Country: United Kingdom
Boat name: Leviathan
Boat make: Phantom 28
Cruising area: South Coast
Join Date: Mar 2004
Our RB Observations
OK, I did a wee sum of Round Britain from our perspective, of our race.
I thought it would be interesting to some to hear one teams observations of others in the struggle to 'get round' while it’s still fairly fresh in my mind.
Whilst we were up against it in the lead up to June 21st, we were very aware of countless other teams also desparately late.
Barry Deakin for example was fighting with an engine that appeared to suffer low oil pressure. Barrus had supplied another motor and because of the staggered layout and narrow engine hatch arangement (the boat previously had a single Seatek, so hatch was very long, and very narrow) removing the rear/st/bd motor was a nightmare. Whilst we were panicing like mad in Port Solent to build our boat, Barry & Co were doing the same because their new (replacement) engine was showing signs of problems too. They were't happy as changing a motor was pretty much a whole days work for them, plus there were no more motors to be had! In the end, Barrus checked it over and were happy for them to run it as it was within spec. As we know, they made it round and won class (albeit with a few other nightmares), so I guess it was all worth it for them.
What can I say!
Poor old Tim, Eric and Nick! 3 of the nicest guys you could ever meet, worked their bollox off on the run up to the event, evenings, weekends, over night etc. They too turned up to Port Solent with a not quite finished race boat (though considerably more finished than ours), spent a good few hours changing all the hydraulic lines and running it up in the water (while we worked in the car park to build ours, listening to their motors start set the panic even deeper!)
As we now know, a mystery engine/electrical fault hampered their efforts pretty much all the way round the country. I believe they managed about 50 miles running out of Inverness before the bug struck again. Their determination was unbelievable! I think I'd have given up by Milford Haven, but they kept at it and that poor old CUV travelled some 4000 miles by road round, and up, and down Britain. I hope we'll see them excel at the CTC next month, they deserve it.
As we'd made it ‘in sorts’ to the start in Portsmouth, but were in the first start, we didn't get to see the submarine barrier nightmare, but can only imagine the grief after all that preparation from Buzzi, Ocean pirate etc (and the start boat, and Mike Bellamy) when they made contact with the concrete monsters that lay sleeping beneath the surface at Southsea.
It seems poor Fabio not only ripped a rudder half off, but as the water pickup for two of the motors is mounted on the trailing edge of the rudders, when he got on plane at the start, those two motors were starved of cooling, which resulted in engine damage also! He must have been right pissed off!
Andy Macateer and Mark 'my back hurts' Wildey had their own nightmare in the early stages of leg 1 when the Seateks in their Techno 40 'Venturer' hoovered up a skip load of seaweed clogging the sea strainers and associated pipework, necesetating a trip up Southampton water to Drivers Wharf where they were hurridly lifted to sort things out, again, not the greatest of starts to give you a mental boost at the start of such a long event.
So other than poor Marcus Hendricks, who's Supermarine Swordfish 'Blue Marlin' had given itself up to the waters off Start Point and 'Ocean Pirate', who'd also made contact with Southsea's ancient marine defence system and was undergoing repairs, we had all made it to Plymouth, either by water, or partially by water and partially by road. Roy & Toby in the Team Jersey B28 had bailed out in Lyme Bay with a niggling XR2 fuel pump problem, but where there with us by late afternoon, as was Hannes Bohinc.
It had been quite sloppy for the latter stages of the first leg and many crews were feeling pretty beaten up, not least the driver of Adam Youngers team entry, who was now laying in hospital with a sore back (Adam was throttling). Adams face was about 3 feet long as he told me that he'd broken his driver and the poor fella wanted to withdraw from the race. Sadly, most of the rest of the race was pretty much flat, so I'm sure he would have been fine had he carried on.
I spoke with Dave Allenby the afternoon we arrived in Plymouth (he was racing the Revenger 32 rib with twin Merc XS300's with Johnny Caulcutt 'Carbon Neutral' ) and asked whether he'd enjoyed the first leg, he paused for a second and replied, "No! It just seemed to be large hole after large hole from Lyme bay onwards, it was really very uncomfortable as we couldn't get on top of it". They went on to do pretty well, so I guess he must have started to enjoy it, at least a bit.
