On 11 August 1979, 303 yachts began the 600-mile Fastnet Race from Cowes on the Isle of Wight to Fastnet Rock. Weather conditions were good when the race began but that changed very quickly when a Force 10 storm swept across the Atlantic and wreaked havoc on participants, spectators, and the rescue services.
The race became a terrifying ordeal and for almost twenty-four hours the fleet was pounded by huge waves whipped up by 60-knot winds.
Fifteen participants lost their lives in what was the worst disaster in the one hundred-year history of ocean yacht racing.
Gerald Butler served as a Lighthouse Keeper for twenty-one years. He was on duty on the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse in August 1979 when disaster struck the Admiral’s Cup Yacht Race. In the Skibbereen & District Historical Society Journal 2020, Gerald tells the story of that extraordinary night from his unique perspective.
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