Mother and son take part in Atlantic yacht race

A MOTHER and son from Steeple Morden have just competed in a 20 day yachting race from Spain to the Caribbean.

Debra Noble and her 19-year-old son Perry took part in the World Cruising Club’s annual Arc race from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, to St Lucia, with Debra’s boat Lancelot, a Beneteau coming in first place in it class B.

Perry’s boat, also a Beneteau named Coyote 11, came in seventh place in the same class, 340 miles behind.

Mrs Noble said: “Our boat took 20 days, which is five days longer than it took us last year due to the winds. However our boat was third last year, so it’s an improvement despite this.

“We were leading the race at one stage, but light winds slowed us in the later stages, and although more than 200 yachts were taking part we seldom saw another vessel.”

The boats in the Noble’s class range from 40 foot to 29 foot, and carry a crew of up to eight people each.

They had to be well equipped to deal with some of the treacherous conditions they encountered during the trip, especially when confronting high winds.

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“We had some pretty vicious squalls that although sometimes only last five minutes, can whip up huge amounts of wind” said Mrs Noble.

“At one time we were hit by a 40 knot gust from nowhere and it knocked us over. It was a case of panic stations on the boat, and we had to release ropes so boat became upright again.”

Perry, who was sailing on a yacht for the first time after previously using dingys, also got into a spot of trouble. He said: “We hit some massive squalls, and I managed to do a manoeuvre known as a Chinese gybe, which is when the boat turns round 380 degrees. It was dangerous but very exciting, and I managed to recover it.

“It was the first time I had been on a yacht, so I was nervous, but my sailing on the dingys had given me some confidence.”

The highlight for Mrs Noble was being able to swim in the Atlantic, despite the danger of sharks.

“When we were going slowly, we were able to go swimming in oceans that are five miles deep, which is really cool, even though in some areas it can be dangerous.

“At other times there are waves that are up to 4 metres high, which is dangerous, but thrilling to watch and be a part of.”