Monday 8 October 2007

What happens when a big cat goes fishing…

by SailRaceWin

Mike Slade’s maxi, ICAP Leopard 3, ‘caught’ a shark on her way to the Fastnet Rock in this year’s Fastnet Race, from Cowes (England) to the Fastnet Rock (off southwest Ireland) and back to Plymouth (southwest England). Hungry for victory, and keeping her crew in good spirits with hot, fresh, food from a microwave and toasted sandwich maker (the latter described by one of the team as “one of the best features I’ve seen on an offshore boat for a long time”), Leopard clearly decided that the menu should be spiced up yet further with shark’s fin soup... or that’s one way of looking at it!

A shark got itself wrapped around the rudder. “It created a huge cavitation effect”, said Ray Davies, who was one of the helmsmen on Leopard. “We had to do a backdown and we lost a lot of time.”

The team initially tried swinging the canting keel and moving dagger boards up and down to free the beast. Moving everything at once resulted in blowing a hose in the hydraulics, which took half an hour to fix. Had it not been for this, Leopard would undoubtedly have been first at the Rock, rather than three seconds behind Rambler.

A brave Aussie, Hawk (Adam Hawkins), dove overboard to free the beast. Davies reckons that the shark was about five and a half feet long. With everyone interested in looking at the very dead shark, Leopard was beginning to get under way again before Hawk had climbed back up her high-sided hull. His bravery was nearly rewarded with a rather longer swim in the Irish Sea than he had reckoned!

In the end, despite the unscheduled stop, making a record time for the Fastnet Race of 44 hours, 18 minutes and 53 seconds, gave a well deserved line honours victory to the crew of Leopard.

Fastnet Race 2007

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