On 31 August 2017, for the fourth year, Disability Snowsport UK (DSUK) ran the Solent Challenge just off the coast of Portsmouth. Fifteen yachts participated in this fundraising event including two crews from Crystal - Supersailors and The Reely Nauti Crew - competing for the honour of being Solent Challenge Champions 2017.
Guest of honour was Sir Steve Redgrave and his team of sailors consisted of British Association of Snowsport instructors and their partners.
The ten members of each yacht received a crash course on sailing during the morning and then headed out on Sunsail's 40-foot yachts past the British navy's largest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth. Once out on the open water, the sails were hoisted, engines switched off and the sailors began to feel the boat move under its own power. The weather was perfect - enough wind to give the thrill of speed through the water, but not enough to make anyone uncomfortable.
Everyone was allocated a task from the skipper and first mate, whether sail hoisting, winching or help to balance the boat by sitting out on the side - and most had a chance to steer at some stage.
After the first race, the picnic lunch out on the water was highly welcomed and much to surprise of the participants, an ice-cream boat (with music and all) pulled up beside the yachts. Ice-cream for pudding, with a flake, of course.
Shortly after the second race started, one of the competitors yachts had a man overboard, but he was rescued within minutes and continued sailing with his team. Downwind, all the boats used huge billowing racing spinnakers (aka "Whittakers" by the Crystal crew), the competition became fierce and rumours are that one of the Crystal boat collided with a Doom Bar boat, but no damage was done.
As the Solent is the passageway for the great liners of the past and present, the regatta boats got in the way of two gigantic container ships creating over three-meter high waves which was the "highpoint of the day" one of the Crystal participants commented.
At the end of the day, all yachts motored back through the harbour for the prize giving and BBQ dinner. The Crystal teams came 7th and 8th out of 15 yachts in the competition and raised over £3600 for the charity.
DSUK are running the Solent Challenge again in 2018. Will you join?
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