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Round Ireland Day 4. 7pm: Baraka GP Avoids Getting Hung Up on Rathlin

3rd July 2018
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Crazy place, crazy lighthouse…….somebody built a classic lighthouse at Rathlin West, but then found the persistent local fog ceiling meant it made more sense to place the light itself at the tower’s base Crazy place, crazy lighthouse…….somebody built a classic lighthouse at Rathlin West, but then found the persistent local fog ceiling meant it made more sense to place the light itself at the tower’s base

Three years ago, after he’d navigated a Transatlantic Race winner to a mighty victory, his crewmates said admiringly of Ian Moore that having him aboard as navigator/tactician was as good as narrowing the ocean by at least 150 miles and probably much more writes W M Nixon

This evening, Moore has been giving a master-class in working every little twist of the coast to get the Ker 43 Baraka GP (Niall Dowling) past tide-riven Rathlin Island against both tide and wind. It’s very different from weather-reading skills in mid-ocean, but it’s all part of the multi-faceted Moore package.

Ian Moore Niall dowling 3694Baraka GP Navigator Ian Moore (left) and Skipper Niall Dowling Photo: Afloat.ie

Having taken the boat in towards the scenic Antrim coast to minimise the adverse effects of the full flowing ebb, he has been cliff-hopping along Rathlin’s steep north side after closing up with the island in its tidal shadow.

Round Ireland Jasaap 4377In the overall race handicap stakes, Pasternak Nicolas on Jaasap, a JPK 1010 tops the provisional leader-board, taking over from Stephen Quinn's J97 Lambay Rules (below) Photos: Afloat.ie

Lambay rules Howth Stephen quinn 0715

This is one odd island. You begin to realise that you’ve arrived at a crazy place when you notice that while the clifftop Rathlin West lighthouse may have an orthodox white tower, the actual light which should be that the top is at the base, sitting beside it, in order to keep it below the fog ceiling…….There’s the photo above to prove it.

"It’s still very much Game On, promising an interesting night of boat racing"

And as for Ian Moore’s tide-dodging, the ploy is working so well that Baraka has continued to improve her overall standing in the IRC fleet, going up from 6th to 4th and now first as the smaller challengers are slowed by plugging to windward in lumpy seas back off Donegal.

The off-the-wall Rathlin scenario - it’s something with which every persistent round Ireland competitor can readily identify. Years ago, this reporter found himself doing the circuit on a ramshackle 83ft Maxi well stricken in years, with sails to match. There were loose bits hanging out of the huge mainsail. It looked like anything but a racing mainsail. We were forcefully reminded of this as we dodged the foul tide right in under the Rathlin rock-face, and cliff-nesting seabirds tried to alight on our mainsail under the impression it was their multi-ledged home. I am not making this up.

Nor am I making up the fact that Baraka and her multi-talented crew are sailing a blinder. We hinted at the possibility yesterday of such a thing eventually arising, but didn’t expect to see it so soon, demonstrated quite so vividly and in this Rathlin place too – we were looking instead for an unexpectedly fast Irish Sea transit.

There’s still plenty of time for the Niall Dowling-skippered boat to get hung up by evening calm and the remains of the ebb past Fair Head. But the tide turns again by around 10.0pm, and we can be quite sure that Ian Moore will know of the local spots where it turns earlier – in some cases much earlier - and will make sure Baraka is right there if at all possible.

As it is, with Baraka close in – and we mean really close in - at Rathlin’s northeast corner at 6.30 pm and still somehow making good at all of 7 knots, all bets were off. Because she is now calculated as leading IRC overall on Corrected Time. Which shouldn’t be the case at all, but there it is, and though by 7.0pm she was slowed back to 5.0 knots over the ground, she’d broken through the Rathlin tidal gate and was round the corner and on her way.

Aurelia J122 Chris Power smith 3642Chris Power Smith's J122 Aurelia is up to fourth overall Photo: Afloat.ie

On down the line, the big news is that Chris Power Smith’s J/122 Aurelia has got her mojo back. With the Prof on board in fine form, Aurelia took a little private stab to seaward out west of Glencolmcille in Donegal, found herself a better breeze, and now she’s up to fourth overall, but still half an hour behind the miraculous Baraka. However, with the top six boats covering less than an hour, it’s still very much Game On, promising an interesting night of boat racing.

Irish offshore sailing 3627Rónán O'Siochrú's team on Irish Offshore Sailing's Desert Star, have overcome a spell of seasickness for some crew-members Photo: Afloat.ie

Race tracker and leaderboard HERE

Afloat.ie Round Ireland updates in this one handy link HERE

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