YW's Deputy Editor joins the crew of the 100 foot Liara.


Whenever people ask me which boat I am sailing in the Fastnet and I reply Liara the inevitable response is, “well enjoy the hot showers, the air conditioning and the dvd selection”.

It’s not quite like that and as we prepare for the start I can report that among the 29 crew aboard this 100ft Bill Dixon designed sloop there are new fewer than 61 Fastnets, 21 Sydney Hobarts, 54 transatlantics, 21 meetings with Neptune, 151 national champs, 57 worlds and 64 european champs in the experience bank. “Now we just have to point her in the right direction,” said Jeff Dakin (14 Fastnets), our tactitician who reckons this will be his last time to the Rock “unless Tony buys a 120-footer and I can bring my slippers?”

No, this boat has been stripped out as far as possible, lined with foam to protect the luxurious interior and is aiming for a decent position on the water at least in the 608-mile classic which this year has attracted a full entry of 300 and is, of course, marking the 30th anniversary of the tragedy in 1979 which claimed 15 lives.

We’ve just been through the ID gate and demonstrated the use of our storm sails. We’re about an hour from our start.