Yes, I really was there. PM me if you want the details.
As journalists say, don't let the truth stand in the way of a good story.
It's now 42 years, so some of my memories of the other boats may be fading, but as I recall
, those who died did not come off boats that sank. People were panicking, jumping off floating boats into life rafts, and the rafts were blown off waves, rolled around, and those inside lost.
A number of raceboats were abandoned, but not out of wanting to.
helicopters were telling crews that they had one chance, get off now because we're not coming back. Or stay with the boat and hope. This is the scenario presented to Golden Apple of The Sun, as they had a crewman with a broken arm and they had a broken rudder
. They were rigging
the (compulsory by RORC rules) jury rudder
when the chopper turned up. Golden Apple was towed into Ireland
by a trawler
. It wasn't the only one. Others were taken into Cornwall.
The broken rudders that I was familiar with, were due to the carbon fibre being sold
to the marine
industry at the time, was little better than black string. Seconds. This has never been widely published, but was written in design journals.
The boat I was on was listed as 'unaccounted for' until we rounded the last point and headed for Plymouth. Only then did the Coast Guard record
our presence. All this despite the choppers flying over us at least twice a day! My family
were thinking I was dead until I hit the dock
in Plymouth and filled a payphone with coins.
I still recall
saying to the guy on the helm
in the worst of the blow( I was sat on the port aft side deck
helping the helmsman) 'what silly bugger is letting off fireworks in the middle of this?) I was pointing aft and to leeward. Only after did I realise that the fireworks were flares, from the smaller boats well behind.
I still carry the scars on my fingers from them going into the port runner block on one of the many masthead in water moments in the middle of the storm.There was a number of injuries on board, and luckily we had two of the top Irish surgeons on board.
I've been through worse since. People keep telling me that I should write a book. Maybe when I stop and look for something to do.
So, believe the press if you want, but, yes, I was there.