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After what has seemed like weeks of harsh southwest to northwest winds in Atlantic waters along Ireland’s West Coast, the fleet starting Stage 1 of the 2000-mile Royal Western Round Britain & Ireland Race 2022 to the Genesys-sponsored Galway stopover from Plymouth on Sunday (May 29th) may find that conditions have relented. Instead of slugging into classic headwind conditions from Land’s End to Mizen head, they might be lucky enough to experience a beam reach across the Celtic Sea with a moderate nor’easter.

Galway’s high standing in international IT is emphasized by the Genesys position as the lead sponsor of the Port’s RB&I stopoverGalway’s high standing in international IT is emphasised by the Genesys position as the lead sponsor of the Port’s RB&I stopover

Admittedly we’re in a phase of volatile weather, and today’s predictions may well be much modified in three days’ time. But with a course as challenging as this, and with several small and not notably fast boats in the fleet, a relatively gentle start may be just what’s needed. For the reality is that the business of going through the pre-race preparations and qualifying – which in recent days have included the new mandatory out-of-water keel and rudder inspections – will have piled on the pressure in our time-starved era, and some crews start in a state of near exhaustion.

One boat which is definitely coming to the start line on Sunday in optimal psychological and sailing trim is local star Hissy Fit, a Dazcat 46 catamaran raced by Simon Baker of Royal Western YC and Dan Fellows from Saltash SC. The Hissy Fit team have a proven record, in that they placed a close second in 2018’s race. But that makes it unfinished business until 2022’s race is properly put away with the right result in place, for in 2018 after 16 days of actual racing (with 48-hour stopovers in each port), they were beaten into second place by just 43 seconds (repeat: forty-three seconds) on elapsed time, and 10 minutes and 40 seconds on corrected time.

The Dazcat 46 being the multihull connoisseur’s choice for performance cruising and racing while not being extreme, Hissy Fit is attracting some of the smart money. But some shrewd punters are backing the Essex duo of Andrew Fennell and Paddy Hutchings from West Mersea YC with the Shuttleworth tri Morpheus.

Essex Girl leaping to it – the Shuttleworth tri Morpheus from West Mersea YC performs some hard-hat sailingEssex Girl leaping to it – the Shuttleworth tri Morpheus from West Mersea YC performs some hard-hat sailing. Photo: Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

And of course, the mono-hull division is a separate prize list altogether, with line honours likely to be taken by Ross Hobson’s Open 50 Pegasus from Northumberland, which we’ve seen performing in the Round Ireland Race. We’ve extra interest too in Kuba Szymanski’s First 40.7 Polished Manx from the Isle of Man, and Irish Sea involvement also takes in Milford Haven, home port of the youngest crew, 19-year-old Lou Boorman and her shipmate Elin Jones with the vintage Contessa 32 White Knight. But the mercurial Conor Fogerty with his Figaro 3 Raw has found that trying to combine the time-consuming RB&I Into his complex Figaro programme in France is logistically impossible, so he won’t be on the Plymouth starting line on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in Galway, Stopover Organiser Nigel Moss and his team from GBSC are putting the final pieces together in one very complex race management and hospitality structure, as each boat has to have its finish time recorded precisely so that exactly 48 hours later, it can start on Stage 2, which is the very long haul to Lerwick in the Shetlands.

When you’ve a fleet which ranges from a DazCat 46 and an Open 50 at one end, all the way down to a vintage Vertue 25 at the other, even by the time they get to Galway they’ll already be well spread out on both time and distance. So all power to Matteo Richardi from Porto Vecchio in Italy for entering his Vertue 25 Mea in the RB&I 2022. Having sailed from Ireland to Iceland and Spain in a Vertue 25, I can vouch for the Vertue’s remarkable comfort as a sea boat. Which is just as well, as Mea’s crew are going to spend a lot of time out on the ocean getting round this challenging 2,000 mile course.

Ross Hobson’s Open 50 Pegasus from NorthumberlandRoss Hobson’s Open 50 Pegasus from Northumberland

For the 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race, a record 15 teams are planning to take on the marathon IRC Two-Handed. Short-handed racing with the RORC has been booming in recent years with 84 teams competing in the 2021 RORC Season's Points Championship. The 1,800-mile Round Britain & Ireland Race is a hard task for a full-crew, let alone Two-Handed. Since IRC Two-Handed was introduced 12 years ago, 25 teams have started the race; only nine have finished.

