Exercise GRAND CANARIA - November 2010Join the ASA Today

The Crew


British Soldier ready to go from Gosport to the CanariesWith the ARC 2010 start on 21st November, the delivery crew had just three weeks to get her from Gosport to the Canaries. With Skipper Brian Campbell-Bottom and first mate Chris Herbert we had planned the passage from the UK to Gran Las Palmas via La Coruña in North-West Spain and Madeira.

Having spent 24 hours preparing for sea and debating whether using plastic dog bowls as plates was an acceptable weight saving measure, we set off for La Coruña. Our time in the Solent gave the novices on the crew a chance for some training on board before night fell. Once we had cleared the commercial shipping of the English Channel and the Ile d’Ouessant, we made our South-West way across the Bay of Biscay keeping British Soldier in deep water away from the French coast. Upwind all the way, we beat across the bay making good speed and were supported along the way by several playful pods of dolphins. sailing round the clockThe very dark nights were challenging as we crashed our way through the waves. With winds of up 30 knots a couple of reefs in the mainsail were required on two nights. During our fifth day at sea we made it to a sunny La Coruña have successfully crossed the Bay of Biscay. It had been quite a passage for Mike who had never been on a yacht before!

The Skipper had planned for us to spend two nights in mainland Spain but a forecast of arriving bad weather forced us to change our ideas. With only one night in the superb new marina in La Coruña and wishing we had more time to see the city, we left for the more sheltered port. The next leg would take us to the town of Bayona a short way down the Spanish West coast where we would wait for the storm to pass.

British Soldier in BayonaBayona is a beautiful Galician town guarded by a fortress and it is where one of Columbus’ ships, the Pinta, landed with the news of the discovery of the new world. Our passage took a day and a half. We arrived safely ahead of the 10-metre seas and strong winds that proceeded to batter the Spanish coast for the next three days. The four nights spent in the Monte Real Club de Yates de Bayona meant we had run out of time to visit Madeira and so we stocked up on supplies for a 1000nm-plus journey directly to Gran Canaria. With the ocean still recovering from the storm the seas were still around 8m when we began our passage with hopes of some sunshine and favourable winds. Despite the encouragement of yet more dolphins, the wind, though 15-20 knots most of the time, did not want us sail straight to our destination. British Soldier reaches Gran CanariaWith no ambient light overnight and in some fairly large swells British Soldier proved a handful to helm down wind leaving the Skipper and mate on the helm for hours at a time on some days.

Six days after leaving Bayona and having sailed almost 2000nm from the UK, we finally woke to the sight of Gran Canaria in bright sunshine and sailed in to Las Palmas with a job well done! x

Offshore Racing Manager

Tim Hill Racing Manager for British Soldier

Lt Col Tim Hill
Tel: 01923 955337
Email: racing@sailarmy.co.uk