I’m here - Rodney Bay, St Lucia

Rich's 2019 ARC Blog
Richard Hurd
Fri 13 Dec 2019 20:29
14:04.497N 060:57.048W

1906 UTC 13th Dec 2019

At 1815 (LT - 2215 GMT) on Thursday 12th December, Fireball crossed the finish line in Rodney Bay. What a welcome we got with Paula, Mike & Charlie, Bella, Georgi, Phil & Caroline, Steph, Harry and Keelan all in a water taxi blowing vuvuzela horns & cheering as we crossed the line. We dropped the sails and our fellow First 40.7 competitor, Escapado, came alongside to tow us into the marina. As we tied up on the end of the pontoon, an ice cold rum punch was delivered by the ARC team and our shore team of WAGS had a case of cold beer and a chilled bottle of wine too - ah, bliss.

We said cheerio to Escapado, got our gear together and we all headed off for a much needed shower at our various apartments the crew had booked. We then all met up for dinner at Spinnakers beach bar which was great - a bloody great steak and several big beers.

We had a few interesting moments on the final run in. We relaxed too early when we got to the northern cape of St Lucia and got whacked by a sudden strong wind in the acceleration zone while flying Big Ginge, our very large spinnaker. Totally over canvassed, Fireball rounded up and we broached - luckily it was Chris in the helm and not me! Anyway the spinnaker blew back into the mast as we came upright and ripped on a sharp split pin in the rigging. Emergency drop of the kite with nobody ready - fun! At the same time, I managed to get my toe caught in a wooden slat in the cockpit - I heard it crack and today it is black & blue and pretty painful.

So, Fireball was in the racing category of the ARC and I’m sure you want to know how we got on. Well at this stage we don’t know, as there are several yachts still out there and they don’t adjust the times based on the different handicaps until the finish line closes next Friday. However based on the YB App it looks as if we were eighth out of 12 in our race class and 88th overall in the total ARC fleet of around 200 yachts. Our biggest rival, Escapado, who is an identical yacht to Fireball did really well and I think were 3rd in race class and they beat us to the finish line by about 18 hours, so yes a bit disappointed not to have kept up with them. In total it took us 18 days, 10 hours, 15 mins and 22 seconds. Without having GPS, we were unable to track our exact milage, but based on our chart plots, I calculated that we travelled around 2,860 nautical miles.

With the technical difficulties on board Fireball, my mantra to the skipper was to save “body, boat and soul” and I was really keen to not over stress, what in my opinion, was a totally underprepared and inadequate yacht to take on an ocean crossing. Chris the skipper wanted to push Fireball to the limits at all times and I simply had to say something on a regular basis to prevent more stuff from breaking - with possibly catastrophic consequences. As a result I know Chris gave up racing midway, as his crew were shattered and were struggling to get enough sleep. That clearly meant that we were going to be slower than our competitors and while we did OK, I think there is a bit of disappointment we didn’t do better. But I guess we all got here safely - that must be a result in itself! Taking on an ocean without an engine and hence limited electrics, a leaking hull and questionable rigging takes some balls, so Chris has to take credit there - or is that just reckless?

So I’m sitting on a comfy chair on our villa’s quayside pontoon, overlooking the marina and as I’ve written this, 5 more yachts have gone past having just finished their adventure across the pond. Like Fireballs crew, they too will have stories to tell and memories indelibly imprinted on their minds for life.

Me, well I’m just enjoying the sun, an ice cold beer and just starting to de-stress and relax after a crazy 3 week adventure. To my fellow crew friends on board Fireball - thanks guys, amazing adventure, wonderful food (especially Atlantic potatoes) and memories that will haunt, thrill and delight all at the same time. Now, time to get another cold beer from the fridge........

Love and light to all who’ve read about my adventure. Rich xxx