Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Pam Lee

The all-categories Round Ireland two-handed sailing record-holders, Greystones' Pamela Lee and shipmate Catherine Hunt, have been nominated as contenders for the Team of the Year Prize 2020 by, thereby renewing sailing's position at centre stage in national womens' sport.

When the determined duo headed south in the early morning light of Tuesday 13th October to start across the official Round Ireland Record Line from the Kish Lighthouse to Dun Laoghaire pierhead with their foiling Figaro 3 Iarracht Maigeanata provided by RL Sailing, their only stated aim was to establish a competitive time for a 700-mile round Ireland circuit by a two-handed female crew, as such a thing didn't exist at the time.

When the going was good………steady fast sailing like this was great for record-making, but the round Ireland challenge will always include a menu of frustrations to be overcome When the going was good………steady fast sailing like this was great for record-making, but the round Ireland challenge will always include a menu of frustrations to be overcome

But when they swept back across that same line again in the small hours of Saturday, October 17th, their time of 3 days 19 hrs 41 mins 39s proved to be a new all-categories two-handed record, as they'd bettered the previous best – an all-male two-handed crew in a larger Class 40 – by three hours and two minutes.

It had been a tough sail, with total-concentration hard-driving interrupted by occasional frustrating calms. And while the Irish sailing community following them every inch of the way on Yellowbrick tracker would have been well pleased if they'd got round within four days, a final mad sprint through the dark down the North Channel and Irish Sea to the finish put them very firmly into the record books across all listings.

Commenting on their nomination, Pamela Lee said yesterday evening: "We're very proud to have been able to bring sailing and offshore sailing in particular into this conversation for 2020 – may it be the first of many".

The determined duo. Cat Hunt and Pam Lee proved to be the ideal double team throughout a carefully-orchestrated challengeThe determined duo. Cat Hunt and Pam Lee proved to be the ideal double team throughout a carefully-orchestrated challenge

Female Two-handed Round Ireland Speed Record: The Iarracht Maigeanta Two-Handed Round Ireland Record Challenge by Pamela Lee and Cat Hunt of Greystones Harbour Sailing Club just got better and better through yesterday evening and last night as they swept – with impressively consistent speed - through the final hundred miles southward from the Antrim coast to a new record in Dublin Bay, riding on a potent combination of good sailing in a very workable mostly east to southeast breeze, and a fortuitously timed combination of favourable tides to finish at 0327 hrs this (Saturday) morning.

Yet at 1600hrs yesterday afternoon, as their Figaro 3 sat off the Antrim coast between Glenarm and Larne, virtually becalmed and locked in an adverse tide, few would have thought that such a magnificent performance could have been achieved following a frustating afternoon in which expected winds had failed to materialize.

But the transformation of their prospects was already complete by 1800 hrs yesterday evening. With the wind back again from the east and a strong new flood tide pushing them south along the Count Down coast with speeds soon getting into double figures, the possible time for their arrival at the World Sailing Speed Records Committee line in Dublin Bay from the Kish Lighthouse to Dun Laoghaire's East Pier in Dublin Bay just kept getting better and better.

Sailing Magenta Round Ireland Tracker

Yesterday afternoon, the hope of making it round within four days – that is, finishing before 0745 hrs on Saturday - was starting to look like a long shot. Yet by 2200 hrs last night, the continuing combination of favourable conditions was such that the four day circuit seemed well within sight and it was a question of by how much, with a finish time between 0400 and 0500 looking increasingly likely.

Well, they did even better than that again. In due course the very deliberative workings of the WSSRC will come up with their final figure. But according to the Yellowbrick Tracker loaned for the Iarracht Maigeanta/RL Sailing challenge by the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association, Iarracht Maigeanta and her tired but very happy crew were home and dry around 0327 hrs.

For temporary convenience, let's conservatively call it 0330hrs. Thus Pam Lee and Cat Hunt have completed the circuit in 3 days 19 hours and 45 minutes. It's a fabulous performance, as the previous best two-hander by Aodhan Fitzgerald and Yannick Lemonnier in a Figaro 2 in the 2004 Round Ireland Race from Wicklow was 4 days and 6 hours, and that has long been thought an impressive figure.

We'll be doing a more detailed analysis of it all in the fullness of time. But just to give it further perspective and its proper historic position, the much-admired record established by Denis Doyle in the fully-crewed Frers 51 Moonduster in 1984 stood at 3 days 16 hours and 15 minutes. That a much smaller Figaro 3 sailed double-handed should get within three and a half hours of that monumental time is really very exceptional indeed, and the mood in Greystones, where Iarrache Maigeanta is now serenely home in her marina berth, is very rightly on a high as Pamela Lee and Cat Hunt take their well-earned chance to do a bit of serious sleeping for Ireland.

