Conway Media Round Ireland Yacht Race 20 - 25 June 2010 Join the ASA Today

There are many reasons for racing a yacht around Ireland; the cheerful welcome, the landscape, the Guinness, but perhaps the best one is the explorer’s universal justification: “because it’s there.”

British Soldier, racing under her alternative name of Fujitsu, entered the 2010 race in June this year. Held biennially every non Fastnet year, the race starts and finishes from the innocuous-looking fishing port of Wicklow some 25 miles from Dublin on Ireland’s East Coast. The 730nm race clockwise around the Emerald Isle is often beset by the typical local summer weather of howling gales, huge seas and torrential rain.

Fujitsu the alternative name for British SoldierSkippered by Lt Col Andrew Britton, the experienced crew also included Lt Col Nick Bate, Capts Simon Foster and James Kayll, 2Lt Richard Luckyn-Malone, WO2 Brian Campbell Bottoms and civilians Jo Clay and Sam Hunt.

Fujitsu had a good aggressive start, on a packed line with an Irish Naval Service warship acting as committee boat. As we headed south an aircraft performed an acrobatic display overhead and cheers rang out from the crowd of thousands on the nearby harbour wall and other yachts. We quickly blasted away from the bulk of the fleet and settled into the leading pack of 6 yachts including Tonnere de Breskens, Inis Mor,, Spirit of Rosslare, and Visit Malta

We then continued much in the same vein trading places now and again with other yachts and at times according to the race tracker and our supporters were up in 3rd place on the water. It never fails to amaze me that one can see a rival disappear off on a different course and then after 12 hours see them materialise again in much the same position. Highlights included passing the Fastnet rock (cue obligatory photo sessions) and blasting up the West coast in 25kt southerlies doing a steady 10-12 kts in sustained surfs. Unfortunately one gust too many saw off the battle-scarred A4 and she burst end to end. The loss of our AP kite was a serious setback and we prayed for a change in conditions to avoid ceding a 1-2 kts per hour advantage to our rivals.

That change in conditions came near Malin Head as the wind died altogether, the pack parked, and we contemplated trying to kedge in 150 metres. Fortunately we managed to ghost along again and playing the eddies off Belfast, we gained ground on our rivals. However the race had a final trick up its sleeve; the final home straight to Wicklow was again glassy calm allowing rivals Visit Malta Puma to close up. The finish was genuinely emotional as bizarrely a stream of Motown classics echoed across the absolutely still water and we were cheered in as we finished at 0500 in the morning.

Fujitsu came 4th overall and 2nd in IRC One. Overall this was a hugely enjoyable race, closely fought, and with a unique and fantastic welcome from everyone in Wicklow.

Mike Hayle, Director Defence & National Security, Fujitsu said “Fujitsu are very proud to be associated with British Soldier and delighted they are doing so well.”

By Lt Col Andrew Britton MBE

Offshore Racing Manager

Tim Hill Racing Manager for British Soldier

Lt Col Tim Hill
Tel: 01923 955337