The 1979 Fastnet Race was the final leg in a 5 race series for the Admirals Cup. The course ran from Cowes
on the Isle of Wight, around the Fastnet Rock
off the SW tip of Ireland and finished back in Plymouth. The contestants left Cowes for the 600 mile race on 11 Aug 1979.
A storm blew up in the Celtic Sea on 13 Aug with tragic consequences for many crews and their inadequately equipped yachts. Helicopters from Brawdy, Chivenor and RNAS Culdrose
, Nimrods from RAF Kinloss, Dutch and Irish warships plus French, German, British and Irish ships all helped in the rescue. Only 85 of the 303 yachts taking part made it home; 75 of the 179 rescued were lifted by helicopter.
Accident-prone MP John Nott (the UK Secretary of State for Defence in 1981/82 whose planned emasculation of the Royal Navy was shown to be folly by the Falklands conflict
) was at the time asleep at the wheel, as minister responsible for safety at sea.