A TEST Valley sailor competed in one of the world's biggest boating events.

Lockerley resident Kirsteen Donaldson took part in the iconic Rolex Fastnet Race which concluded in Plymouth last weekend.

The only both-female entry, amongst 57 double handed crews in the Rolex Fastnet Race, pulled into Plymouth at 9.30am on Friday after five days at sea on their X332 Pyxis.

“We’re looking forward to smoked salmon and scrambled eggs,” owner Kirsteen Donaldson told a boating publication.

The 605 nautical mile historic event, which started in 1925 with just seven entries, saw a record 362 competitors from 29 different countries compete in the 47th edition. The race is biennial and is known as a tough test of endurance and skill. Kirsteen was racing her 34ft yacht Pyxis with just one other crew, fellow female, Judith Eastwood.

Co-skipper Judith Eastwood outlined life onboard.

“We’ve sailed together for a long time so we coordinate everything pretty smoothly," she said.

"We have a cup of tea together between watches as we swop over. We actually get a reasonable amount of sleep. One of the benefits of short-handed sailings is that there is plenty of space with just the two of us and since there’s no point in worrying about crew weight on the rail or managing a lot of people it’s all pretty straightforward. “

Nevertheless, the race itself was not without challenges.

“We endured 400 miles on the wind, which was quite tough,” added Kirsteen.

“The race wasn’t unkind but it was just a bit frustrating in places, with some very quiet patches. We had to put a lot of tacks in around the Fastnet Rock, and we also encountered a light patch south of the Lizard.

"We hit a tidal gate there just at the wrong time, so we were stuck for a bit. We had a quiet run into the finish but although we had to work hard to keep the boat moving the last bit was an enjoyable stretch of sailing.

“For the first time ever I saw the Fastnet Rock in daylight and sunshine."

Kirsteen has owned the 20-year old Pyxis since new.

She said: “I bought the boat to do short-handed sailing, so we’ve optimised it the way we want it. We are only rated for a No. 3 jib and obviously rely a lot on the autohelm.”

“Pyxis is fairing up well. We’ve just had the standing rigging and the rudder stock replaced and a general bit of a makeover. “

Kirsteen and Judith will cruise gently back to the Solent over the next week, and consider what their next big passage might be. Judith recently moved to the USA so the pair don’t sail so much together as they have done in the past, but over the last two decades they have fitted in countless thousands of miles including three Round Ireland races in as well as passages to Spain and Portugal.