RAF team aboard J/109 Red Arrow quit while ahead during stormy night in Rolex Fastnet Race 15/8/07

Flight Lieutenant Marcus Wilson and the eight-strong RAF team aboard the RAF Sailing Association’s J/109Red Arroware one of the many teams deciding that discretion was the better part of valor by quitting the Rolex Fastnet Race while the going was good.

Wilson, who last year took part and completed the double-handed Round Britain and Ireland Race with teammate Rich Steel, is this year heading the team for the Rolex Fastnet Race but when yachtingworld.com caught up with the team in Weymouth following their retirement, it was obvious there was strong feeling of relief. Wilson, commenting from the White Hart – a well-known, sailors’ drinking hole in Weymouth said: “We always had a cut off and said we wouldn’t go beyond that cut off. The conditions exceeded that cut off so we decided to retire while it was still possible.”

According to Wilson, they were having a great sail and had made Portland Bill but they then spotted an upturned inflatable dinghy which raised great concern. Naturally they went over to check it out and called up the Portland Coastguards, and somehow managed to pull the boat aboard. Wilson continues: “Bit of a concern but we can only hope that someone else had just lost it overboard. We struggled to get it on board, deflated it and stuffed it down below. By this time – 20 minutes later – it was time for the 1920 weather forecast which was not good. It was still giving Force 8s upwards with sea state rough to very rough. Basically the forecast made it evident that they weren’t conditions we were prepared to carry on in.

Wilson and team say they are currently storm-bound but hope to get back out there soon because they need to deliver the yacht to Plymouth for next week’s J-Cup event. “The forecast this morning [Wednesday] is starting to moderate so the idea is to leave Weymouth sometime after midnight tonight which means we should arrive in Plymouth sometime on Thursday afternoon,” concluded Wilson.

… Update on inflatable liferaft. According to Wilson the liferaft has been returned to its owners who kindly made a significant contrubution to the RNLI for its safe return.