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Round Ireland contenders on the move

27th May 2008
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What will likely be the two fastest entries to the Round Ireland race are currently on the move, east and west of Ireland respectively.

The radical Russian entry has hit the water in Lymington, and Leopard 3 is in the middle of a Transatlantic record attempt.

Leopard 3 is en route from New York in a bid to topple the west-to-east transatlantic record set by superyacht Phocea at eight days, three hours and 29 minutes. The record is for yachts with powered sail systems (the outright record is held by the 140-footer Mari Cha IV, six days, 17 hours, 52 minutes and 39 seconds).

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ICAP Leopard chases down the Atlantic record.

On board Leopard for the journey, and for most of its major racing outings, is northerner Ross Monson. Monson, an Oppie star in his day and now a professional navigator and superyacht electronics expert, has been part of the high-tech Leopard project from day one, and was on board for their record-breaking run in the Fastnet.

Then, he was joined by fellow Paddy Justin Slattery on the bow, but this time he's the only Irishman on board.

It's thought that former round-the-world sailor and Leopard watch leader Gordon Maguire may journey back from Australia for the Round Ireland on board the 30-metre maxi.

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Russia's entry shows off its radical spray rails. Pic: Tim Stonton/Volvo Ocean Race

Also in the water is the Russian entry in the Volvo Ocean Race, which was launched in Lymington after it emerged from the Green Marine shed yesterday.

The Humphreys-designed VO70 boasts Batman-like sprayrails at the bow, a design feature that has yet to feature on any of the other boats, and which sets it apart in terms of looks.

Irish spectators will be among the first to see how this unusual design feature performs when the boat arrives in Wicklow for the start of the Round Ireland next month.

The boat will undergo sea trials in early June, be named officially on June 16, then head for Wicklow.

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