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Favourable Conditions Continue for Female Two-Handed Round Ireland Challenge

15th October 2020
Cat Hunt (left) and Pamela Lee in Greystones Marina before their unique challenge began Cat Hunt (left) and Pamela Lee in Greystones Marina before their unique challenge began

Female Two-handed Round Ireland Record Day Three 0900hrs: At 0745 hours this morning, Pamela Lee and Catherine Hunt in the Beneteau Figaro 3 Iarracht Maigeanta had put County Mayo's northwest headlands of Eagle Island and Erris Head well astern, and were reaching across Donegal Bay towards their next major turning point of Tory Island off northwest Donegal in a moderate southeast breeze which provided reasonably smooth seas and steady progress.

Behind this deceptively humdrum progress report, there is a universe of achievement and competent campaigning. For 0745 hrs marked just two days into their circuit, which started from Dublin Bay on Tuesday morning. Yet by having the entire west coast of Connacht astern before those two days had elapsed, they were already well into the second half of their voyage.

Any boat sailing round Ireland from Dublin Bay in whatever direction reaches the halfway stage at Slyne Head off southwest Connemara, and in our signing-off report yesterday evening, we hoped they might be getting there near midnight. It was a qualified hope, as some forecasts were showing last night's cold calms over central Ireland spreading mistly over the Atlantic coast. But on the contrary, the coastal and offshore easterlies held up well, and while it was cold, progress was improving, and bang on time at midnight they were on the latitude of Slyne Head, though well at sea and sailing smoothly on course towards Achill at 8.8 knots.

Sailing Magenta Round Ireland Tracker

As they've reported to Shore Manager Kenneth Rumball, once they'd got north of the lumpier seas around the Blasket Islands yesterday, the steadier going enabled them to catch up on some sleep, but the uneven nature of the generally easterly wind's gradual progress of settling into being a steady breeze meant busy sail changes from time to time, yet they were still strengthening their mental and physical reserves for what looked like being a long cold night.

It was a cold night, but with the useful breeze on the beam and "the wind off the grass", the great headlands went past like clockwork, with Achill astern by 0330, and the dawn still barely hinting as Erris Head went by at 0615. Speeds were briefly reduced to 6.8 knots, but with the knots now up to 8.3 again as they make their way in a sou'easterly across towards Donegal at 0830 this morning, it's nicely on track.

Conditions are looking good for steady progress as far as Ireland's north point at Malin Head, as the course from Tory to the edge of the Malin and Inishtrahull outlying rocks is sufficiently north of east to continue to give them a leading wind. After Malin, it's a different sailing game entirely, as they're effectively into the beginnings of the North Channel's sailing problems of strong tides and frequent local wind variations all the way to the South Rock light off the County Down Coast.

It's always one of the trickiest stages. But as of now, with a real element of an easterly direction already being accommodated into their course to show they're homeward bound, the Pamela Hunt and Catherine Lee Two-Handed Round Ireland Challenge is going very well indeed.

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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