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Update from Terry

Wednesday 15th August Post from Terry

It's 06:12 and I'm sitting at home drinking a cup of tea. The family are still asleep and I'm sitting here contemplating the last 48 hours. This time yesterday I was lying on the floor of L'Isme by the chart table, knee joint splinted with a copy of Yachting monthly (very appropriate), having slipped in the galley. I finished up wedged in a gap about 60cm wide with my right leg jammed under a cupboard. I was in pain and every time the boat crashed down another wave my body weight was pulling against my trapped knee. James and Andy came to the rescue. They tried to lift the cupboard but it was fixed fast. Between them they managed to manoeuvre me into a position where they could free my leg. I don't remember passing out but I suppose I must have as the next I knew I was laying by the chart table listening to the numerous calls to Brixham and Falmouth coast guards. One of the first calls I heard was from the yacht Jambalaya, she had been de-masted about three miles from our current position. Her constant unanswered calls made it clear that the coast guard wasn't receiving her, probably because the antenna for the main radio would have been mounted on the mast and the skipper was using a handheld set. James (our skipper) called the coast guard and arranged to relay messages. The coast guard requested that we stand by and wait for the Lifeboat to arrive and assist Jambalaya. We were no longer racing and the fate of the stricken vessel was now our first concern as it would be sometime before the lifeboat would arrive. James relayed regular messages between the coast guard, the lifeboat and Jambalaya. As I lay there I couldn't help imagining what it must have been like for the crew of Jambalaya. They had told us they were trying to cut their rigging free which would be essential if they were to be towed. Having tried cutting through steel rigging cables on dry land during our safety training the thought of doing it in seas and winds strong enough to break a mast seemed impossible. Through all this James relayed reassuring messages in tones that must have provided some comfort to the crew. James had set a course to get us nearer to Jambalaya but they were lying directly up wind from our position and it would be slow going.

Whilst all this was going on Peter had suffered a nasty cut to his head whilst answering the call of nature. In these conditions even the simplest of activities are challenging. Moving around when the deck keeps dropping from under you requires holding on firmly with both hands and yet, somehow, James managed to skipper the boat, plot our course, rescue me, patch up Peter, relay messages and reassure our crew. Practice or a natural talent? I suspect a lot of practice combined with the innate qualities of a natural leader.

Despite our injuries both Peter and I were keen to continue. We had come too far to give up now. I suspect our enthusiasm was through misplaced feelings of not wanting to start all over and total ignorance of just how dangerous the situation had become. James took the decision and we were heading to Plymouth. Despite our obvious disappointment a number of the crew confided that they were glad James had taken the decision and it was definitely the correct one. On arrival at Plymouth, we discovered just how many boats had pulled out. This was the first time in 82 years the start had been delayed due to bad weather and two thirds of the fleet had retired. We had managed to get further than most retirees and even some of the professional racers had given up. On return from the hospital I sat with the crew listening to the stories of some of the other crews and realised that, as a bunch of first time sailors, our achievements were greater than we realised. Despite not finishing we can be proud of our efforts and who knows, there's always the next one in 2009 J.


Third update!

1100, Wednesday 15th August 2007

What was intended to be a well-earned leisurely start and a day spent getting L'isme back to showroom condition took an unexpected turn as we, along with 5 other larger yachts were asked to move out of the marina and onto the harbour mooring buoys. This was to let the 2 fastest returning racers - Leopard III and Rambler gain access to the marina. All eyes were on us - not to mention hearts in mouths - as James turned 60' of yacht through 180 deg in just 62' of space. And the AA flag flew proudly throughout,

Still too early to make a decision as to where we will sail to today as the weather is still very heavy and everything is taking that much longer now as the remaining crew are now having to use the water taxi to transit backwards and forwards for essentials such as gas which otherwise would have entailed no more than a short walk along the pontoon. When Skipper James returns we will check the latest weather reports and take a view on what is realistic in terms of distance achievable with the crew we have remaining.

Remaining on board for the return legs are James, Andy, Katie, Peter, Keith, Dan and David. Enough to get her back now that we have gone to a single watch (Peter was concerned at his ability to manage L'isme single-handed whilst Starboard Watch was resting) and now that we intend day-sailing only.

We leave Plymouth with the memory of a great night ashore watching the British Fireworks Championships in the company of at least half the Fastnet fleet, thankful to have made it so far and even more thankful that Terry and Peter are O.K. albeit Terry still has a bit of a recovery period ahead of him.

From everyone on L'Isme!!

Second update!

10:25h, Monday 13th August 2007

Hey All,

Well the day has finally come and we are currently motoring across to Cowes to the start line. The sun is shining (even though David has his legs out again!), but that's due to change in 24 hours with a force 7/8 forecast. That would have sounded daunting on the first race, but all that means now is we can go faster :o)

We started yesterday with some intensive spinnaker training so both teams would know how to put it up and then put it away again. It's going to be completely different doing it at sea, but at least we know the basics now.

After the training some of the boys headed off and watched the football, a few of the crew stayed behind and fixed the cruising chute as it needed some small repairs and Katie and I (Mel) went shopping for the BBQ. The BBQ went off without a hitch and all in all it was a very relaxing evening and the rain held off.

The crew are all very excited about starting the race. Terry "Tommy Cooper" Driscoll has already started with his repertoire of jokes, and the mood is buoyant. We head over the start line at 12:00 today, so just making final checks and battening down the hatches.

