January / February 2024
It was a wild and windy start for the 2023 Rolex Fastnet Race last July. Winds of over 40 knots screamed down The Solent as a fleet of 430 yachts battled across the starting line off the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The wind was from the southwest, which meant the fleet had to beat to windward as it headed past The Needles at the island’s western extremity, down the English Channel, and onward to the Irish Sea. One boat sank, four were dismasted, and more than 100 entrants retired within the first 24 hours. Who could blame them?
Despite the dire conditions, one little boat toughed it out long after many much bigger competitors had given up. The 28' MALUKA had been shipped 11,000 miles from Australia, and nothing was going to stop her highly committed crew from completing the course. She might have been the smallest and the oldest boat in the fleet, but her progress in the first 24 hours was nothing short of outstanding as she hugged the south coast of England, sailing the shortest possible course, while the “big boys” fought it out in the English Channel.
The next day, skipper Sean Langman summed things up in his own inimitable way: “Been a little fruity out here,” he wrote on Facebook. “Little MALUKA and crew toughed out a big night. Now reaping beautiful sailing.”
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