A team of eight Army reservists are set to race across the Irish Sea in a 42 foot yacht to take on one of the toughest sailing challenges in the northern hemisphere….

The Rolex Fastnet event is set to take place in August this year, but training is well underway to ensure that everyone on-board is ready to work as a team, manage on limited food supplies and operate in a confined space when they are suffering from fatigue in the middle of the Irish Sea.

A rehearsal for the event took place recently in Gosport where the reservists taking part in the race sailed from Portsmouth to Weymouth and around the Isle of Wight.

One of the reservists taking part in the event is Major Bruce Spencer from 162 Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps based in Nottingham.

Bruce explained that he is looking forward to the challenge the race will bring: “I have never raced in an event of this magnitude, but it is about the adventure and pitting yourself and the crew against the raw elements and others involved in the competition.

“This is what military service is all about, pushing ourselves to the limit, mastering new environments and beating down fear. We are all learning to deal with the weather and above all are all learning how to take care of each other in such an unstable environment.”

Each of the six crew have qualified in a range of different sailing courses ahead of the voyage, with a particular focus having been on First Aid and sea survival.

The crew will be on-board one of over 200 boats taking part in the Fastnet race over a six-day period, which will depart from Cowes in the Isle of Wright, past Plymouth, across the Irish Sea and around the Fastnet Lighthouse, before travelling back towards Plymouth completing 600 miles from start to finish.

Bruce’s team will be sailing on the yacht Osprey that has been specially refurbished for the race. He continued: “This is the race of a lifetime for me. It is one of the toughest sailing races around and makes huge demands on every member of the crew.

“As a soldier I am used to taking on challenges, but this is a mighty big challenge and one that I am determined to overcome. Army training gives me the confidence to know that I can take on anything. I’m sure the crew and I will achieve great things in this tough competition.”

Among the team is Lance Corporal Allison Bibby, a mother of three with 282 Squadron of 162 Regiment Royal Logistics Corps based in Nottingham. She said: “This is a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to a great adventure.”

Private Harry Davis, another Nottingham based reservist with 871 Squadron of 162 Regiment said ahead of his involvement with the team: “I only joined the Army in the last six months and I cannot believe I have done so much. I did not know there was so much available and I am being paid to go!”