THE CatZero 2021 race team is already preparing for its next mission after completing the Round the Island Race on July 3.
The final challenge will see the team returning to the Isle of Wight for the Rolex Fastnet race, on Sunday, August 8, which will once again see their sailing skills tested to the limit as they take on more than 700 nautical miles!
The Rolex Fastnet race, which starts at the Royal Yacht Squadron start line of Cowes, will head down The Solent, past The Needles, Portland Bill and The Lizard before rounding Land’s End and heading over to the Fastnet Rock and lighthouse off the coast of County Cork, Ireland. The race then takes the return route via the Isles of Scilly before venturing over to Cherbourg, in France.
Traditionally, the 100-year-old race would finish in Plymouth but as there are now too many entrants for the port to accommodate, an alternative finish has been decided for 2021 and beyond.
Fastnet generally takes five to six days for yachts such as CatZero to complete and will see the crew tested with strong tides and potentially gale-force winds.
The Round the Island and Fastnet races are fundraising events for the charity, which will generally see two separate crews on each race, but due to Covid restrictions during 2021, the two opportunities were joined together to create an amazing, two-race challenge for those wanting to take part.
Completing the 90th anniversary Round the Island Race in a corrected time of 10:03:38, and the first Challenge yacht to finish, skipper Danny Watson took the crew safely around the course before heading back to Southampton to witness the semi-final England football victory.
He said: “We had a 4am alarm call to slip our lines to head to the cannon start from the Royal Yacht Squadron. It was a real drifter to start, with hardly any wind, but we got a good position ahead of the other Challenge yachts and Clipper fleet.
“The wind built as we headed down towards The Needles and the team performed well; short tacking in close quarters with many other yachts. We took a direct route from The Needles to St Catherine’s and hoisted the spinnaker before turning further away from the wind towards Bembridge.
“The team successfully gybed the spinnaker for the first time before changing to white sails, all the way to the finish line.”
Danny was really pleased with the performance. He finished: “The were some great learning points and the team performed really well. The race was a great stepping stone towards the Fastnet Challenge.”
With one more training weekend before the Fastnet, the yacht and the CatZero crew are very busy this summer. Next up is the Fishmonger’s Sail, which will see 11 Youth Futures Foundation (YFF) participants head down to London for the experience of a lifetime. More to follow …