Tom & Charlie Williams-Hawkes in the ex Lady Arran Revenger 25SC 'Laura Lucy II', now re-named ‘TFO’ and re-engined with single Yanmar power, turned up looking like a couple of bruvvers! They’d had some sort of exhaust failure within the diesel engine bay of ‘TFO’, resulting in them getting completely ‘sooted up’ literally from head to toe. Quite a sight, and again, testament to the sheer willpower to finish every leg of this event. Respect.
It goes without saying that the highlight for me at Plymouth, was finding myself confronted by the race director, Mike Lloyd holding a camera and wearing a grin! My fine physique shown off to the max by my body hugging, soggy, too tight and frankly ridiculous wet suit...He will be punished for that photo!
We arrived at the disused naval base in Milford haven by road due to the cancelled leg round Lands End and across the Bristol Channel. We turned up to find Jeff Hunton in a workshop, with the engine covers of 'Team Garmin' up, soot everywhere (A sight we would become well acustomed to). It seems they requisitioned the workshop on arrival to perform their repairs. They had tents set up in there, their vehicles and tools etc, all very cosy.
The team’s throttleman, Tony 'maddog' Hamiltom was persuading a door to open on another building because they'd sussed that hot water might be available in there. All in all, 'Team Garmin' were making themselves as comfortable as possible for their coming night of hard work changing turbochargers etc. It turns out that the engine manufacturer had opted to use the turbo's from the automotive fitment of the engine, these don't appear to be up to the constant full throttle operation in a race boat and were failing rather regularly. They changed quite a few over the 10 days!
The morning of the Milford to Bangor leg was interesting, not just for us with the GPS antenna theft, and loss of my helmet cam, but poor old Fabio was still struggling to get his boat back into a fit state for racing. About 30 mins before we were set to head out to the muster area, I passed fabio standing at the back of his truck, "Are you ready Fabio" I asked, "NO! everything is bad!" he replied. OH,....I looked at the pile of oily gearbox parts he had in his hand and 'walked on'.
As we know, Jamie Edwards & Jon Lyndsey ran a scorching leg from Milford to Bangor, but on the following day, both he and us suffered technical issues. Ours being the first Harmonic balancer failure, and his being lumps of jellified silicone rubber floating about in his fuel tank finding it's way into a fuel line, getting caught at a fiiting and starving the motor. He made it in just behind us, obviously we were both just pleased to have at least completed the leg, as this is all important if you want to be a 'Gold Finisher'.
Inverness gave us all a couple of days to catch up with things, make repairs, servicing etc.
We changed our harmonic balancer, Jamie changed a saddle on one of his XS200's, I think Roy & Toby did the same.
Team 'Northern Spirit' did some celebrating in the evening and it seems a bit of a argument insued. Not sure of the details, just that a few 'FKK's' were thrown and when Steve Hutch came down in the morning to the boat, the GPS, Compass and navigators lifejacket were gone, along with the navigator! oops.
Steve decided that was the end of the Round Britain race for team 'Northern Spirit', and the Flipper was hooked up and headed back to Blackpool.
While working on the boat at the B&Q site I had a nice moment of 'doing my good deed for the day'. An elderly couple wandered over and asked if we knew where they might be able to get a race program from as they'd followed the race in '69 and '84 as it came through their town and had collected programs from both. TD directed them toward the race control office and suggested they might be able to find one there.
Realising that race control would be unlikely to donate the programme FOC to this dear old couple, I wizzed over there and bought two, and looked around for the couple who I found wandering around outside the briefing tent over the bridge by the waterside. The lady was asking more people about the programs. I went over to the old fella and said, are you the couple looking for a '08 Round Britain program? He smiled and replied an obvious yes, and the look on his face when I said 'there ya go' and handed it to him was priceless. As I walked away I could hear him calling his wife in an excited voice.
Aint it lovely when such a simple jesture can get such a lovely reaction. Twoz a real pleasure.
This leg from Inverness to Edinburgh was the longest of the race at about 241 statute miles. We managed about 25 before the harmonic balancer on the other motor let go, leaving us 220 odd miles to do at 35 mph-ish. It was reasonably calm again, so wouldn't have been a winning leg for us anyway, but obviously added a great deal of time to our total. The Goldfish 29 'Sealbay' ran faultlesly, again!
'Mr Mako', Jamie’s SR9 had more saddle trouble and their incredibly hard working shore team spent the night in Edinburgh rebuilding it all, again! Still, at least yet again they had managed to finish, retaining the all important 'gold' status.