Experienced Two-Handed skippers planning to race for 2022 include Richard Palmer's JPK 10.10 Jangada, 2020 RORC Yacht of the Year and overall winner of the RORC Transatlantic Race. 2012 RORC Yacht of the Year skipper Nick Martin will race his Sun Fast 3600 Diablo. The highly experienced Nigel de Quervain Colley will race his Sun Fast 3300 Fastrak XII and Sam White, 4th in IRC Two-Handed for the 2021 Rolex Fastnet, will race his latest boat, the JPK 1080 Mzungu!

Dee Caffari MBE and Shirley Robertson OBE will be racing together on a brand-new Sun Fast 3300 RockIT (GBR), which is due for launch in April. Shirley's strength is sailing the boat hard, keeping up the intensity of speed. Dee's strength is her knowledge and confidence of the course, possessing all the ingredients towards making the right decisions.

Bellino - Deb Fish & Rob Craigie. For the 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race, Rob Craigie & Deb Fish will be racing Sun Fast 3600 Bellino (GBR), which will be among the favourites for IRC Two-Handed. Between them Rob and Deb have competed in 20 Fastnets and have been racing together for seven years, winning IRC Two-Handed for the RORC Season’s Points Championship in 2017, 2019 and 2021. This will be their first Two-Handed Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland RaceBellino - Deb Fish & Rob Craigie. For the 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race, Rob Craigie & Deb Fish will be racing Sun Fast 3600 Bellino (GBR), which will be among the favourites for IRC Two-Handed. Between them Rob and Deb have competed in 20 Fastnets and have been racing together for seven years, winning IRC Two-Handed for the RORC Season’s Points Championship in 2017, 2019 and 2021. This will be their first Two-Handed Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race

Dee Caffari has sailed around the world six times and was the first woman to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions. Dee has an equally impressive record in the Round Britain & Ireland Race, setting the Women's Monohull Course Record as skipper of IMOCA Aviva (2009), and then breaking her own record as part of Sam Davies's crew on VO65 Team SCA (2014 - 4 days 21 hours 00 mins 39 secs). Dee has completed the race four times.

Nick Martin's Sun Fast 3600 Diablo Photo: Paul WyethNick Martin's Sun Fast 3600 Diablo Photo: Paul Wyeth

Shirley Robertson made history becoming the first British woman to win an Olympic gold medal at consecutive games. In the last two years, Shirley has raced Two-Handed with Henry Bomby on Sun Fast 3300 Swell. Shirley and Henry took Line Honours in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race for IRC Two-Handed and were second overall in a fleet of 56 boats, after time correction. Shirley has accumulated expert knowledge racing the Sun Fast 3300, but this will be her first Round Britain & Ireland Race.

IRC Two-Handed was first introduced in the race 2010 but the only entrant, Luca Zoccoli’s Ostar 35 In Direzione Ostinata E Contraria (ITA), retired 100 miles from the Shetlands. In 2014, Ian Hoddle’s Figaro II Rare (GBR), racing with Conrad Manning became the first team to complete the race in IRC Two-Handed. Liam Coyne's First 36.7 Lula Belle (IRL), racing with Brian Flahive was the second, winning the class after IRC time correction. In 2018, Benjamin Schwartz & Chen Jin Hao (FRA) won IRC Two-Handed in the fastest time for the class (10 days, 17 hours 01 mins 42 secs). Since 2010, 25 teams have started the race in IRC Two-Handed, only nine have finished

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland

The 2018 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race  has a record entry of Two-Handed and Class 40 teams and Ireland is in the mix with the potent Howth Yacht Club duo Conor Fogerty and Simon Knowles in the much-fancied Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 BAM!

29 teams in total will line up for the start on the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes at noon on Sunday 12th August, which will be streamed live. Details below. 10-15 knots from the south is forecast, giving fast reaching conditions as the fleet head east out of the Solent. Later in the day, the wind is due to shift to the southwest and freshen to 20 knots, pressing the teams into upwind mode as they head along the southern headlands of Great Britain.

