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Adventure Log for William Chanter and His Sail Around the Isle of Wright

Posted Sep 11 2013 2:36pm
I recently did an interview with William Chanter before his Sail around the Isle of Wright. Here is his race report in his own words. such a stud for taking on this adventure!!

RTI 4 Type 1 William Chanter & Tom Baker – 23rd July 2013 

Our simple plan was to sail around the Isle of Wight in my 29er dinghy. We hoped to raise money to fund research into curing Type 1 (as both helm and crew have T1 Diabetes) to hopefully inspire others with T1 and have some fun too.

The planning started 8 months before the challenge itself with fund raising, practice sails, chart work, blood glucose testing/eating plans etc all taking place. I was used to sailing at Bough Beech SC, a reservoir so no tides though Tom is a regular sailor at Netley so is used to the Solent.
The tides were not going to make the circumnavigation straightforward. It forced a start time of around 13.00hrs so with sunset due at 21.00hrs the maximum duration would be 8 hours if we were to finish in daylight.

Gurnard SC, next to Cowes had very kindly provided us with dinghy storage and a good start/finish point. At 13.30 we launched having checked our blood glucose levels for the last time on dry land. The plan was to test every hour alongside the support rib that had been very kindly provided by Netley Cliff SC. We tacked off into the Solent feeling a little apprehensive but pleased to be underway.

The tide would help us to Hurst Castle and beyond the needles assuming we kept to our plan. Tacking between the mainland and the IOW was pretty seamless with only the Solent chop and the odd racing yacht providing some added interest. Approaching Yarmouth and Lymington we were wary of the ferries and tried to cross their lane as quickly as possible.

The first hour soon arrived and we went alongside the rib to test our blood glucose level. I was.4.6 and Tom was slightly higher so we both had something to eat before setting off again. Visibility was becoming an issue with fog hiding the Needles even though Hurst Castle was now behind us. We could hear the fog horn faintly in the distance but other than the rib it was eerily quiet.

A large ship passed us some time before but now there was nothing else on the water which was surprisingly flat. The wind was mid F2 / F3 and we were sailing well but losing sight of land which was unsettling.

The Needles now started to appear through the fog but we could still not see any other boats until what looked like a pilot boat went by. The tide seemed quite strong at this stage and then a single red metal buoy appeared in the distance. The tide seemed to carry us to it so we tacked and sailed away. The sea was now smooth with large circular patterns, quiet, but in the distance we could see a substantial standing wave. We sailed away from that and beyond the needles for our next stop.

By this time my hands were wet and the saltwater made the test kit think it was a test solution and not my blood. Not a very convenient time to start doing multiple blood tests. The adrenalin from passing the needles and now being in the English Channel probably elevated our blood glucose a little. However, we were both a little hungry so had a snack.

All finished but then somehow the bow dug in and the 29er capsized. Not an ideal spot but Tom jumped onto the hull and I followed. We very quickly got upright and started sailing with the kite up. This was the section I was looking forward to the most. I had wondered what sailing a long (60 minutes plus) three sail reach would feel like and at last it was happening. We bumped along the waves in a F3, keeping our weight back so as not to dig the bow in, often touching 16kts. It was everything I had expected and hoped for, exciting, fast and for me as helm quite relaxing!

The mist was now clearing and the cliffs clearly visible and we headed to St Katherine’s and our next stop. After four hours of sailing, the last one with spinnaker up, we were both feeling a bit weary so pleased to have a short break. The video makes it look very easy but it wasn't. Another capsize from the rib at St Katherine’s was not ideal for our energy levels. But, we headed off again towards Shanklin and the eastern tip of the IOW beyond that.

As Ventnor beech came into view (65kms) a number of issues came to light. We were both very tired but eager to press on. The tide was starting to work against us and the sun starting to set whilst the wind was dropping. We sailing onto Ventnor beech with a sense of disappointment that we had run out of time before reaching our goal. But, we had sailed over 65 kms in a 29er dinghy and lived to tell the story, had raised around £3500 for JDRF and had some fun too. It was a lot further around than it looked on the chart!

Living with type 1 diabetes is a massive job in itself. The condition means that the pancreas does not create insulin, which regulates the level of glucose in the bloodstream. So, we have to inject insulin six times a day and usually do eight to ten finger prick blood tests to check our blood glucose level.
It’s a constant battle to keep glucose levels within the recommended range and every hour of every day we have to think about the effects that eating, exercise and insulin are having on blood glucose levels.

If the levels are too low we have a ‘hypo’ – dizziness, sweating and an inability to form anything like a coherent sentence and if untreated can be fatal. If they’re too high, over the course of time we could develop heart disease, kidney damage and it can even lead to blindness and amputation.

Exercise helps blood glucose control in the long term and improves insulin sensitivity making it more efficient. Type 1 need not hold anybody back and we hope that by sailing around the IOW we have raised awareness of the condition and shown that ambitious activities are possible. We would like to thank Team Blood Glucose, (for sail repairs and dinghy prep), and all those who sponsored and/or supported us in many ways.

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