YW's Fastnet rookie raced in the Morgan Cup Race with team Puma Logic, taking fourth in their class. Jo Cackett reports

The Puma Logic team was all set for the Morgan Cup Race, with sunny skies and a light north-easterly breeze. The RORC’s decision to choose a course that was different to all five courses the fleet were prepared for, did baffle us. In addition to that Classes Super Zero, Zero, 1 & 2, were set on a longer course to Class 3. We sailed east out of the Solent to Ocean Safety Offshore Buoy to starboard, west to the RORC Offshore Light Buoy, and east back to Ocean Safety Offshore Buoy to the Nab Tower and onto the finish at Royal Albert, with a total of 149 miles. Class 3 were sent on the same course, but did not have to round Ocean Safety the second time, their course only being 133 miles.

After QEII decided to grace us with her presence and delay the start, we set off at 19:05 very happy to be first over the line. It was a majestic evening that was threatening to turn ugly as we headed east, with the wind blowing up to 17 knots towards the forts – but thankfully the rain held off. The wind shifted to the east and we were on a reach the whole way to Ocean Safety Offshore Buoy. After the excitement of the start, the crew settled in for a long night as the sun set on the horizon. It was a buzz to be racing close to Scarlet Oyster and Maverick II at that stage.

The roly-poly motion of the boat then started to take effect on me, and once again I was hanging over the guardrail depositing my lunch in the sea. I tried to be prepared this time, having taken slow-release ginger tablets and my electronic relief band – but while the first kept repeating on me, the latter just made me feel like someone in the electric chair on death row – which does take your mind off the seasickness for a little while, I guess.

Rounding Ocean Safety Offshore Buoy with a dozen other yachts around us we bore away and hoisted the spinnaker, scrambling in the dark. As crewmate Richard said, it was like “a sea of Christmas trees” as the darkness closed in around us and all we could see were the navigation lights of the boats around us. Heading due east we started off north of the rhumb line, but as the wind got lighter we had to make a decision. Go south, hoping for the breeze to build, or north to take advantage of the wind direction that was due to swing south-east. We chose south but in hindsight, the skipper Philippe wished we had gone north but as he explained: “There was more pressure to the south and the wind did swing to the south-east, so we had the benefit of one and was disadvantaged by the other. Tactics can be like a game of chess.”

Scoring the first three hour watch, I perched myself behind the guy winch, struggling to keep myself upright. During my breaks of throwing up over the side I did have a good close-up of the pretty glowing phosphorescence, a type of plankton, floating by in the water. The downwind run was long and by 0300 we happily collapsed into our bunks.

Rounding the RORC Offshore Light Buoy to starboard we beat all the way back to Ocean Safety Offshore Buoy in sunshine and a cool variable breeze averaging around 10 knots from the east until it swung south, helping us get to the mark. We were lucky to have the tide with us most of the way. And with a bit of help from Duran Duran on the stereo, we languished on deck in the sun as Dave (the new recruit) and Mark lathered themselves in sun cream. By that stage I felt like a feeble hobbit.

We then went east towards Nab Tower, so that we could make a good course when we gybed, knowing the tide was about to change. Rounding Nab Tower on a reach, we did a hoist and drop but the afternoon winds proved too light for our new Quantum .9 kite, and we lost about 8 minutes on Maverick, who we were tailing most of the way. Pottering past Bembridge Ledge Light Buoy and Horse Sand Fort and trying to get the most out of the breeze, we struggled to rein in the spinnaker as the starboard guy and sheet went flying on one of the drops.

Over the Royal Albert finish line at 19:06:25 was a non-event, but we were happy and relieved. Philippe had gone into his “softly softly” mode as he’d been awake 24 hours, and literally flopped into bed for a quick kip as we motored back to Southampton in time for a beer and sleep.

As it turned out the results revealed we did better than expected with a fourth in our class! Overall we came 21st, after the RORC had calculated the yachts corrected average speed.

In hindsight, Philippe thought RORC should’ve sent all classes together as finding an overall winner from yachts corrected average speed makes things complicated. As he said: “To me sending everyone on the shorter course would have been the fairest thing to do. It would then have been a level playing field. It seems strange that a boat can take line honours when it sailed a much smaller distance!”

Our Puma Logic team is ecstatic with the result and ready to take home medallions at the prize giving at the RORC tonight.