Day #1 midnight - When we remember the increasingly rugged conditions the fleet found themselves contending with as they slugged into rising headwinds past the Saltee Islands in 2017’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race, the current fair wind romp may seem like a doddle writes W M Nixon.
But every offshore race sets its own scenario, and for boats running south towards the first major turn at Ireland’s southeast corner, the challenge is to get through before the ebb tide runs out and the new flood brings a major change in progress.
Mick Cotter’s Windfall led past the Tuskar Rock at 23000 hrs, and now with less than 200 miles to go to Dingle, she’s making good at 15 knots with the tide still in her favour, while the light of the Coningbeg – a mark of the course – would be in sight but for misty visibility.
Astern, Corrected Time placings have stabilised. Andrew Hall’s J/125 Jackknife continues to lead overall, Paul O’Higgins’ defending champion the JPK 1080 Rockabill is second, and the Johnny Murphy-skippered J/109 Outrajeous is third.
As the boats make it round the corner and pass the Coningbeg, the relative benefits of long waterline length will start to show more markedly on the long reach in the northerly wind down to the Fastnet, and Windfall should begin to significantly increase her lead. But the Welsh wizards on Jackknife have astonished with their showing so far, and they well may continue to do so.
However, perhaps the most fascinating thing of all is how well one of the smallest boats – the Mini 6.50 Port of Galway – will continue to perform for Dan Mill and Yannick Lemonnier. While most of the fleet have held relatively close to the coast, in tacking downwind the little PoG has struck boldly offshore, and is well out in the Channel as she shapes in for the Tuskar turn on starboard gybe.
Monitoring her performance is a matter of speculation and deduction, for as we write this at midnight she’s shown as being on 15.9 knots, yet a while back she was down at eight. Normally our mantra is: “In Yellowbrick We Trust”. But this will need further examination in the morning.
Meanwhile, good sailing to all the fleet, and good night to you.