Aiden McManus Conor FogertySkipper Conor Fogerty (right) victualling for the 1800–mile voyage in the kitchen of the King Sitric with Proprietor Aidan McManus

Well over 100 intrepid sailors from all over the world will race non-stop around the notorious 1,805 nautical mile route. Just finishing the race is a massive achievement; winning class will be monumental. The yacht with the best corrected time under the IRC rating rule will be awarded the John Illingworth Trophy. The organising authority, the Royal Ocean Racing Club are all set for the race and a hero's welcome for the multi-national teams at the finish back in Cowes.

Two-Handed Teams

A record 10 teams will be racing with just two crew in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race; finishing the race will be a memorable achievement. Only three Two-Handed teams have successfully completed the race in previous editions, including 2014 winners, Ireland's Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive. Briton, Ian Hoddle is back in 2018 with Virgin Media Business, racing with Ollie Wyatt. Irish Sailor of the Year, Conor Fogerty will be racing Bam with Simon Knowles. Briton Gavin Howe, who has raced the course in both a sail and powerboat, is racing Tigris with Sam Cooper. All three teams will race Sun Fast 3600, which should prove to be a monumental battle.

Two sailors from the winning team of 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race will also be taking on the race Two-Handed; El Velosolex Sl Energies Group's Benjamin Schwartz and Chen Jin Hao both raced with Dongfeng for their epic win in July. For Chen Jin Hao (aka Horace), this will be his second Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, having come third in the VO65 class in 2014. RORC member Charles Emmett will be racing his classic Sigma 36 British Beagle Two-Handed with Tim Winsey and the team are likely to take at least 10 days to complete the race.

Two well campaigned British yachts will have a private duel in IRC 1, Mark Emerson's A13 Phosphorus II will be taking part in their eighth RORC race for the season. Giles Redpath's Lombard 46 Pata Negra has raced over 7,000 miles in the last six months, including two Transatlantic Races.

The British Army has a long tradition in offshore racing and nine serving men and women will race the Army Sailing Association's entry X-41 British Soldier. The crew are Private Soldiers, Sergeants and Captains, right up to Colonels. However, military rank is subordinate to position on the team for the race. The Oxford University Sailing team will also be taking part in their first race on board Prima 38 Talisman.

Record Class 40 fleet

Eleven pocket-rocket Class40s will be racing; the 40ft Monohull World Record for the race was set in 2014 by Roderick Knowles' Swish (8 days 19:06:49). In the right conditions, all of the Class40 teams competing this year are capable of breaking that milestone. The Class40 Line Honours winner will receive the Lekeitio Cup.

Briton Phil Sharp racing Imerys Clean Energy is amongst the favourites, ranked third in the world for 2018, the skipper is aiming to become the first Class40 sailor to win the Route du Rhum for a second time. However, he is not the only Class40 sailor with big ambitions. Hannah Stodel has won three Paralympic sailing world titles and this race represents an early test on her long-term ambition to race in the Vendee Globe. Sam Goodchild is also in preparations for an assault on the Route du Rhum and will be skipper on Peter Harding's Phor-ty, alongside two-time Vendee Globe sailor, Mike Golding.

The most experienced team will be Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron's Campagne de France, this will be Miranda's sixth race, including setting a world record with Sam Davies in 2006. Oman Sail will also be racing and French skipper Sandrine Pelletier will lead an Omani crew. The husband and wife team of Chris Frost and Elin Haf Davis will be racing Aparito with Pip Hare. Chris says the most challenging part of the race will be managing Elin's unrealistic expectations!

There will be live coverage of the start from 11:30 BST Sunday 12th August via Facebook Live here. With commentary from the water and the Royal Yacht Squadron Line as the fleet set off. 

All competing yachts are fitted with YB Trackers and a freely available race tracker will allow fans to follow their progress 24-7. Regular race updates will bring you all the news as the teams battle around the course.

Updates on Conor and Simon's progress on

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland

There's just one month to go for Irish Sailor of the Year, Conor Fogerty racing his Sunfast 3600 Bam double-handed in the 2018 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, a record 37 teams have taken up the challenge of one of the world's toughest offshore races. Many of this year's entries are crewed by passionate Corinthian sailors, fulfilling a life-long ambition to complete the 1,800 nautical mile infamous race. Whilst the teams will race in a variety of performance cruisers under the IRC Rating system, the race for the best corrected time will be highly competitive.