Team Jersey again had more than their fair share of aggro in the form of a failed trigger on one their XR2's, pulled into Stonehaven to try and sort things out, and made it into Edinburgh within the time allowed.
There was plenty of talk in Edinburgh about the various penalties being dished out, especially the ones from the start in Inverness for 'interfering with the start' etc. I've already made my feelings known about all this, so won't go over it again.
Jamie & team, along with one of the Revenger ribs had got themselves into a workshop at the marina to carry out their various saddle and other OB related issues, as I said, Jamie’s team in particular worked their guts out to get it done during the night.
558 Cinzano had ground to a halt about 50 miles into the Inverness>Edinburgh leg, and were now on their way home for some more diagnostic work, and would catch up up again in Lowestoft. Sadly the gremlins were still present when they did!
So, off to Newcastle on leg 6.
We had changed the harmonic balancer in Edinburgh for the one off our spare motor, and though too calm for us to do very well, we did the leg without any notable incidents. However, running eastwards from Edinburgh, before the turn south, there was a particularly lumpy stretch for ten miles or so. We had seen Team Jersey pass us with ease from the start, then as we ran into the rougher section, they began to flounder a bit and dropped back behind us, out of sight until they passed us about 30-40 miles later in the calm. We spoke with Jamie later and he reckoned they’d stuffed and swamped the SR9 at least ten times through the rough filling the boat to the top of the tubes.
The Goldfish 29 also reported that for the first time ever in that boat, they’d stuffed and swamped it.
Once in Newcastle, we set about changing an engine mount that had been broken we think, on the first lumpy leg to Plymouth and had gone unnoticed. We had found a piece of broken cast alloy in the bilge whilst in Inverness, but were unable to find it's origin and had concluded that it had been chucked in there as a joke by a friendly competitor as a red herring. That piece of alloy was a fragment of our engine mount! Also, yet again, the balancer changing tools were out, as we now had a spare to fit from a production batch other than the one our motors were from.
'Team Garmin' had had a rather unusual incident, where in a rougher part of the leg, ‘maddog’ Hamilton had taken a bad knock and wound up on the floor screaming in agony. Tony had some medical issues a few years ago and had had some surgery on his stomach, it seems this surgery had been disturbed by this knock rendering him severely disabled. A call was made and the air-sea rescue helicopter was soon overhead to airlift 'Maddog' off to Grimsby hospital! Jeff proudly showed me the footage of Tony’s departure that he’d shot on his camera. All very dramatic.
'Team Garmin' had also suffered another mechanical issue (in addition to their on-going turbo problem) with a failing drive plate, so it was business as usual for them with the boat being craned and yet another long night removing engines & gearboxes.
Silverline were also struggling with engine and driveline issues, I saw Drew in the morning, looking very long faced, it seems he knew they were going to be starting the leg with a less than healthy motor.
During the next days leg to Lowestoft, we passed Silverline, off the plane about 40 miles from the finish line. We later heard that they’d beached the boat to try and change a prop to one they could plane with on one motor, but were unable to get the boat off the beach. A tow was needed! Another disappointing day for Drew & Jan, and another long night for the engineers when they finally arrived in Lowestoft.
Jamie & Jon in Mr Mako had flown again on this leg in the favourable conditions averaging upper 60’s, with the Goldfish 29, 30 minutes behind (and us a further 11 behind them).
One team that really needs some recognition is the all girl team of Scorpion Dubios. They were really very professional and slogged on whatever the weather. Their background as serious sailing ladies showed, as their endurance seemed unfaltering. Whilst mooring up in Lowestoft, the girls moored alongside us having just refuelled (and raced for 240 miles), and unlike most of the teams who wanted to head straight for the bar, or bed, the first thing they did after mooring up was to start scrubbing the decks and washing the boat down! And it’s not even their own boat!!
I’ve never witnessed discipline quite like it and it looked a real 'team effort'.... Huge respect.
With loads of talk about horrendous conditions for the following day, we were both hopeful of a good result and maybe some breakages on the other RB4 teams and also very conscious that it would be tough going for us too. As it turned out, at least half of the leg was flat calm and certainly no good for us to get the best from our boat. This leg belonged to Team Jersey who vanished at the start and we didn’t see them again until we pulled into Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth! A well deserved class win.
Now, I’m sure I’ve missed some stuff here, so will edit this post as and when the details comes back to me.
"I Agree with everything you say really!" - John Cooke to Jon Fuller - 26-01-2013