UKFSC 2017 – A Record Breaking Year!
Published on: 30/06/2017
The 14th United Kingdom Firefighters Sailing Challenge (UKFSC) took place from the 8th to the 11th of May 2017 and provided another action-packed, fun-filled regatta along with a number of record-breaking moments for this annual yacht racing event.
Once again, the venue was the challenging waters of The Solent and this year all 30 of Sunsail’s identical 40’ racing yacht fleet were chartered to provide boats for a record 29 crews and a committee boat for race officers to organise the races. Crew numbers on each boat were between 8 and 10 and in total around 260 people took part in the event including support crew, sponsors and organisers.
This year saw a recordtwo all-women boats competing with the newcomers, Hampshire FRS’s Magenta, placed first fire service boat, second in the event overall and first Hampshire boat in the passage back race at the end of the event. This year, over 15% of the firefighters sailing in the event were women which is a record UKFSC is very proud of.
Round the world yachtswoman, Dee Caffari, was the guest speaker at the gala evening where she gave a fantastic talk and had everyone captivated with tales of her extraordinary life at sea. Dee has sailed around the world five times, is the first woman to have sailed single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions and the only woman to have sailed non-stop around the world a total of three times.
As in previous years, there were top sailors in the event and there are now 5 Clipper round the world sailors who have participated in UKFSC. The links between Clipper Ventures and UKFSC are strong, with at least 5 sailors either progressing from UKFSC to sailing round the world with Clipper, or having sailed round the world before competing in UKFSC as part of an emergency services crew.
Racing was very competitive this year as the standard keeps increasing. Met Police 2 were clear leaders in many of the races and won the event overall. Magenta were close behind and won first fire brigade boat whilst Team Cosmo, skippered by Gordon Alder, brought together sailors from 5 different fire and rescue services to win the White Sails class.
The last race of the event is the Passage Back race from Cowes to Portsmouth and is a handicap race that starts boats at different times according to their results over the previous two days. The race lasted between four and five hours and saw the later starting boats climbing up through the fleet. Hampshire 4 won the Spinnaker Class and Platinum sponsor, M J Quinn, won the Non-Spinnaker Class.
Fire Sport UK attended the final prize-giving event this year to honour Mick Stead with its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for his creation of the event some 14 years ago and on his announcement of his retirement from sailing.
UKFSC supports a number of charities with the help of its sponsors, supporters, crews and friends and family. The event has raised more than £85,000 for charitable causes over the 14 years the event has been running and this year saw donations going to The Firefighters Charity, The RNLI, Sail 4 Cancer and The Magenta Project.
A great deal of effort is required to run this event annually and the organising committee is made up of a group of serving and ex-firefighters from London Fire Brigade. All keen sailors, the team works tirelessly behind the scenes to make this special event enjoyable for everyone. The UKFSC patron is Mike Golding OBE, a round the world yachtsman who was a firefighter in his previous career and now one of the world’s most accomplished and successful offshore sailors.
To find out more about UKFSC or to get involved in organising, sponsoring or participating in the event next year, please follow the links below and a committee member will answer your query or put you in touch with someone who can.
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