#RORCSRBI - Liam Coyne and his sailing partner Brian Flahive crossed the finish line at Cowes around lunchtime today on their plucky First 36.7 Lula Belle to claim sixth place overall in this year's Round Britain and Ireland Race. Writing from the relative comfort of the shore, Coyne shared with us the pair's final days of racing...
Day 11 started with a night approach to Scilies. We had a great run with the A5 kite down but the wind went forward and we arrived with the jib up.
The worst part of having only one kite left was when to use it. When we rounded the Scilly Islands we should have put kite up and done three or four jibes but we had a spreader stuck through the mail sail and A lot of dark night gybing with it and our last kite did not appeal.
We ended up sailing around the Scillies to Lands End with only the main sail up. It was torture watching Rare pass us and have to be so conservative but we wanted to finish.
At first sunrise we hoisted the A5 and kept it going for 24 hours to arrive at the Isle of Wight at 6am on day 13. Despite Brian sowing it three times and the flogging it got in the last 24 hours, it's amazing how that sail held.
We were lucky to arrive at St Catherine's Point with tide so had a nice easy finish.
I must say I was very appreciative of the crew of Rare, who we beat to second, to come back out to the finish line with their families on board to applaud us over the finish.
The harbour master were good enough to tow us the the marina where the RORC team met us with media and champagne. It was confirmed we won the IRC Two-Handed class and combined classes 3 and 4, and finished sixth overall.
We are overwhelmed with all the well-wishes and messages. It's amazing how many were following [the race]. Boats are now tied up and we have to start repairs. Still have a 450-mile trip home.
Certainly it's one of the toughest races ever but very doable, and I hope our success this year leads a lot of other smaller boats to do this challenge.