Ross Applebey's Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster, completed the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race on Thursday 23 August in just under 11 days, to take third place overall after IRC time correction.
It was a sweet moment for the crew, but especially for Jess Fries, who was racing on Scarlet Oyster in the 2014 edition when an injury to a crew member and a horrendous weather forecast led to their retirement.
“This was unfinished business, but it is more than finished now, it is great to conquer this race and to finish it is something special,” Jess said, smiling dockside in Cowes.
“This is an amazing way of getting a completely different experience; from the extremes of gales off Mucka Flugga and becalmed in the North Sea. The moon and stars at night, what more could you want?”
Ross Applebey, Scarlet Oyster's skipper, has a wealth of offshore racing success and has some good advice for would-be competitors in the race: “Racing for the podium focused the crew for the last 24 hours, and we pushed pretty hard for the finish, because we had kept something in the tank.
“I was very careful about choosing and preparing this crew. Everyone on board has done a Fastnet or equivalent, and as a team. We did three RORC races to pull ourselves together.
“If you want to do this race, I would recommend you do the Fastnet first. Essentially this race is three Fastnets; colder at the top and you are very likely to encounter gale force conditions for extended periods – you need to be ready for that.”
Ian Hoddle's Sun Fast 3600 Game On (Virgin Media Business), racing two handed with Ollie Wyatt finished the race in an elapsed time of 11 days 6 hrs 30 mins 10 secs, winning IRC 3 after time correction, and taking fourth place overall.
The tough two handed team narrowly missed the overall podium by just 20 minutes:
“We got round 18 hours quicker than in 2014, which was one thing we set out to do, and it is great to win our class.
“I wasn't expecting to have a Volvo Ocean Race team to compete with,” said Ian, referring to Benjamin Schwartz and Chen Jin Hao, the IRC two-handed winners on El Velosolex SL Energies Group who respectfully came to welcome Game On as they stepped ashore.
“The winners are an awesome team and it was a major yardstick to pit ourselves against. At one point they were 110 miles ahead of us, but we got back to within 60 miles of them at the finish, and it pushed us to take fourth overall, which was unexpected.
“We’ve had a great battle with Scarlet Oyster for that podium. A big thank you to Virgin Media Business for supporting our campaign which has raised over £18,000 for the charity SCOPE which gets disabled people back in work.”
Hannah Stodel's Region Normandie finished the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race to take fourth place in the Class40 division in an elapsed time of 11 days 10 hrs 7 mins 29 secs.
Hannah has represented Great Britain at three summer Paralympics and has won three Disabled World Championships in short course sailing, but this was her first offshore race.
She admitted to be in tears as the team crossed the line: “It's amazing to finish this race. It was so brutal, but I am so proud to prove to myself that I could do it – never under-estimate the power of self-belief.
“We watched people fall out and retire and it was scary when we saw 52 knots at the top of the course, but we set out to achieve, and we have finished one of the toughest RORC races, so we have started pretty big,” finished Hannah, whose aim is the 2020 Vendée Globe.
Congratulations to Chris Revelman and Pascal Bakker's Dutch J/122 Junique Raymarine Sailing Team which has finished the race in an elapsed time of 11 days 11 hrs 53 mins 45 secs, provisionally taking third place in IRC two handed and IRC 2.
Chris and Pascal also have the honour of becoming the first Dutch team to complete the challenge two handed. They too received a warm welcome back from family, friends and the RORC Race Team.
The Army Sailing Association's X-41 British Soldier, skippered by Major Will Naylor, who was taking part in the race for the third time.
The team completed the race in an elapsed time of 11 days 13 hours 57 mins 32 secs and are currently fourth overall in IRC 2. It was a tough race right to the end in the early hours of Friday morning, as the team arrived with no electrics or working engine, but were elated to finish the race.
A crew of 10 serving men and women continue a long tradition of offshore racing for the British Army.
At 0900 on Friday 24th August, Day 13 of the race, seven teams are still on the course.