Read all of Afloat's coverage of this Round Ireland speed record in one handy link here

Female Two-handed Round Ireland Record Day Four 2100hrs: The situation became transformed. It was like the clicking of a switch. Or so it seemed to those on the edge of their seats ashore, as they watched on screen as the Figaro 3 Iarracht Maigenta struggled with little wind against the last of the ebb tide off the Antrim coast at Glenarm. First, there came the breath of a fresher breeze from between southeast and east to bring the boat to life. And then by 1800hrs, the new flood tide was surging them on their way, zapping two-handed crew Pam Lee and Cat Hunt south across Belfast Lough and past Mew Island in jig time, such that they were tearing along the County Down coast with their speed over the ground comfortably into the double digits.

Admittedly the pace slowed a little as they swept past the South Rock at 2000 hrs and began to get away from the most powerful stream of tide. But they'll still have something of it in their favour until St John's Point is abeam, provided the breeze keeps up.

Sailing Magenta Round Ireland Tracker

On the present rate of going, St John's will be there - though well to the west – around 2130, and this is where things start to get extra-interesting. If they can keep up their beam reaching speed around the 8 knots mark through the water, they can then make the classic hop of going from the last of the south-going flood as it peters out east of the entrance to Carlingford Lough, and make the leap across slack water for an hour or so until they then begin to feel the very first of the ebb in the new tidal system where the flood goes north, but the ebb is favourably going south.

It will be doing so with real determination as it accelerates south past Rockabill. As of 2100, Rockabill is still 48 miles away, while the finish line is 63 miles distant. You do the maths. If this good easterly breeze keeps up and they can be hovering between 7 and 8 knots through the water, the four day circuit is a distinct possibility, as to do it they've to be past the Kish by 0745 hrs tomorrow (Saturday) morning, and the current rate of progress allows them a bit of leeway on that.

But as we've seen, the winds today are in a capricious mood, even if a proper southeaster is in the offing. The tension in this project will be maintained right to the end.

Published in Offshore

Female Two-handed Round Ireland Record Day Four 1500hrs:  The North Channel is one very unforgiving bit of water to go sailing on. It only gives you the gift of a fair tide for just long enough to begin to think that the dark cliffs of the inappropriately-named Fair Head and the gloom-inducing Mull of Kintyre aren't such oppressive bits of coastline after all as you buzz merrily along in the morning sunshine. And then the tide turns. The wind shuts down. And in near calm, you can appreciate only too well the sheer unfeasibly enormous vastness of this bulk of water moving in the wrong direction, struggling as you are to squeeze enough speed out of your boat simply to hold your own until the tide turns again. Meanwhile, the steep coastline becomes spookily claustrophobic.

We left round Ireland two-handed record challengers Pam Lee and Cat Hunt this morning as merry as grigs after they'd swept in past Rathlin with a grand fair flood tide at sometimes better than 12 knots over the ground. And we hoped that there was still enough life left in the flood to carry them well on their way towards the South Rock off the County Down coast, where tidal streams start to be less dominant.

But was not to be. At least they'd got a far as Glenarm, and south of the very worst of the foul tide. But the new ebb soon built up to strength, the wind – such as it was - drew more from the south and eased, and speeds of 2 knots or less over the ground became the order of the day.

Sailing Magenta Round Ireland Tracker

It will be 6 o'clock this evening before they have significant tide in their favour, but then it's good news, as every bit of southing they make taking them closer to the Irish Sea's relatively tide-free western sector. And it all brings them closer to the bit of more active weather that's distantly developing to the far southwest of Ireland, and should be preceded by a decent sou'easter which might even be the leading wind to bring them into Dublin Bay to complete the circuit within four days – deadline is 0745 tomorrow (Saturday).

But for now, they can have to live with seeing the Antrim coast in slow detail, and imagining life in Glenarm Castle up on the heights. It's the stronghold of the Mac Donnells, the Earls of Antrim, who were originally the Lords of the Isles in the Hebrides, but moved their HQ south when they found the real estate was of better quality in Ireland.

However, they never lost their love of the isles, so by tradition, each deceased member of the family is buried upright in the family graveyard on top of the hill so that he or she can look out over the coasts and islands and waterways that were their extensive domain.

But once upon a time, a notably unpopular member of the family died, and none of his relatives could be bothered to come home for the funeral. So the faithful retainers of the descendants of the Lords of the Isles struggled on their own up the hillside with the loathed one's very heavy coffin and buried him head down.

