In Ireland throughout July, interest in sailing has been almost completely absorbed by a multiplicity of events in which major happenings such as the Volvo Round Ireland race, Cork Week and the Beaufort Cup have been only the peaks of a continuous tapestry of fascinating sport writes W M Nixon.
Yet during all this time, the competitors in the Golden Globe race have been doggedly making their way southwards – sometimes very slowly as they negotiate the Doldrums and other calm areas - towards their eventual appointment with destiny in the Southern Ocean, and ultimately with Cape Horn.
It’s a measure of the scale of what they’ve undertaken that, after a month, some of the competitors have yet to sail just 10% of the course. But others have been going at it in a much more purposeful way, and as anticipated before the start, the vintage British-built Holman & Pye-designed boats of the Rustler 36 sloop type have proven fastest, holding the five top place with Philip Peche (France) shown as leading with “only” 21,680 miles to sail back to Les Sables d’Olonne, while senior skipper Jean luc van den Heede, also France, is second and The Netherland’s Mark Slats is third.
However, this is with the fleet well spread across the Equatorial Atlantic between Africa and South America, and Ireland’s Conor McGuckian in his Biscay 36 ketch-rigged Hanley Energy Endurance on the western side of the fleet has been having his moments.
He leads all the ketches, he has been up to sixth place on the water when the going was good, and back off Portugal he recorded one of the best day’s runs of the entire fleet. At the moment he’s logging 6.9 knots and due to cross the Equator today (Monday), but with 22,064 miles still to sail.
Race tracker here