The Finish of the Fastnet Race 1931

Olin Stephen’s Dorade
Excerpt from Yachting magazine, written by Weston Martyr (founder of the Fastnet Race) – Oct 1931

Two little pyramids appeared simultaneously around Penlee Point, to be revealed by the long glass as Patience and Highland Light, running neck-and-neck on the last lap of their 600-mile course. Patience’s big spinnaker went up as they squared away on the dead run in to the finish before a 25 M.P.H. breeze, but Highland Light seemed to be in trouble with her sail, and by the time she got it set she had fallen a little astern. They tried to set it in stops, but they refused to break out, so they had to get it down again and set it flying.

When Highland Light did get going she soon began to close up the gap, and the two big cutters came boiling along, racing for the honour of being first home, and the “record” for the fastest time over the Fastnet course. For the last half-mile both boats were racing hard by the lee, and I held my breath and stood by to watch a couple of spectacular jibes and two 80-foot masts falling overboard. Martin, at Patience’s helm, tells me he was holding his breath, too; but he did not dare jibe unless Dudley Wolfe did – and Wolfe held right on.

Patience got the gun, 1min 18sec ahead of Highland light, but 2 hours behind her on corrected time. “A fine race,” I thought to myself, “and I’m glad Highland Light got it, because she’s come a long way.” Then I looked out to sea to observe Water Gypsy less than 3 miles off and coming along like a train of cars. She finished only 20 minutes behind the first pair with over 10 hours of time allowance up her sleeve, and I said, “Fine! I’ll go aboard and congratulate McMillan on winning the Fastnet Cup, and as old Sam Wetherill’s there, too, maybe I’ll get a drink.” But then I saw Dorade, two miles away with 19 hours of her time allowance to spare, and I gave up the game of spotting the winner.

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