A much more complete treatment can be seen in the Fastnet race article at Wikipedia.
The Fastnet race is a yachting race in the United Kingdom, considered one of the classic offshore races. It happens every two years, and is a course of 608 miles. The course is unusual, as it begins off Cowes, travels to the Fastnet Rock off the southwest coast of Ireland, which they round, and then back to Plymouth via the south side of the Isles of Scilly. The prize is known as the Fastnet Challenge Cup.
Storms during the 1979 race resulted in the deaths of 17 competitors. This led to a major overhaul of the rules and the equipment required for the competition.
The race drew further attention from outside the sport in 1985 when the maxi-yacht Drum capsized after her experimental keel sheared off. Pop star Simon Le Bon, co-owner and crew member of Drum, was trapped under the hull with five other crew members for twenty minutes, until being rescued by the Royal Navy. The Search and Rescue Diver who brought him to safety was Petty Officer Air Crewman (POACMN) Larry "Scouse" Slater of 771 Naval Air Squadron. (Slater appeared on This Is Your Life on 9 April 1986.)
Le Bon repeated the race twenty years later on a refurbished Drum, but was again unable to complete the race -- this time because of very calm winds which slowed the progress of all of the competitors in the field. Faced with breaking a contract to perform a Duran Duran concert in Japan, Le Bon finally consented to be airlifted back to shore while the rest of the crew completed the race.
Le Bon's adventures in the Fastnet and Whitbread races were recounted in the 1986 documentary Drum - The Journey Of A Lifetime (now out of print). The singer wrote "Grey Lady Of The Sea" for the film's soundtrack; it was his first solo effort outside of Duran Duran.
- Royal Engineers Museum History of Royal Engineers Sports
- Le Bon back at the helm after brush with death
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