Harmen Jan De Graaf's Ker 43 Baraka will be one of the fancied teams to win overall under IRC having won the Volvo Round Ireland Race this July. Among the latest entries for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race are two top class two-handed teams; Fogerty racing Sunfast 3600 Bam, with Simon Knowles of Howth Yacht Club and Vincent Willemart's Belgian MC Patton 34 Azawakh, overall winner of the 2014 RORC Season's Points Championship.

The Army Sailing Association was second in class in 2014 and are back for this year's edition with a crew of servicemen and women from the British Army. Andrew Britton will skipper X-41 British Soldier. Ross Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster retired in the 2014 edition and is back to finish the race, hoping to put in a winning performance. Performance Yacht Charter have been racing with the RORC for over a decade but will be making their first appearance in the race since 2006 in their Beneteau First 47.7 EH01.

Over the past six months Giles Redpath's Lombard 46 Pata Negra has been racing extensively in the Caribbean, competing in numerous offshore races including the Antigua Bermuda Race and the Newport Bermuda Race. She is currently racing back to Europe in the AAR Bermuda to Hamburg Race in order to take part in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race starting on 12th August.

"Since we left Hamble last November Pata Negra has sailed over 10,000 miles; 7,000 of them racing, including two Atlantics," commented Boat Captain, Oliver Heer. "For the race, the owner (Giles Redpath) has put together a team of experienced sailors and we will be looking to get maximum performance from the boat and do well in the race. We have seen in past editions that the most important thing is to keep the boat and the crew in good shape, to do well you first have to finish."

Based in Hamble UK, Sailing Logic has won the RORC Sailing School Boat of the Year nine years in a row and has a long history of competing in the race. For the 2018 edition, Sailing Logic's First 40 Arthur will be competing. "The race is as long as most ocean crossings, but is a completely different challenge with all the tricky tides and headlands of a coastal race. We have a strong team for this race as it has a fearsome reputation," commented Sailing Logic's Prue Nash. "

"I'm super happy to take beginners on the regular cross channel races as we are a sea school and everyone needs the chance to do their first race, but for this one we wanted a higher level of experience given what the weather can be like, especially around the top of Scotland. Jon Tyrrell will be skipper and Jim Bennett is mate. They've just finished the Volvo Round Ireland Race together and three of their crew have previously done that race on Arthur. In addition to the RORC qualifying races, we had a training weekend in the Solent and a World Sailing Offshore Safety course together; we want a strong safety ethos on board. The team have practiced MOBs, storm sails, rudderless sailing, sail changes, watch keeping, living on board and keeping Arthur in one piece and sailing fast and in the right direction!! The training races are vital for this," continued Nash.

The Oxford University Yacht Club will be racing Prima 38 Talisman in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. Established in 1884, the club has mostly focused on dinghy sailing, however in 2001 the club started racing offshore.

"The race is an ideal opportunity for four current and one former Oxford student to take place in one of the toughest corinthian yacht races in the world, and is it takes place in the middle of summer it is ideal for students," commented OUYC Rear Commodore Sean Lindsall. "We have a young yet experienced crew which have taken part in several Fastnets, two Atlantic crossings and a previous double-handed round Britain and Ireland. Inshore the team also won this year's Student Nationals. Despite it probably being the wettest, coldest and windiest two weeks of sailing in my life, there will be unforgettable moments and it will be an amazing adventure, which we hope to win!"

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland

#RB&I - The Royal Western Yacht Club of England has announced that the next edition of the Round Britain and Ireland two-handed race will start from Plymouth on Sunday 3 June 2018.

It marks the 14th running of the quadrennial yacht race, which was established in 1966 by the Cockershell hero Major Blondie Hasler.

The most recent edition in 2014 saw Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive on Lula Belle become the first two-handed team to win the race, which comprises five legs totalling some 2,000 miles on a course sailed clockwise around the British Isles and Ireland, leaving all islands and rocks to starboard.

The event is open to professional and amateur yachtsmen in mono and multihulls between 28ft and 5ft in length overall.

Race director David Searle, a former race competitor and current member of the Royal Western YC, anticipates a strong local and international entry of up to 60 boats to contest what’s described as one of the world's toughest coastal two-handed races.

