Laser Pico Challenge 2016
Challenge completed 15-06-16 Distance 75 miles Time 14 hours 8 minutes
Dave and his support team departed Dartmouth on a Motorboat, with the Pico lashed to the foredeck, destined for Guernsey the day before the intended challenge day. The forecast for challenge day was a perfect SW F4-5, however the motor accross the channel was a rather uncomfortable SW F5-7 with the wind on the beam.
Once in Guernsey, Dave and the team got stuck into final checks and prepping the little Laser Pico for the journey ahead. There came a time when it was nearly all called off as the forecast deteriorated later in the day predicting SW F4-5 with 3-4 hours of F6 mid channel. This would be too much wind to sustain for any length of time, and if things went bad, there would be no safe way to recover the Pico in those sea conditions and she'd have to be cut free.
The 5am forecast changed back to much more favourable conditions, SW F3-4 with F5 for a time mid channel. With the green "GO" light burning bright, it was all systems go and Dave set off just after 6am from the sleepy little harbour at the North East end of Guernsey.Once clear of Guernsey the sea conditions picked up to a westerly 6-8ft atlantic swell combined with a SW 4ft wind chop. Dave said it was vital to get into the routine of regular vitamin/mineral drinks and protein bars every 30-45 minutes to keep him fuelled up.
After a couple of hours, dolphins came to play offering the most spectacular sight. Dave said, 'Watching them swim past just under the dinghy a few feet away was simply incredible'. The first real obstacle Dave had to deal with was negotiating the busy shipping lanes. The English Channel shipping lanes see hundreds of cargo vessels pass through them every day. Each of the two shipping lanes are only 5 miles wide which funnels all traffic into them.
Numerous changes of course were required to pick his way through the flow of container ships. Once out the other side, Dave was almost half way there!When the F5 winds came, the little Pico was rocketing along and surfing at 8-9 knots. Unfortunately, the perfect winds only lasted a few hours, and progress slowed.The approach to the UK's South Coast saw the weather turn to drizzle and visibility down to just a mile or so at times.
Once back in the bay with the finish in sight, a couple of small boats came out to greet Dave as the wind gradually died off at the end of the day. Dockside, there was a large gathering of followers eagerly waiting to see Dave's safe return.
Touch down was to the blare of fog horns, cheers and the popping of champagne corks!
Dave described the finish as a life defining moment.
At the time of this going to press, Dave has raised nearly £6,000 for Rowcroft Hospice.