The Flying Fish, the smallest boat in the fleet, has won the first leg of the Triangle Race

Rupert and Kathy Smalley sailing The Flying Fish, the smallest boat in the fleet, have won the first leg of the Triangle Race on corrected time – IRC – beating second placed Andromeda by 2 hours, 15 minutes.

The Flying Fish, a Laser 28, was ninth across the finishing line in Crosshaven on Tuesday afternoon, less than five hours behind the line honours winner Jalfrazi, after the 220 nautical mile journey from Torquay.

For the husband and wife Smalley team, this is the longest double handed race they have ever done, and they were a little apprehensive before the start, saying it would be a great achievement just to get their little boat to Crosshaven.

Rupert said they weren’t worried about results, they just wanted to do it. “We’ll give it a go, we have no expectations of doing well, or coming last,” he said.

Kathy said their previous successes had been achieved by eliminating mistakes, rather than pushing themselves and the boat, or taking risks, and they have no proper autohelm, just a bit of string to tie the tiller with.

In modest style Kathy said when she heard they’d won: “We were lucky, it was light winds all the way to Lands End, so it was going to be a small boat race, then it was survival across the Irish Sea, and we survived.

“We couldn’t believe it when we saw there weren’t many boats in, and the boats that were in were really quite big, so we were feeling quite pleased with ourselves.

They described their tactics for survival during the gale as “sensible seamanship”, taking in one reef as the wind increase, then another when the seas started to build, and finally dropping the headsail.

When asked how big the waves were in the gale Kathy admitted: “I didn’t look, I was too frightened to look, I was too busy looking forwards, Rupert was looking backwards.

“When it got to 30kts I thought, well this is quite windy, then it got to 32 and 33kts and we thought this is more windy, then it got to 38kts, so when it dropped back down to 32kts we felt it was much better.”

Second overall was Andromeda, a Fastnet 34, sailed by Robert Coates and Jeff Grist, with the Starlight 35 Dreamer third, in the hands of James Yallow and Gary Heward.

The first all female crew to contest the race, Kirsteen Donaldson and Mary Sturgess in Pyxis, an X332 were fourth on corrected time, while the winners of the last race, in 2002, Peter Howe and Mik Underdown sailing Majic, a J/110, were ninth.

Overall Results (IRC)

1 The Flying Fish (Laser 28) – Kathy & Rupert Smalley

2 Andromeda (Fastnet 34) – Robert Coates/Jeff Grist

3 Dreamer (Starlight 35) – James Yellow/Gary Heward

4 Pyxis (X332) – Kirsteen Donaldson/Mary Sturgess

5 Jalfrezi (J/120) – Gareth Thomas/Trevor Griffiths

6 Fayme (one off 10.45 m) – Andrew & David Smith