The race record stands at 15 days and seven hours, but sailors should allow about 23 days to complete the course, including the four 48-hour rest-and-repair stopovers in Kinsale, Castle Bay, Lerwick and Lowestoft.

The Notice of Race and entry form can be found at the Round Britain and Ireland Yacht Race website HERE.

Published in Offshore

#srbi – Irish offshore sailors Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive will relive their stunning Round Britain and Ireland voyage next Wednesday night at 8pm in Poolbeg Yacht Club on the River Liffey. In the same week the pair will deliver the talk again on Friday night at Wicklow Sailing Club at 8pm.  It's a chance for those that missed the first sell out talk at the National Yacht Club last October to hear about one of the stand out offshore victories of 2014.

For twelve days, Ireland's sailing and maritime community followed with bated breath while the fortunes of Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive with the First 36.7 Lula Belle waxed and waned in the storm-tossed 1802-mile RORC Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race. Read the full story here.

Coyne and Flahive were awarded Afloat sailor of the month awards for the achievement in September. 

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland

#rorcsrbi – Before the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, a two-handed team had never completed the 1800-mile course. However three teams from Ireland, Britain and Germany have now accomplished that magnificent achievement. Racing Two Handed around Britain and Ireland requires all-round skill, great seamanship and tenacity. Most of the time, the Two Handed pair are alone on deck. Whilst a team mate sleeps, it can be a lonely existence on deck and the lack of sleep and the effects of exposure to the harshest of conditions is bound to take its toll on both yacht and sailor.

Liam Coyne's First 36.7, Lula Belle with Brian Flahive as crew, finished the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race at 11:40:54 on Saturday 23 August in an elapsed time of 12 days 02 hours 40 minutes 54 seconds. The duo won the Two Handed Class and the combined IRC 3 and IRC 4 Class. Listen to Afloat's finish line podcasts and Liam's thoughts on the finishing here.

Five days ago, the Irish First 36.7, Lula Belle with Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive racing Two Handed was off Dingle on the West Coast of Ireland. Liam reported that they had lost the use of their engine. With 500 miles still to go, Lula Belle had no means of generating electricity and were considering retiring from the race. The team had shredded two of three spinnakers and damaged their mainsail, but they never gave up:

"We had serious doubts that we could finish this race," admitted Liam dockside. "When the engine went, we didn't think there was much more that could go wrong, but at the end of the day, this race is an endurance test for yourself and the boat; that is what it is all about. Brian and myself have done two Fastnets and two Round Irelands but there is no comparison. This race is the hardest we have ever done. We took a hammering for a couple of days but you are 12 days at it, battling for two hours at the wheel, taking two hours rest and then you're back at it again. To rest when you are off watch, you have to put complete trust in one another and myself and Brian have 100% confidence in each other."

Lula Belle, Irish Two-Handed team, Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive spray their celebratory champagne - Patrick Eden/RORC

Brian Flahive, first mate on Lula Belle was delighted to hear that fellow Irishman, Damian Foxall - outright record breaker on MOD 70, Musandam-Oman Sail - had commented on Lula Belle's efforts: "Fair play to Liam and Brian - that's hard core and their efforts show the true spirit of two handed racing. Liam and Brian have normal jobs but their achievement is just as great as the professionals and in many respects, the sacrifices they have had to make puts their achievement even higher. I wish them huge congratulations on finishing the race and their magnificent result."

"Damian Foxall is a big idol to us, someone we look up to and it is really nice to get that compliment from him. There were more than a few memorable moments in this race, but when the engine was gone, we lost everything, even our windex was jammed. The only way to tell the wind direction and speed was the Sevenstar battle flag on the backstay! However we said to each other people have gone a lot further with nothing, so we kept going. We made up some nav-lights with a head torch and a lens over it and two torches taped onto the transom and a head torch each and that was it. We were cautious around the Scilly Isles because we had no electronic navigation, just the chart and a compass. Liam and myself would like to thank the Harbour Master at Cowes for giving us a hand to get to the mooring after we finished and also to Rare, for cheering us over the finish line. Right now, we have a long jobs list, but top of it is definitely to eat a good steak and chips."

