The 29ft Van de Stadt Canina, crewed by a 12-year-old schoolgirl had a rough passage

The skipper of the smallest boat in the 2002 ARC, told for the first time today how the 29 ft Van de Stadt sloop was pooped in gale force winds on the day one of the entrants on another yacht was lost overboard.

Peter Aldred battened his 12-year-old daughter Freya below during the blow while he and his wife Alison battled with the seas.

He sent YM this report from St Lucia:

‘We were very pleased with our time of 23 and a half days, although we think that this was due to choosing a more northerly route than some others – who then had less wind. We had not expected to be starting off into a westerly gale – on the first night. This caused us to try the third reef ‘”in anger” which proved satisfactory!

‘Then following a couple of days of calmer weather we had about a week of very strong winds ( we have no wind speed meter, so who knows, indeed who wants to know) probably F7 gusting 8 but with a very rough cross sea. During this time we resorted to trailing warps and keeping all the hatch boards in.

‘We were pooped, cpmpletely filling the cockpit. (We didn’t expect this either). During this time ‘Toutazimut’ lost a man overboard and of course this saddened us greatly and also made us feel very vulnerable. The last week or so was much more pleasant – allowing full sail and less worry from vicious squalls.

‘Arriving at 10.00 (local time) we were met by several of our friends in their dinghies – again we didn’t expect this. Their support has been marvellous. And now we are finding our land legs – hampered by rum punch all the best for 2003.’