The RORC Transatlantic Race organised by The Royal Ocean Racing Club in association with The International Maxi Association attracts a huge variety of competitors. Racing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from Marina Lanzarote is a huge challenge. The fastest yachts may take less than a week to reach Port Louis Marina Grenada, but for one team, it is more likely to be three weeks at sea.
Elin Haf Davies and Chris Frost will be competing two-handed on J/120 Nunatak. Their campaign to race across the Atlantic started with eight races in the 2015 RORC Season's Points Championship, including the RORC Fastnet Race. Chris Frost is an experienced sailor, winning World and European Championships in his Swan at inshore regattas, but he has never sailed across the Atlantic before.
Elin Haf Davies, from Bala North Wales only started yacht racing in 2011, but this will be Elin's fourth oceanic crossing, albeit not always in a sailing boat. Elin has rowed across the Atlantic double-handed and as part of a four-girl rowing team, rowed the Indian Ocean; both crossings took over 77 days. Elin’s first oceanic sail was the Pacific, from Qingdao China to San Francisco (5,680 miles) with Clipper, Visit Finland.
Elin is an extraordinary woman. Besides her aquatic adventures, Elin played premiership rugby for London Wasps and won 13 rugby caps for Wales A. For the 2012 London Olympic Games she was selected to carry the Olympic Torch through Bangor, North Wales.
An experienced academic and regulator for the development of drug treatments for rare diseases, Elin always dedicates her adventures to raising funds for charities close to her heart, including Great Ormond Street where she worked as a nurse for 15 years. Findacure (https://www.justgiving.com/E-H-DAVIES1) is Elin's chosen charity for the RORC Transatlantic Race.
“It is all down to Andrew McIrvine,” commented Elin, referring to the RORC Admiral and Secretary General of the International Maxi Association. “I went to a RORC crew match in 2011 and met Andrew and he was brave enough to take me on board his yacht for the season, including the Fastnet. Andrew took me on as long as I became a RORC member at the end of it, which I now am.
“Frosty (Chris Frost) and I have done a whole year of campaigning for the RORC Transatlantic Race and every mile has been about preparing for this race. I am still a novice at offshore racing, still learning compared to traditional two-handed sailors, but Chris has been great in teaching me; what I lack in experience and expertise, I make up with determination and enthusiasm.
"For me now is all about getting offshore experience and that excites me a lot. We know that the Atlantic is going to be tough; it is early in our development and the boat is not designed for performance. We are looking at this race as experience to put the foundation in place to go on to a more competitive level. This is the start of a four year campaign and we really want to go on and take part in other big races, who knows even a round the world race. Our goals for this race are to have a safe crossing where we have learnt lots and put things in place for the future and to make the finish before the prize giving.
"Racing two-handed makes the difficult moments more intense but has the same effect on the good moments. Finding the right sailing partner is very important because you have to totally trust them and equally you have to understand and respects each other’s strengths and weaknesses. When things do get tough, having worked as a children's nurse for 15 years, the reality check is that life in the RORC Transatlantic Race will be easy. Nothing will be as tough as I have seen at work.”