Ian Hoddle's British Figaro II, Rare with crew Conrad Manning completed the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race just after 0900 BST on Saturday 23 August 2014, taking Line Honours for the Two Handed Class after almost exactly 12 days at sea (elapsed time: 12 days 0 hours 18 minutes 09 seconds). No Two Handed team has ever completed the race before and with a water-line length of just 32 feet, Rare is also the smallest yacht to ever complete the race.

Ian Hoddle has been raising money for CLIC Sargent all season. The charity has been providing care for his five year old nephew James, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour last January. The plight of his young nephew, bravely fighting the disease, has been a big influence on his determination to finish the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race.

As Ian Hoddle stepped ashore with adrenalin coursing through his veins, he was very emotional about the cause that had kept Rare on the race track:

"We had taken photos of James on the boat and the delay to the start meant we could take them up to him in the hospital, which was great. During the race we found out that he had been released from hospital and was going home, which was great to hear. When that first storm hit and started to pull bits off the boat, it got a bit scary but I was remembering why I was out there. It was a tough time. I remember being in the teeth of a gale at 4 o'clock in the morning with just the storm jib up, falling asleep on the helm, but I was continually reminding myself about James and what he was going through to keep us going. I am a bit emotional at the moment," said Ian with the tears welling up. "Apart from one spat, myself and Conrad have become better friends than when we started and considering we have been on a 32 ft boat for 12 days, we have done well to keep each other going the whole time. We lost the autopilot days ago and we have sailed the last 900 miles hand steering the boat. It was a bloody hard race."

Ian's crew, Conrad Manning counts ballroom dancing and ironman competitions amongst his interests. "When people hear that I am racing on a pink boat and into ballroom dancing, they think I have completely lost my mind, which I probably have, but dancing is a great way to chill out," commented Conrad. "I love the Viennese Waltz but the last 12 days have been more like a jive and a jitterbug and a bit of everything thrown in. I have the Welsh Ironman in about three weeks time and I'm aiming for 12 hours which is a bit shorter than 12 days!"

Ian Hoddle and Conrad Manning have raised over £6,000 for CLIC Sargent. If you would like to donate to their cause:

Werner Landwehr's Figaro II, Dessert D'Alcyone crossed the finish line of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race shortly after midday on Sunday 24 August 2014, completing the race in an elapsed time of 13 days 03 hours 40 minutes 57 seconds, claiming third place in the Two Handed Class.

Werner comes from Helgoland and is 71 years of age: "In four years, we will start this race again and I hope we will be better," commented Werner. "I have taken part in many races, The Fastnet, Round Skagen and many more, but this was the hardest race of them all. We are very tired now but we are happy to have finished the race and we are looking forward to a cold beer.

"We lost all electrical power and decided to retire and sailed 120 miles back towards Edinburgh, but as we arrived there, we gave the battery one more try and it worked! We had to sail 240 miles to get back into the race and there was no way we could make that up. When we were rounding Muckle Flugga it was very cold with a lot of wind, maybe 45 knots and gusting more and the waves were very big."

With Dessert D'Alcyone's finish, the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race yachts are now accounted for, 18 yachts finished the course. Since the race has been run as a non-stop Round Britain and Ireland course, less than 100 yachts have managed this magnificent achievement.

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland

#rorcsrbi – Irish duo Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive continue their two–handed lead in the Round Britain and Ireland Race and send Afloat readers this morning update off the Scilly Isles, giving them under 300 miles to go and an expected finish sometime tomorrow...  'Day 10 (I think), Winds filled in quicker at Mizen head than we expected. Thank god we still have the A5 kite and she was great today. With no electronics on board we don't know speeds , but we were flying. We expected Rare to rocket past us today so we were going fast to hold him off. We are now 10 nm from the Scilly's and we took it down as it was getting to hard to hold. Lucky we decided to as there were two more areas needed sowing. Which our "McGeever" on board Brian duly did. Handy to have such a multitasker on board. We hope when we round the next Mark we might get one more spin out of the A 5. It's literally hanging on by a tread. 

On a lighter side the other night we had a show to remember. As anyone who sails knows there is an Algae in the water which when disturbed by the boats wake causes it to light up. On a really frustrating watch where the sky was pure black it was almost impossible to helm.

At night we usually pick a cloud or star to follow. A night with black clouds and little wind is exhausting. I was nearly in tears with frustration when the dolphins showed up. We see them every day but this night I presume it was the black sky but they were lit up white (from the Algae) and not only were they illuminated they left a 20' trail of illuminated water after them. 

