Day #2 - 2 pm Mick Cotter’s 94ft Windfall has to average “only” 11.25 knots over the shortest course from Dun Laoghaire to Dingle if she is to break the 24-hour barrier for this classic 270-mile race writes W M Nixon.
And as she passed the Fastnet Rock at 1000 hrs this morning, while it was scarcely looking its best under grey skies above a grey sea with a decidedly grey-green Cape Clear beyond, at least the big silver-grey boat was making a reasonable speed, and many hours of 13 knots and better during the night and early morning as she reached along the south coast were giving grounds for optimism.
Yet as soon as the Fastnet was astern, the wheels came off with the wind heading then fading and finally dying for a while as she lay virtually motionless off Mizen Head.
"Windfall has 37 miles to sail, and 4 hours and 20 minutes to sail it"
But now the breeze is back from the north, she’s laying the course to the next marker off the Bull Rock, and is showing 10.4 knots while the weather predictions are indicating a freshening – albeit northerly –wind for this afternoon.
This isn’t the headwind it might at first seem, as the course to the finish is a zig-zag with an almost 90-degree turn at Skellig Michael. But nevertheless with 40 miles still to go and 1800 hrs rolling remorselessly down the track, it’s a bit fraying for the nerves, and then some.
The rest of the fleet – with IRC leading boat Jackknife now 46 miles astern of Windfall as she reaches past Castlehaven at a modest 6.4 knots – know only too well that they will have a fresh set of problems to deal with off the southwestern seaboard as the afternoon northerly gives way to northwesterlies and then westerlies tonight, falling light in the morning.
So there could well be a lot of racing to do yet, after so many miles of knocking off the distance in a soldier’s wind. Astern of Jackknife, Conor Doyle’s Freya is on the pace – admittedly 15 miles astern – with 9 knots on the clock, but overall on IRC the stability of the leaderboard is maintained with Jackknife still first, Rockabill VI comfortably in second, and Outrajeous working it well in third.
The inevitable duel between The Prof in Aurelia and Mark Mansfield in Hot Cookie has developed very satisfactorily, with Aurelia very close behind Outrajeous in fourth, and currently 17 minutes ahead of Hot Cookie in 5th, the Sunfast 3600’s highest placing so far as Mono seems to have been finding new reserves of speed for Hot Cookie’s regular crew, and they’re currently making 8 knots well seaward of the Old head of Kinsale.
Meanwhile, the attention inevitably swings back to the head of the fleet and Windfall’s battle with time – 37 miles to sail, and 4 hours and 20 minutes to sail it. It sounds eminently do-able. But don’t forget she’s now off the coast of Kerry, where normal circumstances no longer apply...
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