The Malta Independent 21 September 2019, Saturday

Jarhead Young Sailor’s Foundation Crew return from successful Rolex Fastnet Campaign

Maria Vella--Galea Wednesday, 21 August 2019, 18:33 Last update: about 27 days ago

The young crew representing the Jarhead Young Sailor's Foundation have just returned from their successful Rolex Fastnet Campaign.  The campaign was led buy experienced sailor Nikki Henderson and consisted of Fabio Galea, Emilie Gregory, Greg Mifsud Orlando, Patrice Pace, Saul Vassallo, Francesca Zammit and Zachary Zammit.

This was this crew's second international participation, following their recently successful participation in the Royal Ocean Racing Club Cowes - Dinard - St. Malo Race, as well as a Channel Race on the J/109 JYS Jan.

The Rolex Fastnet is the Royal Ocean Racing's  Club's biennial flagship event, which attracted another record-sized fleet of 388 boats. The 605 nautical mile race is one of the world's largest offshore yacht races and the course sees the fleet race west down the English Channel, between Land's End and the Scilly Isles, across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock, four miles off southwest Ireland, back south leaving Bishop Rock and the Scilly Isles to port and then, on past the Lizard, to the finish off Plymouth.

The Foundation's crew, competed in IRC Class 3, one of the largest Classes in the diverse fleet, which saw many of the world's top offshore racing teams competing with smaller amateur crews.  Weather conditions were generally moderate, with a prolonged beat all the way to the Fastnet Rock.  Nevertheless, the crew had to contend with the infamous tides that the course is well known for.

The J/109 JYS Jan's performance was notable, having finished in an overall position of 103 from a fleet of 388 starters. More significant is the twenty third place in Class 3, which saw 84 boats and an eight place in Class 3B where they competed against forty-four boats.

The most noteworthy result was produced amongst the J/109 fleet, where JYS Jan emerged first from the J/109 fleet of sixteen boats including Jolly Jar Tar of the Royal Navy SA, Mojo Rising of J109 Racing Ltd, Ajax of the Royal Armoured Corp YC, Red Arrow of the Royal Air Force SA and Trojan of the Royal Engineers YC.

"It was a very demanding race  - both from a mental and physical aspect. I couldn't ask for a better team since we all knew each other for years and we're all very good friends so it made the experience a fun one. Am so happy to have been given this opportunity as it was an amazing adventure." Patrice Pace

Despite the fact that some of the crew do not have experience in offshore races, they were ably guided by skipper Nikki Hendersen. The training that was undertaken in preparation for this race paid off.  The crew registered a twenty third place  over sixty seven finishers in their Class. Seventeen boats did not finish the race. 

"The fact that we completed the race was already a great achievement. Ending with such a great result was just amazing. I learnt a lot from the whole experience. A thoroughly memorable experience that I will remember and appreciate for the rest of my life". - Emilie Gregory

Now back in Malta, the crew are getting ready and looking forward to the 40th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, hosted by the Royal Malta Yacht Club. Another 606 nautical mile race, the Middle Sea Race is considered to be at par with the Fastnet and the other 600 nautical miler - the Sydney - Hobart Race. 

"It is immensely satisfying to see the results of the Foundation's work being reaped in such a way.   In just a few months, we have seen our crews developing their skills, producing respectable results and further building on their character" explained Wilfrid Buttigieg, Administrator for the Foundation. "Our work is not ready though. Apart from preparing the crew for the forthcoming Rolex Middle Sea Race, our Schools Programme has also gained momentum and we have been welcoming a number of young students from local schools to the sport of sailing.  We already are seeing a lot of potential which we hope will develop further as we go along".

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