Female Two-handed Round Ireland Record Day Four 0900hrs: When Pam Lee and Cat Hunt entered Day 3 of their Magenta Project Round Ireland Challenge at 0745 hrs this morning (Friday), they were nearer the Scottish coast than they were to the northern shores of Ireland. But they were reaping the benefit of the new favourable flood tide, after a difficult night spent beating to windward into the Sea of Moyle, the appropriate-sounding ancient name for the tide-riven area between the north of Ireland and the large Scottish southern Hebridean island of Islay.

Back at midnight, they'd got to Inishtrahull. But with the barometer rising, there was every chance that the calm which was settling over central Ireland for the night would spread northward over the sea. Thus any notion of short-tacking inshore along the north Irish Coast, in search of slacker water as the ebb tide ran west at full blast, was abandoned in favour of shaping a course well offshore where southeast to east wind was still to be found, even if there was little or no relenting of the adverse tides.

Rathlin Island, Ireland's supreme tidal gateRathlin Island, Ireland's supreme tidal gate
They were around 5 miles from Islay's southwest headland as they tacked with the new flood starting make properly at 0640 hrs, with speed in a local tidal hot-spot at one stage getting up to 10 knots. And now, at 0840 and out in the less excitable waters getting rapidly clear of the Islay coast with a crisp passage past the supreme tidal gate of Rathlin Island in prospect, they are around 9.4 knots and rising, making the best of a light easterly and a surging fair tide.

Sailing Magenta Round Ireland Tracker

The conditions and their course are such that the tide will help to sharpen the apparent wind strength without making the sea unduly rough, so conditions are maximised for smooth progress by a tired crew brought back to life by real progress after an exceptionally difficult and wearing night.

After they've passed Fair Head and Tor Head on Ireland's northeast corner, they're clear of the worst of the tidal blackspot, and though a favourable tide right through the North Channel to the South Rock Light would be a bonus, as the new ebb begins to start running north again around noon that would be too much to hope for.

But with moderate mainly easterly winds forecast today for the North Channel, and with east to southeast wind indicated for the final leg from the South Rock to the official record line at the Kish Light off Dublin Bay, they've a good chance of continuing in a leading wind and overcoming any unfavourable tides for the rest of the day after the mighty hurdle of Rathlin has been cleared.

Next Magenta update on will be early this afternoon, but meanwhile, at 0900 hrs they've 136 miles to the finish, and SOG is 10 knots.


Female Two-handed Round Ireland Record Day Two 0900hrs:  The Magenta Round Ireland two-handed record challenge Record campaign from Dublin Bay by Pam Lee and Cat Hunt of RL Sailing and Greystones has logged an excellent start in its first 24 hours. They put the Fastnet Rock astern at 0400hrs this morning, and at 0745 hrs – just 24 hours after they started from the official records Kish Lighthouse-Dun Laoghaire Pier line in Dublin Bay – they were passing Dursey Head, the first headland of the majestic Kerry coast.

Having made many good miles in sometimes boisterous but always favourable northwest to northeast wind, they are now facing lighter conditions off the southwestern seaboard, something which had been predicted as the breeze veers until eventually, it's hoped, it will settle in more firmly as an easterly to give fair winds as far as distant northwest Mayo, when it's even possible another veering will provide a reach across to Tory Island.

Pam Lee and Cat Hunt at 0945 this morning off the County Kerry coast. Scroll down for live tracker belowPam Lee and Cat Hunt at 0945 this morning off the County Kerry coast. Scroll down for live tracker below

That's some time in the future. Meanwhile, the Magenta Shore Team, headed by Kenneth Rumball, are well pleased by the relatively steady progress past the often tricky stage from the Fastnet to Dursey. And while at Dursey Head itself there was a slight pause as speed fell back to 5.5 knots, they'd soon found the veering nor'easter had settled in with more vigour to give them better than 8 knots, and comfortably on track for the next course adjustment at Skellig Michael.

It's said that any single sailor, soldier or airman on active service needs about seven people providing background comprehensive support ashore, and while the Magenta Project direct shore management team doesn't quite reach the total of 14 this might suggest, nevertheless it's an impressive international array of talent. Headed by Kenneth Rumball of Irish National Sailing School, it includes communications co-ordination by Volvo Ocean Race media veteran Brian Carlin (originally of Kerry), while tactical and strategic advice is continuously available from ashore through Miles Seddon and Libby Greenhalgh, and additional support comes from Hannah Hunt (Cat's sister) and Abby Elher of the Agenta Project.

