PowerPlay Fastnet Record

We have a corrected time; it was 25 hrs 4 mins 18 seconds, not 24 as the finisher got confused between BST and UTC! But we still got the record by 2 1/2 hours or so.
Powerplay Fastnet Record -1 We left the dock Monday, April 5th about 0900 to test the conditions for the Round the Wight record attempt. As a test run, we reached down to the Needles but the wind dropped at the end and we actually had to do two short tacks in light winds in order to reach them. It took us too long to get there and so we called off the RTI attempt. We did carry on and make the gybe to start along the South Coast in order to run through the test.
The RTI was the more difficult record to break than the Fastnet as our best sim times were only a few minutes better than the present record
As we had planned we returned to the starting area off Cowes to make the necessary changes for the Fastnet. The rib came out to pick up the camera man and extra grinder we had on board and transfer the food, safety equipment, etc. that we needed. This all took about an hour or so. One of the benefits was the rib driver was able to pick up some hot Cornish Pasties that we gratefully devoured. We were already cold!
We started from the Cowes start line about 1130 UTC with the end of the ebbtide.
The blast out of the Solent was difficult as we had the lulls and puffs that apparently are common for that wind direction but the Northerly wind was building as forecast so we did not have the big lull at Hurst Castle and the Needles we had experienced on the test run. The  run along the South Coast was pretty uneventful although puffy and I think that was when we had our highest speeds; we hit 40 knots.
The turn up around Lands End and then the southern Irish Sea was dreadful. We had wind chill that must have been -10 or worse as we were doing 20 to 25 knots with Northerly freezing winds (340 to 10) 18 to 25 knots, violent seas, and extremely wet conditions. One of the team with over 100,000 miles on the boat said they were the worst conditions he had ever experienced and several of the others agreed including some who had done the Southern Ocean. I had 5 layers of upper body clothing and was still cold. The trimmers and grinders were absolutely covered in water; it was for them like being in a freezing water fall. We lined up to be sick; I ended up #5 in the line. Two of the team were essentially ill for the rest of the trip up to the Fastnet and one for the remainder of the trip.
As for trying to pee, forget it! My wily Willy did not want to be found; after digging through outer foulies, inner jacket and trouser foul weather gear and two layers of underwear it hid away and when I finally found it with a freezing hand  it vanished again!
Because of the cold it was hard to keep hydrated and there was only really one of us who could deal with the buffeting and difficulties of making hot drinks and food down below.
As we went up the Irish Sea the water flattened particularly when we got into the lee of Ireland and the wind lessened unfortunately that caused us to slow down a LOT. I retired to a bunk and sleeping bag but was still cold especially my feet. We hit the Rock spot on and in relatively light winds rounded about 3 a.m. At that time we were 1 1/2 hour behind our 24 hour target but still the fastest to the Rock ever.
Fortunately it was a relatively clear night and Tuesday morning. The stars when you looked up were crystal clear; less humidity I guess in that wind.
Coming back down from the Rock the wind picked up after an hour or so and we had a long, fast run down to the Scilly Islands that we reached on a beautiful, clear but very cold morning! We were consistently in the high 20s and low to middle 30s for 5 hours or so. But the sea conditions were difficult because of the 126 angle we were steering. Steering, particularly into the rising sun, was a nightmare with the spray, angle of heel and instrument (in)visibility.
There were constant sail changes; well over 30 in the 24 hour period. Miles Seddon, our navigator, told me on the run down from the Rock that we had done over 20  by that time and he had stopped counting; It was J2 and a reef, J2 and two reefs, J3 and 3 reefs, back to J2 and 2 reefs, J1 and one reef, genoa and 1 reef, and on and on. We had wanted to practice reefing with the new slides we had on the main and we had more than enough practice. It was physically very demanding. Everybody helped each other, even when they were unwell; it was a great demonstration of team work and sheer guts.
PowerPlay rounded the Scillies and reached from there to the Lizard: passing Lands End was still difficult. From there we were able to harden up all the way to the finish in Plymouth. We had planned two tacks but got lifted at the end to finish on port tack at about 12:30 UTC (or 11:30 BST, hence the elapsed time confusion). Even the end was hard as we got hit by violent puffs as we approached the finish.

We were met by our rib and cameraman that brought out some pizza that was gratefully received and was for some of us the first hot food we had eaten in 24 hours. After some transfers, PowerPlay made its way back to the Hamble that it reached at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night after another fairly awful trip with strong winds and even snow! I actually hitched a ride with the cameraman  who towed the rib back and delivered me to the Hamble at 8:30 p.m. I promptly jumped in to the jacuzzi in the house and tingled all over as I warmed up!

I laid out all the food I had in the fridge and went to bed; when the light went out, I did too.
The team cleared up the boat after landing and got back to the house at 1230 Wednesday morning where they immediately used the jacuzzi to warm up getting the same sensations I had done.

When I woke up I found that the food I had laid out was all gone!

There were some absolutely memorable moments this trip; one of which was looking down the boat below from the bunk area at about 0600 Tuesday morning and working out how on earth I was going to get to the foul weather station by the ladder without injury as the boat was jumping, shuddering and shaking. It took me nearly 1/2  hour to cover that 30 feet! Getting my boots on to keep my feet dry then getting them off again at the other end were major accomplishments!
Would I do it again? NO! NEVER in an ice cold, April Northerly. On the other hand, if the wind was JUST right to get under 24 hours then POSSIBLY I might be persuaded!