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Nick Bubb recounts his final passage home with Alex Haworth on the Shetland Round Britain and Ireland race

Tuesday July 11th 2006, Author: Nick Bubb, Location: United Kingdom
With immense pride Alex Haworth and I brought Kenmore across the finish line in Plymouth yesterday morning. It was less than three weeks ago that we were drifting just southwest of St Kilda with no mast and almost no hope of getting round, let alone doing it within the time limit. The support of Kenmore, Aggmore and all of the other project sponsors was amazing and our endeavour seemed to draw interest where ever we went. Thank you to all our friends both old and new, I think I'm more relieved to have finished for you guys than myself, as I could not bear to think of all the effort that went in if we didn't make it!

In brief, Alex and I had mainly 10 to 15 knots from the southwestern quadrant for the final leg - not entirely unexpected but still upwind the whole way. Kenmore, after various improvements at each of the stopovers was back to her best. It is hard to believe that this boat was designed well over 15 years ago, she not only looks amazing but the performance is incredible and we flew down the east coast and along towards the finish passing several other race boats. She is a credit to her designer John Stuttleworth and owner David Barden: thank you to you both for giving us such an exciting boat to race.

With only 50 miles to go to the finish and the forecast for a building breeze, we were well reefed down when all of a sudden the night became pitch black and we were hit with winds gusting well over 40 knots. We had just the mainsail up with three reefs in (very deep reef) and as the sea built we were unable to make any headway upwind. The storm jib came out but there was no way we could risk any more sail. The breaking waves were threatening to flip us over and we were both aware that it was a very serious situation. We decided to try to fore reach (by sitting hove to, with the sails not working but not flapping) towards Brixham which was about 10 miles away. If we had been hit by these conditions in open sea we would have just run downwind with warps and sea anchor trailing to slow us but with being so close to the south coast and with the southwest winds this was not an option as we would have been up on the rocks in hours.

As we constantly worked the boat to avoid ending side on to the big waves, we took it in turns to get into our survival suits and prepare all the safety kit, we also notified the race office of our position. As dawn broke we slipped into Torbay and our little Suzuki outboard from Seamark Nunn just managed to push us along against the breeze up into Brixham marina. With the wind forecast to ease in the evening we spent the day making final checks and left again around 2200. Once we got back out into Torbay it was apparent that the wind had dropped significantly and we sailed round Start Point and into Plymouth Sound without incident. At no stage did either of us panic and I believe we handled the situation very well. It was just one more test for our little trimaran and our endurance!

This race has been an incredible experience and I have certainly learnt a lot about small multihull sailing as well as discovering inner strength I did not know I had. The race organisers, the Royal Western Yacht Club and in particular Peter Taylor have a done a fantastic job and I'm sure I speak for the whole fleet in congratulating them on a job very well done.

Bill Thomson of Kenmore homes and Chris Marsden of Aggmore Property had this to say about the achievements of all involved with the project:

"We at Kenmore Homes would like to congratulate Nick and his team on their remarkable achievement of completing the Round Britain and Ireland Race. As we all know Kenmore was dismasted off St Kilda and in my experience almost without exception, when that happens during a race that is the end of the race for that particular boat. To sail the boat under a jury rig to the Isle of Barra and then arrange for spare parts to be sent up from Southampton to what is probably one of the furthest points from their home port and subsequently carrying out these repairs with limited equipment is a remarkable achievement. To then go further and complete the race passing other competitors on the final leg was nothing less than outstanding."

W G R Thomson
Chairman 'Kenmore Homes'

"Nick and his team have shown outstanding determination and commitment throughout the Shetland Round Britain and Ireland race. He and his team maintained their positive outlook, despite having a huge setback. Their shear bloody mindedness, turned their race from disaster to success and we are proud to be associated with them."
Chris Marsden
Chairman Aggmore Property

For me it is onto the next project now, the Route du Rhum. We have a charter contract to sign by the end of July if the project is to happen, so it is on with the suit and off to try to draw people in. The new 40 footer is in build in France and there are 30 boats entered in the class, which is easily the biggest of the fleet. The program is a launch in late August/early September, then sea trials followed by a 1000 mile qualifier and a race start on 29 October. After this we hope to compete in the Caribbean crewed race circuit, with various sponsors and guests before delivering the boat back to the UK at the end of April.

Thank you for all your support over the past months, it's been fantastic and yes, we are going to win the next one!! For those of you East Coast based, I have the honour of opening the new showroom at Seamark Nunn in Felixstowe ( www.seamarknunn.com ) on Friday at 1400 and it would be great to catch up there.

Many thanks to all our sponsors: The Kenmore Property Group, Kenmore Homes, Aggmore Commercial Property, Flexistore, Gill, Element Eyewear, Plastimo, Seamark Nunn, Tacktick, Quantum Sails, Ocean Yacht Systems, Burgess Salmon, Green Design and Harken.

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