Yesterday evening, the all-conquering Baraka GP had enough breeze and hull speed to break through the foul tide at Rathlin Island and Fair Head in some style, writes W M Nixon.
But tonight (Wednesday 4 July), there has been no breeze in the same area, yet the foul tide is there with equal vigour, and Round Ireland Yacht Race boats have been ground to a halt.
Paul O’Higgins’ Rockabill VI has kedged just east of Rathlin’s northeast point. Slightly to the south, off Fair Head, the biggest boat in the fleet, the Swan 65 Desperado of Richard Loftus, may be shown as making 3.2 knots, but it’s in a northerly direction and she has no steerage way, so not for the first time, ‘Un-Fair Head’ is in the Round Ireland lexicon.
It will be 11pm by the time there’s any easing of the adverse stream. Meanwhile, down off the southeast corner of Belfast Lough, Chris Power Smith’s J/199 Aurelia may have to work to windward, but she’s registering 4.6 knots in more or less the right direction, and is well placed in the role of leader of the ‘real’ Round Ireland Race.
However, with boats well slowed off the north coast, the British Services crew racing the X41 Team Fujitsu beside Aurelia have moved up the rankings despite their high rating, and they’re now next in line, but still nearly two hours behind Aurelia on corrected time.
Up ahead, there are two Class 40s close in off the Co Down coast, with Corum showing clear in front again after being challenged for some time by Hydra. Between them is the very high-rated Ker 40 Hooligan, which may improve her overall standing now that she has got through the worst of the tides by putting the South Rock astern, but her stratospheric handicap number still means she’s way back at 29th overall.
Much further south, and out on her own approaching Lambay, is the Volvo 690 Libertalia Team Jolokia from France, enjoying the brisk sou’easter which is localised in the Greater Dublin region, but she still is at a lowly 38th overall despite being well on track to take second in line honours.
So there’s no doubt that, as Peter Ryan of ISORA sagaciously predicted before the start, this is turning out to be the oddest Round Ireland race that has yet been staged in the 38 years history of the event.
By tomorrow, the northern half of the country should be experiencing the northwest to north winds which are already bringing the two Mini 6.5s Port of Galway (Yannick Lemonnier) and Blackshell Farm (Louis Mulloy) scampering up towards Malin Head under spinnaker. But it’s a moot point how far the new winds will get before they peter out.
We will see in the morning, but for now here’s the Race Tracker and Leaderboard for the current crazy state of play.