Keen sailor Ian Hoddle and fellow yachtsman Conrad Manning have completed the Sevenstar Round Britain race raising £7,000 for children and young people with cancer.
The pair decided to take on the challenge of sailing non stop around the country in all weathers after Ian's nephew was diagnosed with cancer in early 2014. Here Ian tells the story of their journey.
"My six-year-old nephew James was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor earlier this year. The magnificent team at CLIC Sargent has been supporting James as his family fights this horrible disease; so it seemed fitting to undertake a big personal challenge and raise funds for this fantastic charity.
We departed from Cowes on the Isle of Wight in one of the world’s most demanding offshore sailing races, the 1,800-mile non-stop Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. We were attempting to complete the race on my yacht called Rare, the smallest boat at 33ft in the 28-boat fleet.
With the remnants of Hurricane Bertha passing across the UK we had 30+ knots of wind and big seas as we set off East towards Dover. The windy conditions were already taking a toll on the race fleet with five boats retiring due to damage.
Battling waves taller than houses
Four days after the start we successfully rounded the most northerly point on the course. He managed the first call home to our loved ones which was an emotional moment. We also received the great news that we were leading the two handed class, leading Class Two and were fifth overall.
The bad news was that as we started heading south we encountered the worst weather of our trip. Gale force eight with enormous waves taller than a house arrived within a few hours.
We battled on through the night, too rough to sleep or eat as we continued south past the Outer Hebrides. By 6am the following morning we awaited the next scheduled maritime weather forecast on the radio. Unfortunately the news was not good, the storm was forecast to get worst, increasing to severe gale force nine!
Finishing for James
We were exhausted, wet and worried. It was during this time that I drew a great deal of strength from thinking of James and the commitment I had given to him and all our sponsors for CLIC Sargent that we would finish this race.
Our number one objective was to finish; so we took the decision to seek shelter and protect the boat and us whilst the next weather system came through. After six ours we made it to the Isle of Lewis, anchored and hid from the storm. 14 hours later we went back out to sea as the worst of the gale started to subside.
Slowly as we sailed south the weather improved, allowing us to make great progress south, along the west coast of Ireland and then a very fast and windy passage from the Fastnet Rock to the Scilly Isles.
Exactly 12 days after the start, we crossed the finish line at Cowes making us the smallest boat to have ever finished this race in its history. Most importantly we had raised £7,000 for CLIC Sargent. Thank you to everyone who supported and sponsored James and ourselves.”