Monday, 13 May 2013

UK Mini Fastnet 6.50 : Lizzy Foreman - Here We Go Again!

Lizzy Foreman. Image copyright Artemis Offshore Academy

by Lizzy Foreman

The past few days in Plymouth have been busy ones. Having finished the UK Solent 6.50 race on Wednesday morning, Nikki and I spent the afternoon in a bit of daze, just wondering around eventually getting some lunch to eat and a good shower. The following day we got on with the boat work, as always, there was a lot to do. The rig needed a re-tune, the baby stay had to be put back in (as it had fallen out during the last race!), things needed cleaning, new food needed to be bought and packed, kit cleaned and dried, batteries charged (boat and people's) and the navigation and weather studied for the next race, the UK Mini Fastnet starting today! (Sunday 12th May)

The race is 561 miles double-handed, with a change of course due to the weather to avoid a nasty, upwind slog. We are now to be going around the course to the Fastnet Rock in reverse. The course is as follows, to include a short in port race immediately after the start:

Plymouth Breakwater (to port)
Eddystone Rock light (to starboard)
Conninbeg Light Vessel (to port)
Fastnet Rock (to port)
Bishop rock (to port)
RWYC finish line (Plymouth)

The UK Mini Fastnet course

It will be an interesting race with Traffic Separation Schemes. These are basically traffic lanes, which are used to regulate shipping in busy, confined waterways and around capes. Between the traffic lanes and the coast there are 'inshore traffic zones', where local traffic, fishing and small craft can go.

On top of the traffic we have the tide to think about. There are lots of shoreline currents and at the Scilly Isles continuously clocking tidal streams. To get to Conninberg Light Vessel and the Fastnet Rock, we are going to have to cross the Irish sea; a convergent zone of the Atlantic Ocean, the Celtic Sea and the English Channel and the Scottish Sea. The Irish sea is renowned for rough weather and treacherous conditions near the rock. This is because low pressure systems spin up over Northern Ireland and Iceland, where they build and typically move off to the east or south east.
Artemis 438. Image copyright Artemis Offshore Academy

We have provisioned for three wet meals a day onboard, which we will heat up using boiling water. This means we then have hot water ready for a nice cup of tea! For pudding we have packed apple turnovers, flapjack and biscuits. On top of this both Nikki and I have a 'snack pack' crammed with goodies...chocolates, nuts, biscuits and jelly babies. The special treat onboard for this race is a hot water bottle and my dinghy drysuit - with the wet weather these are going to be our only comfort.

We will be taking it in turns to sleep, down below in probably a pool of water. There seems to be a bit of heat given off my the radio and AIS, but I think this is just an illusion from the light!
Artemis 438. Image copyright Artemis Offshore Academy

For the start we have 20 knots from the SW forecast, which looks set to build to 25 knots by the evening. As we get into Monday the wind is set to clock more towards the west / north west, at about 20 knots. Tuesday we have a big low pressure coming through bringing a minimum of 25 knots from the south south west, but hopefully we won't see much more than this...or it will be serious Buckaroo on the Mini!

You can follow the race with Yellow Brick here and on Twitter: @Fastnet650

Artemis Offshore Academy