Brian Carlin of Kerry headed the international press team on the 2017 Volvo Ocean Race, and is much involved on he shore team with the Magenta ChallengeBrian Carlin of Kerry headed the international press team on the 2017 Volvo Ocean Race and is much involved on the shore team with the Magenta Challenge

Behind it all is the benevolent but very effective presence of Big Daddy. aka Marcus Hutchinson of Howth, Kinsale and Brittany, whose exceptional knowledge of campaigning a Figaro boat is rivalled only by his access to boat resources in areas like IMOCA 60s and the entire Figaro selection. It was Uncle Marcus who came up with the state-of-the-art Figaro 3 which had made this possible, and much helpful advice and encouragement with practical support has come from him with it.

There are many other less direct supporters in technical, equipment and sail services, while the stamp of officialdom is provided by Chris Moore of Dun Laoghaire, the former National YC Commodore who is currently in the onerous role of DBSC Honorary Secretary, yet somehow finds time to be Ireland's World Sailing Speed Records Commissioner too, and thus his presence on the start line yesterday morning in DBSC's Committee Boat Freebird made it all very official.

Chris Moore of DBSC and the NYC is Ireland's World Sailing Records CommissionerChris Moore of DBSC and the NYC is Ireland's World Sailing Records Commissioner

Yet even with all the shoreside support and widespread goodwill, for much of the time, it comes down to two female sailors very much on their own out in the Atlantic in volatile weather. Although the next underlying problem may well eventually be a softness of wind strength as high pressure gradually comes to dominate the weather systems, yesterday evening there was plenty of wind about from the north as Magenta Project scooted along far at sea off the coast of East Cork, and at 1910hrs there was a sudden adjustment of course downwind and an easing of speed which caused concern for those ashore about sail or rigging damage.

But instead, it was a prudent easing of the pressure in order to change as safely as possible from the A5 spinnaker - which had carried them so well and so quickly from Dublin Bay - to the now more useful Code Zero, and in the relatively conservative approach which had underlined the first day of the challenge, this was very much the right way to do it, and soon they were back to 12.5 knots, and blasting west into the night, on towards the Fastnet.

Sailing Magenta Round Ireland Record Tracker

Female Two-handed Round Ireland Record Day One 1400: Kish Lighthouse for breakfast. Tuskar Rock for lunch. That's the way it is for Pam Lee and Cat Hunt as they've scorched down Ireland's East Coast in a fine fair wind with a sluicing ebb tide in the Beneteau Figaro Magenta Project, intent on establishing a significant female two-handed Round Ireland record

Eight o'clock this morning saw them sweeping away from Dublin Bay in gathering sunshine and brisk northwest to north winds. But at this early stage of the challenge, we haven't seen any incredible speed bursts, as the secret is to avoid damage to the boat in general and sails in particular as they take advantage of a wind and tide system which is panning out very nicely, and will get them on to the south coast and west of the Coningbeg by mid-afternoon.

Magenta Sailing Round Ireland TrackerA significant female two-handed Round Ireland record in the making - see live tracker below

In doing so, they're achieving a steady and more-than-respectable average speed of upwards of 11 knots, and in closing in on the Tuskar with the favourable tide doing some serious work, they're showing better than 13 knots over the ground.

Visibility is currently good at that often misty corner of Ireland, but they'll be so busy they'll scarcely have time to appreciate the views, or the irony of the crowded wind farm of giant turbines on Carnsore Point. It was there that people camped out for months in protest against the possible sitting on the point of a nuclear power plant, so now instead the locals are left with giant turbines whirling in sinister style all about them.

However, Magenta Project's ship's company will be busy at other work, optimising their sail plan for a speedy reach along the south coast, which may well see them thinking in terms of dinner a la main as they zoom on past the Old head of Kinsale.

Sailing Magenta Round Ireland Record Tracker


Track Ireland's female 675 nautical mile round Ireland sailing record bid below as the Figaro3 races 675-nautical miles against the clock to establish a new Irish sailing record.

The foiling Figaro 3 Magenta Project - double-handed by Greystone's Pamela Lee and Cat Hunt - blasted south from the official Round Ireland Records line, which is eight miles long between the Kish Lighthouse and the Dun Laoghaire East Pier Lighthouse. 

Read the latest on the record bid by WM Nixon here 

Sailing Magenta Round Ireland 450 Tracker


Tagged under
Who is Your Sailor of the Year 2021?
Total Votes:
First Vote:
Last Vote:

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2022

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating