by Lizzie Ward
Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta and Reunion 2011 is to be held in Alicante, Spain, from 1 to 5 November.
Adventure - Ninth Volvo Legends 2011 entry
Two-time Whitbread yacht Adventure, the British Royal Navy entrant in 1973 and 1977, will be represented at the Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta by her sister ship Dasher, raced by original members of Adventure’s crew and joined by some of the crew from British Satquote Defender, the British Joint Services maxi boat entry in 1989-90.
This latest addition brings the Legends fleet to nine, and with several more boats likely to confirm their participation a fleet of around 15 is now looking possible for the race in Alicante in November.
Adventure, a production Nicholson 55 sloop, competed in the first two Whitbreads, finishing second in 1973-74 and seventh in 1977-78. She was later given to the Russian Navy and is now lying in St Petersburg. During her second race around the world, she was skippered in part by the late Ian Bailey-Willmot, former Race Director of the Whitbread Round the World Race and later Chairman of the Race Committee.
Adventure was one a number of boats were ordered as training yachts by the British Ministry of Defence. Designed by Raymond Wall, Adventure was immediately commissioned as the Royal Navy entrant, after the Whitbread Brewery announced in 1972 they would sponsor the first fully crewed race around the world.
Adventure had four crews, one for each leg of the race, so as many people as possible could be trained and gain experience in what was destined to become the world’s premier ocean race. The crew was chosen from hundreds of volunteers who had sailed Adventure during 1972.
The boat was modified for the race and sported a taller mast, a cutter rig, better crew protection in the cockpit and a basic interior. During her first race, these modifications helped the crew to victories in legs one, three and four of the race, and second place overall. Leg two was disappointing for the ambitious crew, as Adventure’s rudder and stock separated whilst crossing the Agulhas Bank.
Commander Colin Watkins, part of Adventure’s crew, and later a skipper of British Satquote Defender, remembers at the start of the third leg, from Sydney to Rio de Janeiro, that Adventure was weighed down to the gunwales with 500 cans of Whitbread beer, 50 bottles of wine and a couple of cases of spirits. 'Plus of course tons of tinned food and bags of flour for baking,' he recalls.
In the Southern Ocean, the crew planned to be kept warm by a temperamental charcoal stove: ‘in theory it warmed the boat, but all it ever did was smoke us out and burn through our socks’, remembers Colin Watkins.
Winds of up to 60 knots were recorded by some of the fleet and onboard Adventure ice was pushed out of the way using spinnaker poles. When Commander Ian Bailey-Willmot, by now in charge, discovered a leak, it took four days to find where the water was coming in, due to the violent conditions.
Arriving at Cape Horn, in 1974, Adventure was greeted by HMS Endurance, which was on patrol and saluted the boat with the firing of guns. Unfortunately, one wad from a saluting gun went straight through Adventure’s number one jib.
Adventure won the 8,370-nautical mile leg to Rio de Janeiro, but as she crossed the line at midnight, there was not a soul to be seen. 'No one was there to welcome us after 42 days at sea, and we came first,' says Colin Watkins. Apparently, the Race Committee had decided that Adventure could not possibly finish that night and had retired bed.
Rig: Masthead Sloop
Designer: Raymond Wall
LOA 55’ (14.0m)
Finished second 1973-74
Elapsed time 162.19
Skippers: Patrick Bryans, Malcolm Skene, George Vallings and Roy Mullender
Elapsed time 158.14
Skippers: James Watts, David Leslie, Ian Bailey-Willmot and Robin Duchesne
Entries in the Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta and Reunion
1. Copernicus 1973-74 (45’: the smallest boat ever to race)
2. Great Britain II/Whitbread Heritage (Maxi - took part in the first five races
3. Rothmans 1989-90 (Maxi)
4. Berge Viking 1981-82 (Swan 57)
5. Charles Jourdan 1989-90 (Maxi)
6. Steinlager 2 1989-90 (Maxi Ketch)
7. Gauloises III 1981-82 (62’ Sloop) sailed by the French crew of Grand Louis/Japy-Hermes and Kriter IX
8. Traité de Rome 1977-78 and 1981-82 (51’ aluminium sloop)
Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta website