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Atlantic Ocean in Hostile Mood as Round Britain & Ireland Fleet Race Towards St Kilda

15th August 2018
Phil Sharp’s Class 40 Imerys Clean Energy from the Channel Islands should be past St Kilda before darkness tonight, leading the RORC Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race in tough sailing conditions Phil Sharp’s Class 40 Imerys Clean Energy from the Channel Islands should be past St Kilda before darkness tonight, leading the RORC Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race in tough sailing conditions

Today’s cancellation of the first day’s racing in the WIORA Championship at Galway gives some idea of the conditions being experienced by the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland fleet as they race northwards along Ireland’s west coast towards the next turn at the remote Scottish island of St Kilda writes W M Nixon.

Near or real gales from between southwest and west, with the pressure markedly increased by the exceptionally dense air, provide exceptionally challenging sailing conditions. The succession of sail changes needed to optimise for the weaving wind direction results in crews getting into a sweat under their foul weather gear. And then, as they settle down for a while under the new sail configuration, they find they’ve become very cold and tired without the adrenalin pumping, and the general energy-sapping dampness is all-pervading.

That said, doing well is a great stimulus, and aboard Phil Sharp’s Class 40 Imerys Clean Energy they’re right in the groove, and should be past St Kilda before dark tonight, a clear 30 miles ahead of Corum and Concise 8.

The Irish entry, the Sunfast 3600 Bam! (Conor Fogerty & Simon Knowles) is west of the Aran Islands, and has pulled back a couple of miles on sister-ship Game On, but there’s still a margin of 15 miles to recover after they’d lost more ground through damage to their A5 (that’s the storm asymmetric). The tear has now been fixed, but making sail repairs under such conditions is not a project any sane person would seek to enjoy. And there’s every indication that it’s going to continue to blow big boots from the southwest to west for the next couple of days at least, after which the winds start to get messy. 

great foze rock2It’s for real! Photographic evidence of the existence of the Great Foze Rock as recorded from the Class 40 Aparito early this morning

Meanwhile, those armchair sailors who have doubted the very existence of the Great Foze Rock, the lonely and unlit westerly outlier of the Blasket Islands, have their answer thanks to the appropriately-named Class 40 Aparito, which took a snap going past at 0850 this morning.

The Great Foze is no apparition. It’s for real. But somehow now, thanks to Spellcheck, everyone seems to think it’s called the “Great Froze Rock”. It ain’t. It’s just plain Foze. As any Kerryman knows.

Race tracker here: Team

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The Round Britain & Ireland Race

The 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race will feature a wide variety of yachts racing under the IRC rating rule as well as one design and open classes, such as IMOCA, Class40 and Multihulls. The majority of the fleet will race fully crewed, but with the popularity of the Two-Handed class in recent years, the race is expected to have a record entry.

The Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race starts on Sunday 7th August 2022 from Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK.

The 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race is organised by The Royal Ocean Racing Club in association with The Royal Yacht Squadron.

It is run every four years. There have been nine editions of the Round Britain and Ireland Race which started in 1976 Sevenstar has sponsored the race four times - 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and has committed to a longterm partnership with the RORC

The 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race is a fully crewed non-stop race covering 1,805 nautical miles and is open to IRC, IRC Two Handed, IMOCA 60s, Class40s, Volvo 65s and Multihulls that will race around Britain and Ireland, starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes on the Isle of Wight starting after Cowes Week on Sunday 7 August 2022

The last edition of the race in 2018 attracted 28 teams with crews from 18 nations. Giles Redpath's British Lombard 46 saw over victory and Phil Sharp's Class40 Imerys Clean Energy established a new world record for 40ft and under, completing the course in 8 days 4 hrs 14 mins 49 secs.

The 1,805nm course will take competitors around some of the busiest and most tactically challenging sailing waters in the world. It attracts a diverse range of yachts and crew, most of which are enticed by the challenge it offers as well as the diversity and beauty of the route around Britain and Ireland with spectacular scenery and wildlife.

Most sailors agree that this race is one of the toughest tests as it is nearly as long as an Atlantic crossing, but the changes of direction at headlands will mean constant breaks in the watch system for sail changes and sail trim

Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race Records:

  • Outright - OMA07 Musandam-Oman Sail, MOD 70, Sidney Gavignet, 2014: 3 days 03:32:36
  • Monohull - Azzam Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, VO 65, Ian Walker, 2014: 4 days 13:10:28
  • Monohull All-Female - Team SCA, VO 65, Samantha Davies, 2014: 4 days 21:00:39
  • Monohull 60ft or less - Artemis Team Endeavour, IMOCA 60, Brian Thompson/Artemis Ocean Racing, 2014: 5 days 14:00:54
  • Monohull 40ft or less – Imerys Clean Energy, Class40, Phil Sharp, 2018: 8 days 4:14:49

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