Force 8 but they're still smiling

Seventy-seven hours after leaving Plymouth, the first of the 27 yachts of the Yachting Monthly Rally Portugal fleet arrived in Bayona, northern Spain, yesterday.

The four crew onboard Waylander, a Hallberg Rassy 43, had logged 550 miles and experienced every sort of weather from flat calm to a Force 8.

‘We had a bit of everything,’ said skipper Tony Strutt, who has sold up and sailed away. He will sail with Rally Portugal to the Algarve before cruising Morocco then crossing the Atlantic with the ARC.

Waylander averaged an impressive 7.5 knots during the three-day, five-hour crossing, with 35 hours of motoring.

‘We had a great time going across,’ added crewmate Mick. ‘We were smiling and laughing 99.8 percent of the way.’

There has been a steady trickle of boats since Waylander’s arrival on Wednesday afternoon with bleary eyed Rally Portugal staff staying up all night to take their lines and welcome them to Spain.

There’s a fantastic atmosphere on the pontoons as crews talk over their passages and tidy their boats. Maybe it’s the bright Spanish sun, the stunning position of the yacht club set within castle walls, or the thought of warm showers and a long seafood lunch, but the 40 knot winds have been quickly forgotten.

The talk instead is of the whales, dolphins and sharks that were spotted along the way, and of what lies ahead as the fleet day sail down the coast of Portugal, arriving at Marina de Lagos on the Alrgarve on 24 June.

For more details and to track the fleet, click here