet of Fastnet racers as we drive down track towards the Scilly Islands waypoint. The English flavor to the race and our provisioning were quite apparent as tea, coffee and Hobnobs were favorite between meal snacks.