It looked like the Red Arrows doing synchronized swimming. For 30 minutes I forgot about the Boat went and sat at the mast and watched the show of a lifetime. All day we see them break water but here you could see them underwater darting here and there. Sometimes 3 abreast going left, right left right over and over in perfect harmony leaving the illuminated trails in their wakes. It was an unbelievable sight. Nice of them to cheer a sailor up on a tough night.

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland

At 1230 BST, Damian Foxall's Musandam-Oman Sail were 520 miles from the finish of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. To set a new outright World Record, the MOD 70 needs to cross the Royal Yacht Squadron Line by 12:59:14 tomorrow (14th August).

Musandam-Oman Sail has been on the charge all morning and last night averaged over 25 knots, hitting a top speed of 35 knots. At that pace the World Record would be broken by over 3 hours. Before the famous Trimaran left Cowes on Monday morning, Foxall told a record breaking time was on the cards.

During the third night of the race, a northwesterly breeze of about 19 knots is expected in the Celtic Sea, which should be enough to keep Musandam-Oman Sail on for the record and make landfall at The Lizard around midnight tonight. During the night, the wind is expected to go lighter and back to the west, which could make for a dramatic last few hours as Musandam-Oman Sail round the Isle of Wight, before crossing the finish line from the east.

County Kerry's Damian Foxall called the RORC by satellite phone earlier today while racing at full pelt against the clock, past his native Ireland on the MOD 70.

"We are just 15 miles from Blackrock, in sunshine on the West Coast of Ireland. I can see Galway and Connemara to leeward," commented Damian. "The wind has just lined up beautifully and we haven't really needed to gybe, so we are just going straight, corner to corner, towards the next mark, Tearaght Island. We have the inkling of an idea that it might be possible, in a dream world, to beat Banque Populaire's record. We are pushing hard, towards near where I grew up; Bull Rock. With the wind going lighter and to the west, we will be dead down wind, which will mean a lot of gybes, but we will see how tomorrow goes; for now we are keeping alive the idea that we can break the course record."

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Volvo Ocean 65, Azzam, continues to lead the charge and has extended their lead on Team Campos, skippered by Iker Martinez, to over 30 miles. Ian Walker's team has a bevy of outstanding drivers, whom Walker praised when he spoke to the RORC Media team by satellite phone.

"10 miles until we can bear away at St Kilda and the thrashing will subside," commented Ian. "It was a tough night with up to 36 knots of wind and sustained periods of 30+. We have continued to push the boat as hard as we can - only once backing off as it felt like we were going to shake everything to pieces. I think it is paying good dividends having so many capable helmsmen, as we are going well. It is pretty intense on the body and mind. Most of the helmsmen's hands are in tatters for a start!"

Brian Thompson, skipper of IMOCA 60 Artemis-Team Endeavour, contacted the RORC Media Team as they rounded Out Stack. At their current projected finish time, Artemis-Team Endeavour will break the IMOCA 60 record, set in 2010, by over 24 hours.

"We haven't gone upwind since the start and, as we arrived at Muckle Flugga, the breeze switched around 180 degrees and we still haven't!" explained Brian. "I have held the overall record three times, including onboard Banque Populaire, so to add the IMOCA record would be fantastic. It's looking hopeful; four years ago it took Artemis two and a half days to get up to the top of the course, so we are already 12 hours ahead of their track. Apart from some bad sea-state plugging the tide at Great Yarmouth, we have been up to full pace. Right now, we are just taking it a leg at a time but we think we will be in Cowes for a Sunday Roast."

The competitors' blogs tell the story of the race through the words and pictures sent back by the fleet and one of the more humorous stories is told by Jankees Lampe's whose Open 40, La Promesse, is leading IRC One and currently 150 miles from Muckle Flugga. Earlier today, the Dutch skipper blogged about the culinary delights on board and the special dietary demands of his fellow Two-Handed crew.

"Bart Boosman's famous omelette (breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, whenever)
1. onions 2. onions 3. Red Leicester (cheddar) 4. eggs 5. pepper & salt 6. onions
The cooking is acrobatics. But, both Bart and I, prefer shaken, not stirred."