With the current forecast, the hope is to be back by Thursday night, but you never know with this sailing lark! We actually might make it back for the party this time!

Next installment soon....

19:00h Monday 13th August 2007

The start of the race was utter carnage! There were some pretty close calls and I'm sure a couple of boats bumped together!. Luckily our skipper is looking to complete this race, rather than win it, so we started off from the back of the pack (Skippers note - by back of pack she meant front of line.) if you were watching the footage though, we are the boat that Boss nearly hit on it's way out of Cowes! All very exciting.

Well we have been racing now for 7 hours and currently we are 2.5 hours away from Portland Bill. A record for us!. The wind has been favourable but more is forecast over the next 24 hours so we are preparing early.

Sea sickness has hit a few of the crew so far, but everyone is battling on. Poor Alistair lost his glasses when the main came over his head suddenly so he is currently making do with his sunnies (not quite sure how that will work once darkness falls!)

Massive compliments to Andy our chef who prepared us a lunch of sandwiches and melon and then a cracking meal this evening of Salmon and Asparagus tart with roast veggies. I don't think any of us have eaten this well for ages.

The Starboard team started the shift system at 3pm, so are currently getting their heads down. The Port team are currently on deck and the next handover will be at 9pm.

Keep your fingers crossed for favourable winds :o)

0000h - 0300h, Tuesday 14th August 2007

Starboard Watch on duty as we enter Lyme Bay..and we are in 121st place (out of 271 starters!) Hoorah!

Weather horrendous - sheeting rain and world and his dog are out on the water. There are an average of 23 Rolex yachts on the horizon just now as well as the Torbay fishermen!

First distress call overheard. Jambalya has lost its mast and Brixham and Falmouth coastguards think we are the closest vessel so might need to go and help them..ohmigod!

Have just been told to carry on as Salcombe lifeboat is going to attend : )

Total blackness now as we are rounding Start Point. Winds are up to 45 kts apparent wind and showing no sign of relenting. Fabulous sailing - when we are in a fit state to appreciate it. casualties of sea sickness are building by the minute.

0400h, Tuesday 14th August 2007

Port watch due to takeover now but Terry has just slipped in the galley and pulled his knee ligaments again. Now unable to walk or move and in chronic pain and passing out as Andy and James try to make him more comfortable.

0420h, Tuesday 14th August 2007

Peter joins the casualty list on Port Watch as he bashes his head open in one of the heads.such a simple task is impossible just now with the huge swells. No loss of consciousness at the moment but the Watch is now reduced to Mel (still bouncing!), Catherine (looking after the fishes) and Alistair (wondering what he's signed up for!).

0500h, Tuesday 14th August 2007

James the Skipper now has a big decision to make. L'Ismé can handle everything this Fastnet has to throw at it and more but, with a depleted crew, we probably can't. James needs to factor in the welfare of Terry and Peter as well as our keenness to complete the race. As we still have the opportunity to shelter in Plymouth (we've just heard on the radio that much of the fleet has already stopped at Weymouth, Brixham and Plymouth) this seems like the responsible thing to do.

1000h, Tuesday 14th August 2007

We've just pulled into Plymouth and have an ambulance waiting for Terry and Peter. The Harbour Master advises us to moor alongside the fuel pontoon until he can make a space for L'Isme's 60ft. Plymouth is full of Rolex racers already here seeking shelter - we eventually moor alongside some very professional racing crews from all around the world.

1209, Tuesday 14th August 2007

Have just logged on and noted the ever increasing list of retirements - two more lows on their way which signals a further increase in bad weather and the end of our 2007 Rolex Fastnet Race. We are all gutted...but we'll back in 2009! Watch out Boss!

From everyone on L'Isme!!

First update!


It's 1115h and we are still in the Marina! The weather has delayed our start by 25hours so we're getting in some last minute practice with the spinnaker.

Mike (from BDM, who did a sterling job of arranging this whole event for us) has finally had to tear himself away for a family holiday.

Blog updates will follow frequently throughout our adventure - particularly if we have a nice sunny trip! It is currently raining as David has revealed his blue Scottish legs and Mel mentioned the word barbecue!

Fingers crossed that we'll get going tomorrow, our start time is 1200h.....and the good news is that nobody has been sick yet!

Speak soon....

from the Port & Starboard teams

Channel Race (Race Start Saturday 28th July 2007)

Photo of L’Ismé taken during the channel race
Eight boats finished after L’Ismé in the Channel Race - we are definitely getting better! As the only non-dedicated racing boat in class, the team did very well to finish and complete the 191nm course in the weekend’s weather conditions.
The Starboard Watch Team (John, Dan, Keith & Katie, led by David) had a nightmare with the genoa at 2 o’clock in the morning which took us 11 miles of sailing (off course!) to correct. The Port Watch Team (Mel, Terry, Peter and Catherine, led by Mike) spent most of their watch slogging back to the marker buoy to avoid disqualification.

In parts, this one was incredibly hard work but overall brilliant sailing. Next stop....The Fastnet!

Cowes - Dinard - St Malo Race (Race Start Friday 13th July 2007)

Photo of L’Ismé taken whilst crossing the finish line
A great achievement - we finished and completed the 164nm course in a corrected time of 1-13:06:45.

The complete lack of wind made it difficult to reach the finish but we arrived before the start of the fireworks! Brilliant lightning on the home leg made avoiding the container ships much more exciting!

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