“Talking Sailing” From My Archives. PE Yachties Complete 1979 Fastnet “Disaster”

By Richard Crockett

The iconic Fastnet Race is one that all dyed-in-the-wool offshore yachties want to compete in, yet few from our country ever get to do both Cowes Week and the Fastnet Race in the same year.

But in 1979 a crew of Port Elizabeth yachties set out to race, and little did they know that this was to be the toughest Fastnet Race ever – as a storm blew over the fleet and devastated it, with a consequence loss of life. There were 336 competing yachts.

Our lads from PE, with typical South African “vasbyt” mentality, completed the course in the Class IV yacht they had chartered for the occasion. Their yacht was a 35-footer named ‘Tronador’, a Ron Holland design.

The PE crew were: Rod van der Weele (skipper); Ray Alexander; Vaughan Giles; Paddy Skelton and Dr Renee Furtur. Anthony Abrahamson of the UK was sixth crew member.

There is scant information on just how their race ran, but in prevailing conditions our guys must have used every single last bit of seamanship and courage to fight their way through the stormy conditions.

(The press cuttings are from the Archives of Vaughan Giles who has given me a vast amount of his personal archives to digitise).

Tomorrow there will be more on the race.

“EP Yachtsman Tells of Fastnet Debacle”. READ IT HERE:  1979 – 08 0000 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001867 – OCR

“Six PE Yachtsmen for Cowes Week”. READ IT HERE:  1979 07 19 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001868 – OCR

“PE Yachtsmen in Cowes Storm”. READ IT HERE:  1979 08 15 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001866 – OCR

“Fastnet Fleet Sets Off on Racing Epic”. READ IT HERE:  1979 08 11 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001865 – OCR

“Catalogue of Cowes Disaster”. READ IT HERE:  1979 08 13 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001870 – OCR

“Fastnet Fury”. READ IT HERE:  1979 08 14 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001872 – OCR

“The Fastnet Tragedy”. READ IT HERE:  1979 08 15 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001869 – OCR 

“The Cruel, Cruel Sea”. READ IT HERE:  1979 08 15 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001871 – OCR

“Yachtsmen Drown in A Race to Disaster”. READ IT HERE:  1979 08 15 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001873 – stitched – OCR

“Victory Shattered by the Waves”. READ IT HERE:  1979 08 15 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001874 – stitched – OCR

“13 Victims. Fastnet Takes Terrible Toll”. READ IT HERE:  1979 08 15 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001875 – stitched – OCR

“Fastnet Horror. Survivors Tell Their Stories”. READ IT HERE:  1979 08 15 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001876 – stitched – OCR

“The Cruel Sea – in Pictures – part 1”. READ IT HERE:  1979 08 15 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001877 – stitched – OCR

“The Cruel Sea – in Pictures – part 2”. READ IT HERE:  1979 08 15 – Vaughan Giles Fastnet – 001878 – stitched – OCR