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland

#rorcsrbi – The five VO65s and MOD 70 Musandam-Oman Sail along with the rest of the fleet in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race power reached through the line and are now officially away for an 1800–mile blast around Britain and Ireland. Yesterday's start was posponed due to strong winds. AZZAM got the best start but Team SCA just blasted their way through to windward and were steaming ahead only minutes after the gun. Musandam-Oman Sail was only on one hull in a ball of spray, doing 30 knots! 

All 28 yachts are now heading east along the Solent having now started the 1800 mile race around Britain and Ireland. A large crowd of spectators outside the Royal Yacht Squadron saw the fleet away. In bright sunshine, with a stiff southwesterly wind and a significant positive tide, it was a magnificent start with yachts flying through the surf under spinnakers.

At 1130 BST, all of the fleet are now past Selsey Bill, experiencing over 30 knots of breeze as they reach at top speed along the south coast of England. Musandam-Oman Sail, skippered by Sidney Gavignet, has averaged 30 knots of boat speed since the start. If the MOD70 keeps that up the team will finish the course in two and a half days, smashing the course record.

"We could be very close to the record but I am not sure at this stage that we will break it," commented Sidney Gavignet. "The computer says we can, but the reality is that the sea state will probably slow us down a bit - and we will still have 40 knots overnight, so for this we don't want to rush as the quicker we go the more wind we will have."

The IRC and Class40 Fleet start saw Brian Thompson's IMOCA 60, Artemis - Team Endeavour, judge the line to perfection, blasting through the short chop at full power right on the gun. However, Andrew Budgen and Fred Schwyn's Volvo 70, Monster Project showed terrific downwind speed to take up the lead. The two canting keel downwind flyers are now locked in a high speed duel averaging 20 knots of boat speed and that battle is likely to continue for the next four or five days. Just two hours into the race, Artemis - Team Endeavour are leading overall after time correction from Monster Project.

Concise 8, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield, leads the Class40s, opening up a two mile gap on Burkhard Keese's German Class40, Stella Nova.

The five Volvo 65s screamed through the start line flying Code Zeros, all bar Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam, skippered by Ian Walker, which started with a smaller A3. Team SCA, skippered by Sam Davies, got the best start but Azzam soon peeled to the Code Zero to fly into the lead. However, Team Dongfeng, skippered by Frenchman Charles Caudrelier, was just in the lead at 1100 BST. Three teams have taken the lead in the Volvo 65 class in the first two hours, a pattern that may well continue right through the race.

IRC Zero
At this very early stage, Jens Kellinghusen's Ker 51, Varuna, is the class leader and third overall. In the last 12 months, Varuna has competed in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, RORC Caribbean 600 and the Transpac. Spanish navigator Guillermo Altadill and Australian Luke Molloy are on board to strengthen the highly experienced German crew. Varuna is fully lit up, averaging over 15 knots and surfing significantly faster in the downwind conditions.

Jankees Lampe's Open 40, La Promesse, is revelling in the downwind conditions. The other half of the Dutch Two-Handed team is Bart Boosman, who was shouting for joy at the Skippers' Briefing when he heard that the course was being reversed. La Promesse is trucking along, averaging over 15 knots, leading IRC One and the Two-Handed Class and fourth in IRC Overall.

The fleet of five yachts are virtually neck and neck, with Ross Applebey's Oyster 48, Scarlet Logic, leading the fleet by virtue of having the lowest rating in the class. However, the downwind start will be highly desirable for The Army Sailing Association's J/111, British Soldier, as well as Chris Radford's J/122, Relentless on Jellyfish.

Conrad Manning, racing Two-Handed on Ian Hoddle's Figaro II, Rare, sent this message from the race track. "What a sight! The VO65 fleet just came screaming past us and we can see Oman Sail flying on one hull at an incredible speed. We are really flying as well, it's blowing 30 knots out here and the speedo hasn't dropped below ten knots since we started!"

IRC Three and IRC Four
The only boat in IRC Four, Lula Belle, leads the two faster IRC Three boats, Change of Course and Ruag White Knight 7 on the water, a fantastic start for the Two-Handed team from Ireland. The three boats are fairly closely rated and will be looking forward to their own battle around the course which is likely to last almost two weeks.

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland
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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