Update from Eager

EAGER - Fastnet 2021
Chris C-W
Mon 9 Aug 2021 10:30
It was an eventful first few hours for EAGER. With great cheer we left the dock in Lymington at about 0930hrs to make our way to Cowes for the start of the race. With wind and tide in our favour, we were off the Castle in no time and fully in the mix of the massive multi hulls as they sprinted off their start line.

As the racing instructions dictated we hoisted our bright orange storm jib and trysail and sailed through the check gate, a pretty sensible rule given the carnage of the past.

With pre start protocols complete and the wind built to 32 knots, we headed for the relative sanctuary of Cowes harbour in order to hoist our mainsail and tie in two slab reefs (which make the main sail smaller). We are in IRC Class 2 which were last to start at 1240hrs.

Our starting guru Ben chose the North end of the line which would give us a flat out starboard approach and start. A great plan as it happened as most of the fleet went to the Island end giving us a nice clean run, but as we wound on the power with 30 seconds to go before our gun, the carbon blade jib (the small sail at the front) shredded and flapped wildly from the forestay in its many pieces.

Plainly this was a big setback but quickly we made a plan to continue to start the race with just the main and then dart back for the cover of Cowes to change to our second jib. The foredeck team leapt about first pulling down the remains of the first sail and then replacing it with our large jib which we furled to make smaller. As we headed back out to the start line we tossed a bail of torn black carbon onto the dock and rounded the starting buoy to start the race proper. We lost only 30 mins with this mishap but with the tide now in full flow East, the rest of the fleet were almost out of sight. Undeterred we set off up the Solent in pursuit.

With the wind now against the tide, the steep chop rose quickly causing the boat to rise and fall wildly. We crashed into the beat and were Hurst Castle in dead last place but waving to the WAGs as we sailed by was a great boost to morale.

If we thought the Solent chop was nasty, the Bridge after the Needles had a surprise in store! The sea grew and grew until we saw an ominous line of steep waves and white water. The first broke over the deck with a roar, then the second third and fourth in quick succession. The deck was awash with foaming white water, literally like looking into a washing machine mid cycle, and then we were through.

Before departure we had done our best to reseal the chain plates and reseat the hatches but unfortunately to no avail. With the constant white water and periodic torrential rain, the interior is sodden, beds, heads, sofa, ceiling, floors, all soaked, so we sleep in our boots and foul weather gear.

It’s now the morning of day two, we seem to be settling in to the watch system quite well. At night we all wear red light head torches which casts an gloomy glow about the cabin as the watches swap positions, by day we sit in any space we can find to brace ourselves.

Nora, who has sea legs of oak, cooked up a steaming pasta which did no end of good for morale.

Richard, our navigator, occasionally gives instructions to the helm and dishes out tit bits on our progress.

The new guy Rick, is a sold pair of hands, and can be found at the base of the mast with Johnny and Rupert usually waist deep in water.

The rest of the crew seem jolly enough but there is a realisation setting in that this is type 2 fun…to be enjoyed when it’s all over.

I hope to write again but it’s quite a struggle.