Here’s the first report from Ed Stacey, another crack IPC sailor competing in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race onboard the Challenge 67 Ecover, formerly Group 4

“Well, what a start! The Force 5, occasionally 6 arrived as promised and was greeted enthusiastically by the crew whose recent qualifying passages had been hampered by the frustration of light airs. Group 4 relishes these blustery upwind conditions and at last we had the opportunity to show some of our rivals what we were capable of.

“The start line was heaving with yachts of all shapes and sizes. We were mixing it with some of the top names on the circuit and to be in such close proximity to the current breed of F1 machines was quite awesome: 60 footers of Open, Volvo and multihulled varieties were everywhere to be seen, not to mention many other state of the art racing beasts which drew admiring gasps as they thundered past.

“Our start was good. Opting for a port tack we caused a bit of a stir amongst our class and the cat-calls and whistles could do little to prevent us getting across the line in a healthy second place, just behind Creightons. They may have developed a problem as we quickly left them behind and began to search for our other rivals.

“Approaching the needles the size of the swell increased making it quite awkward for some of the smaller participants. Our decks were regularly awash and staying out of trouble took some serious effort and steady nerve. We are currently heading out into the Channel in the dirction of Cherbourg!

“The wind is coming dirctly from where we want to be but while the breeze maintains its steady 15-20 knots, this is not too much of a problem. The sea has flattened and we are making good headway at over eight knots. Morale is good onboard. Our crew of 12 has an international flavour as well as some broad experience of racing these first generation Challenge yachts.

“We are all looking forward to the next few days and hope that we can capitalise off the good work done so far before enjoying a few celebratory beers in Plymouth later in the week.”

Ed Stacey