Last tack at Barmouth, next
Adventures Before The Start
- Barmouth 24th June 2000
Just reaching Barmouth is not easy, especially in severe
weather, and even before the race has begun there have
been a few withdrawals and some excitement.
Winds to storm force 7 battered the incoming yachts during
the week and the Barmouth lifeboat was called out twice.
On Thursday 23rd the fire service crew on Parhelion were
in difficulties with engine failure, and then on Friday
the Navy team on Stormcruiser were unable to bring down
the sail, and they too needed the help of the lifeboat.
It turned out there was major damage to the mast housing,
such that the mast had shifted several inches forward,
which was why the halyard was stuck fast. The crew spent
12 hours in rough seas trying to sort out the problem,
but in the end had to call for assistance. Stormcruiser
were 2nd last year and one of the favourites this time,
but they are out of the race.
Three other yachts never even made it to the start. Steve
MacDonaldís disabled team had a catalogue of problems
and in the end decided not to come, but Steve has vowed
to get to the start line next year. Both Woodbird and
Beef on the Bone set off, but ended up storm-bound. The
team on Beef on the Bone were one of the most experienced
entered, several of them having set the race record a
few years ago, so another strong team are out.
Woodbird did get as far as Caernarfon, and even had the
cheek to ask if they could start from there, but they
got the predictable answer. However, they planned to leave
the boat up in Scotland for the summer cruising season,
so will probably join as a non-competing team.
Everyone has gone to great efforts to make the start and
there have been a few crews ringing round to find last
minute replacements. Team Reflex (who won last year as
team Tactix) have replaced David Hawkins with Brendan
Bolland, who may not be such a good rower, but is one
of the countries top mountain endurance runners.
Angus Ryan, one of the 2 South African runners on Sunsail
IRPS, flew over especially for the race, only arriving
2 days ago. The same boat only made it as far as a rock
in the Menai Strait last year, but are determined to go
all the way this time.
The support crews have been working hard too, none more
so than the team with the Scout Fellowship group, The
Exiles, on the yacht Leopard Clipper. They have a big
support team and a trailer with a strange craft on, now
called The Toast Rack - a sort of catamaran with hoops.
The support crew are lead by Alan Rand, who grew up at
Lymington, where all Tilmanís boats were fitted
out. As a lad he remembers going to Tilman's talks, watching
the spotty black and white films and the talk given by
the quiet, gruff man with the square jaw. This is one
of several yachts with members of the same family aboard,
brother and sister Tasmin and William Rand are on the
crew. They also have the youngest competitor, 19 year
old Kim Collinson, on board.
Their yacht is one of 3 Reflex 38's in the race (there
are only 12 in the world), skippered by Becky Walford,
a professional skipper for the Clipper fleet. (The only
lady skipper in the race.) Fleet owner Robin Knox Johnson,
who has completed the race himself, rang the crew last
night to wish them well. The other 2 Reflex 38's are Charter
Continuum.com and Team Reflex, and everyone is expecting
a great battle between them. Some are saying they will
be the first 3, but anything can happen in this race and
past winners, Parhelion, and Simply Red, a team from the
Royal College of Surgeons, are among the teams who think
Team Reflex are last years winners and Charter Continuum
are one of 3 Barmouth entries, are being given support
by snooker player John Parrot, who is sponsored by the
same company. He will fire the start cannon for the race.
The other local entries are Red Dragon, with race founder
Dr Rob Haworth on board for his 9th race and Kookarbura,
which has 3 serving members of the Barmouth lifeboat crew
aboard. Former lifeboat Coxswain Cedric Griffiths is the
skipper and his son Nathan is with him. Also on the team
is committee member Andy Sanderson, racing for the 3rd
As everyone busies themselves ready for the start the
weather is a mix of heavy cloud and bright sunshine, with
a fresh breeze (force 3 to 4) blowing from the North.
The yachts parade out of the harbour at 1.00 pm and the
race starts a mile offshore at 2.00 pm.