AN International race featuring some of the world’s most experienced sailors and 388 boats, was completed in record time by a Humber-based yacht and its crew – with around half being rookie team members.
CatZero, the 72ft Challenge yacht owned by the charity of the same name, takes on the biannual Rolex Fastnet Challenge to raise funds for its transformational change programmes. The 2019 team, once again led by CatZero Director of Sailing Danny Watson, was made up of a crew of which around fifty per cent had almost no sailing experience.
After training sessions that included a North Sea race, Team CatZero completed the Fastnet in three days and eight hours. A record time for the yacht, buoyed by stronger winds than in previous years, it was the fastest of four Challenge yachts in the race that were crewed by amateurs – six hours ahead of the next to finish.
The only other vessel of the same design was raced by experienced army personnel and it did finish ahead – but was chased by Hull’s CatZero team right down the home straight.
“We chased them down all the way but just couldn’t catch them, but it certainly made for an exciting race,” said Danny, a round-the-world sailor himself.
Leaving Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, the crew negotiated a whole range of weather conditions, from strong winds to equally tricky light air patches with little breeze, before turning at the Fastnet Rock, off the coast of Ireland and racing back to the south coast and Plymouth.
“We certainly didn’t mosey along, we raced around that course and pushed ourselves. A race like this is a journey of self-discovery, without pushing yourself, you never know your limits and you don’t grow. We certainly grew during this adventure,” added Danny.
For the Managing Director of Northern Divers, John ‘Jack’ Sparrowe it was his fourth time on board CatZero for the Rolex Fastnet – an adventure of which he never tires.
“The experience is different every time, the people you meet always make up a fantastic crew. I have grown up either under, or next to, water but until these Fastnet challenges, never really found the time to sail, and this enables me to do just that,” said John, who is aptly renamed ‘Jack’ to save confusion with other crew members named John on board.
As for highlights: “The whole event is one big highlight. And, of course, we are raising money for an organisation that does such good work,” added John.
Bookings on CatZero are already being taken for the 2021 race and to register early interest please email [email protected]