Mike Wigmore and Grant Kelly did very well in the 2010 Two Man Around Britain Race and finished second multihull over the line. Grant writes:
Thanks for the congratulations but thanks also for designing such a boat - it really looked after us and the interesting thing was how physically shattered the Class 40 crews were in port whereas we were off walking and doing the local sights.
Mike (skipper) has had a F-24 and an F-28R and I have had a F-27 and a F-28R. We wanted to do this two-handed race and couldn't find a bigger multihull so hit upon using Randy Smyth's old 31-1D warhorse Rocketeer 3, which was in the UK under the name Freebird.
During the first qualifying cruise the rudder fell off. Poor prior maintenance and we hadn't checked it, so red faces all round. At least we proved you can sail a 31 in up to 28kts wind without a rudder in any direction you like. I enclose a photo of Mike with the rudder horizontal in the cockpit coming back in through the Needles Channel last October. I balanced the sails and he used the outboard drive leg as a fine tune. Worked well, got us right back into the dock from 25 miles out, no panic, no thoughts of external assistance. How many boats could achieve that with ease?
The second go at qualifying was slightly interrupted by a bang when the starboard side of the daggerboard case let go. It was the internal foam that broke and the skins were fine although flexing. We continued to qualify.
We realized that although the basic hull etc was fine, the 1-D was over-rigged for our purpose in handicap in what is a heavy weather race, so we cut 18 inches off the boom and roach of the main and it balanced fine.
We had to put in an escape hatch to comply which was duly done according to your specification for distance from the rear beam mounts and which was perfect in some awful conditions. Never leaked a drop, never even thought about it.
We installed a sea toilet, miniature cooker and one or two other very light bits, but the real killer for a small boat is the approx 300kg of safety equipment you have to carry for this race including a lot of electronics (and so charging capacity), a 4 man ISO liferaft, 2 heavy anchors & chain, a full size inflatable dinghy, storm & heavy weather jibs, etc.
Whatever, we set off, won the start and were leading multihull after the first 260 mile stage to southern Ireland. After that we lead the whole fleet for the next 70 miles at a steady 14 kts reach until we ran into a classic Atlantic south-westerly swell with tide under it running into a 3 day established Force 6-7 North-easterly. It was an amazingly wet, sharp, stopping sea and sadly we just weren't heavy enough to power through that to windward and after 450 miles we had lost some 6 hours.
The next stage was 460 miles out from the Hebrides towards Iceland for about 80 miles and then running north-east for roughly 400 miles. This was F-31 territory. Up with the code 0, and I had the pleasure of helming for about 4 hours steady between 14 and 17 knots during which we neutralized almost all of the loss of the last leg.
The next leg was from 60.5 degrees North down to about 52 North and we were blessed with a northerly with a fetch of a couple of thousand miles which had been blowing at 30 knots for three days. That and a bit of adverse tide made it really tall and steep. I enclose a photo of me eating at 40 knots of wind....