Andrew sets sail for Fastnet challenge

By John Hutchins in Sailing

A YACHTING enthusiast from Tavistock is taking part in the biggest test of his sailing life by taking part in one of the world’s most challenging races.

Andrew Alcock, the chief operating officer at Yelverton based Insurance Brokers, T H March, has left behind the safe world of insurance to realise a long-held ambition when he sets sail on Sunday to take part in the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race.

He is part of a six-man crew on the Grand Soleil 50, class two yacht, Emma Claire.

The gruelling 605-nautical mile race is renowned as the world’s largest and most prestigious off-shore sailing race.

Starting from Cowes, Isle of Wight, the race will head westward, along the English Channel before crossing the Celtic Sea towards the Fastnet Rock off the southern tip of Ireland. Once there, the yachts head back to the finish at Plymouth.

The race is organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club and has been an established fixture on the ocean racing circuit since 1925.

With close to 400 competitors, this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race will be the largest off-shore race of all time. The huge event is a test of strategy and skill with challenging tidal currents and changeable weather.

Andrew, aged 54, who lives at Moorshop near Horrabridge, has a wife Helen and two sons in their 20s - Ben and Jeff. It is not just on the high seas where Andrew is active — he is also a member of Tavistock Athletic Club and the Stannary Hash Harriers and has trod the boards with the Bere Alston Players.

Andrew told the Times: ‘You couldn’t get much further away from my normal world. I am beyond excited about this race! It has taken months of planning and preparation for Emma Claire and the crew with lots of qualification stages. I have done a fair amount of sailing over the years, but never anything of this scale — I must admit to feeling pretty daunted.

‘However, we have a great crew of six, including a fantastic skipper, with plenty of experience on board. We expect to be at sea for four to five days.’

He added: ‘Strangely, the idea of being on a yacht for the best part of a week doesn’t appeal to everyone — including my wife, Helen. ‘Buffeted by high seas, feeling freezing cold, uncomfortable and maybe just a tiny bit sea sick – I can’t wait. It is of course an epic adventure and I am thrilled to be taking part. All a great excuse to buy new sailing gear of course, and I think we are going to need it.’

His friend and work colleague Shirley Smale added: ‘Andrew has always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie, who loves cycling and skiing.

‘Everybody at T H March think it is a very brave thing for him to do and we will all be following his progress and that of the Emma Claire with great interest.’

Times readers can follow the journey of the Emma Claire via the Royal Ocean Racing Club’ Fastnet links: royaloceanracingclub, or at the website at

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Mrs K · 7 days ago · Report

You know that the Fastnet race actually started last Sunday (6th) not this Sunday coming?

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