Displaying items by tag: Round Britain and Ireland Race
By sunset tonight all of the competitors racing in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race will have rounded Muckle Flugga. For many of them it has been a long hard slog up the North Sea writes Louay Habib.
The leaders are literally at the other end of the course. At 1200 BST, Volvo Open 70, Groupama is just 65 miles from the Scilly Isles. They have chosen a course north of the rhumb line, presumably to take advantage of any new breeze that may emanate from the Bristol Channel. Teléfonica has gybed south and it is anticipated that Groupama will cover them. Groupama have 290 miles to go to the finish of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race; Teléfonica are 20 miles behind. Both are expected to finish in Cowes by Sunday afternoon. Obviously this estimated time of arrival will be dependent on the wind strength.
The overall lead under IRC has changed yet again, Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens is back in the lead. The Dutch yacht is blasting down the west coast of Ireland trying to hang on to the coat-tails of the British Keelboat Academy's TP52, John Merricks II. Before the start of this epic race, the young team were desperately short of funds and up until the last minute, they did not know if they could afford to enter. None of the crew is paid to race, but maintaining and provisioning a TP52 is an expensive business; feeding 18 people for over a week is a huge amount of food. Before the start, they got a helping hand: "This is a tough race and when we heard that the young talented sailors on John Merricks II needed a hand, we were delighted to help," commented ICAP Leopard's Boat Captain, Chris Sherlock. "Racing a TP52 1800 miles takes some doing, but they won't be going hungry. John Merricks are really tight on budget, so with the compliments of ICAP Leopard, they have enough freeze-dried meals to get them around the gruelling course. Best of luck to them."
Doug Innes' First 40.7, Cheeki Rafiki rounded Muckle Flugga in the early hours of the morning. Crewman Ken Allison sums up what it was like to be so far north: "The coldest night so far, up the northwest coast of Shetland, round to Muggle Flugga (isn't that a name you want to spell badly). The phones and internet all sprang into life as we got close to Shetland and civilisation. This gave our first glimpse at how the race has been going for three days. It's great to receive emails and texts from friends and loved ones, wishing us well and offering advice. Plan A seems to be: try to break things less often, trim things more often and keep pushing south. That works for me."
High pressure is working its way across the racecourse from the southwest, giving the fleet far more pleasant conditions. However, for the competitors approaching the west coast of Ireland, there is still a decent moderate breeze from the northwest, pushing them on to finish this challenging race.
Almost exactly two days into the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, Franck Cammas' Volvo Open 70, Groupama, was the first yacht to round Muckle Flugga at 1400 BST. They are now heading southwest at a speed of over 17 knots with their 19-mile lead rapidly increasing over their rivals Telefonica Azul, who are still beating up to Muckle Flugga reports Louay Habib.
Jonny Malbon's IMOCA 60, Artemis Ocean Racing, has 77 miles to go to reach the top of the course and will round the remote island alone, as they have been for much of this race. On board is Olympic 49er medallist, Simon Hiscocks who is very much at home racing a 49er or an extreme 40, but offshore racing is a very new concept to him. (See Simon's video blog http://sevenstar.rorc.org/newsblogsphotos.html
Artemis Ocean Racing is going well and 48 hours into the race they are second overall under IRC behind Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens. Early leaders on handicap, the British Keelboat Academy's TP52, John Merricks II, are now third overall but sailing further offshore and look to be getting into more breeze.
Meanwhile the young crew on Tony Lawson's Class 40, Concise are feeling the effects of this brutal race. "We are cold, wet and busting a gut to keep up with the bigger boats in front of us." Said Tom Gall, skipper of Concise. "The boat has been like a submarine since we left Cowes and we are living off tea and porridge. Tom Dawson comes from Newcastle, and when we passed his home town, he told us how good the fish and chips are. I must say I was licking my lips when I told him to belt-up. This is a tough, tough race but when I look at the crew around me, I just well up with pride for what we are doing."
In IRC Two, Adrian Lower's Swan 44, Selene, is top of the class and has opened up a nine-mile lead on Harry Heijst's S&S 41, Winsome. This may be down to their secret weapon, Tabasco: "We have more bottles of the pepper sauce on board than we have crew," admitted Adrian. "It helps spice up the bland food and warms up the lads as we go north. We are taking part in this race, partly for the challenge of sailing round our Island non-stop, but also to show that an old boat can be competitive."
Driving rain is sweeping across the racecourse but the good news is that the severe weather predicted for Thursday may well be further south than expected. Lighter conditions may well prevail tonight, but one thing that is certain about the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race; nothing can be taken for granted.
The Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race is being tracked with OCTrackers. Each boat is supplied with an OCTracker beacon, a self contained unit that transmits the position of the boat at regular intervals using GPS. You can watch the race as it unfolds by visiting: http://sevenstar.rorc.org/tracking.html
22,000 people are also playing the virtual race game. It's not too late to join the race. Sign up via the website: (http://sevenstar.rorc.org/).