London the Long Way travel blog

Strewth Crew hard at work

The Beer Tent, mmm

Trimming outfit?


The Lizard - leaving England

Fastnet approaches

The rough Irish Sea?

After 6 months travelling it felt amazing to finally arrive in the UK and collapse exhausted on the doorstep of Alex, Hannah and Freddy Toone in London. After the usual round of drinking, eating, unpacking and washing we finally felt like we were slowing down...but Cowes week beckoned!

Cowes Sailing week held each year on the Isle of Wight is the worlds largest sailing event. Over 1,000 boats and around 15,000 people decend on the sleepy Solent town of Cowes (that boasts 7 yacht clubs) for a week of drinking and a little sailing.

The organising committee must have a good sense of humour as they set each days courses to overlap each other and then only announce the courses 10 minutes before each start. The result is organised chaos as crews scramble to get boast around marks, avoid sand banks, push against 4 knots of current, whilst nursing horrible hangovers!

I was joining the crew of an Australian yacht named Strewth for the first time and we made sure she lived up to her Aussie name. With the Boxing Kangaroo flying proudly and Kevin Bloody Wilson blearing froom the deck speakers whilst on dock, the bemused English sailors and their wives where in no doubt of the origin of this tour.

The final race of Cowes is the Fastnet race, a 608 mile race from the Solent around Fastnet Rock off southern Ireland and back to Plymouth in Cornwell. The Fastnet has a reputation of being a rough and dangerous race, and lives have been lost on the crossing of the Irish Sea. Our crossing however involved a completely different type of endurance...sunburn and boredom! In very light breeze we managed to drift to ireland in back in just under 6 days, a day and a half longer than we expected. At one stage we sat 1 mile south of Fastnet rock for 18 hours moving a few hundred metres forward only to drift back again as the tide turned!

The greatest injustice of it all though was to finish the race to find that the barhad run out of beer and rum in the first 12 hours! You call this a yacht race!

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