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Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race - 14 August 2006 - Morning Press Release

14 August, 2006 11:28:00 AM BST | Racetime 06:17:28:00

Jonny Malbon's Open 60, Artemis Ocean Racing, looks all set for an early finish to the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race with just 160 miles to the finish after a blistering downwind run along the east coast of Britain. Surfing at speeds touching 23 knots, Artemis Ocean Racing, has streaked away from the fleet and currently enjoys around a 150 mile lead over second place Solune of J-P Chomette with Ger O'Rourke's Kingspan - Chieftain back in third on the water. Predicted finishing times for the leaders put them arriving back in Cowes either overnight on Monday or early on Tuesday morning as the wind conditions are likely to shift and drop to produce lighter westerly breezes potentially meaning a beat down the Channel to the Solent.

Speaking this morning from onboard Artemis Ocean Racing, navigator Will Oxley gave a glimpse into his world saying: "Hi from a fast, wet and furious Artemis as we reach past the entrance to the Thames in 20-25 knots of breeze under Solent and one reef in the main. It is raining but we are getting much wetter from the fire-hose that is the ocean as we slice through the water. The boys are having fun!! We are averaging in excess of 15 knots as we head towards Dover. We are all a bit wet and rather tired after dodging rigs and sandbanks all night at high speed but looking forward to a finish probably overnight. I'd like to think it was quicker than that, but these conditions are not set to last and it looks like we might finish in frustratingly light headwinds. Still it has been a great sleigh ride for most of the way down the North Sea and this has really given Artemis the chance to strut her stuff. Well best get back to watching the chart and the radar as there is poor visibility and quite a bit of traffic. We are about 20 miles to the north east of North Foreland as at 0835."

As the leading boats look forward to a warm shower and proper food within the next 24-48 hours, the majority of the fleet are still climbing their way northwards to the Shetland Isles and the turning point of Muckle Flugga. The persistent north to north westerly breezes have made the long fetch arduous for many of the fleet and last night the skipper of the Farr 45 Unlimited Sailing/John Merricks, Nigel King reported an incident with their mainsail. "At about 1:00 am this morning the head of our main dropped after coming undone from the main halyard. It was immediately obvious that we would need to make some serious repairs to the sail and the headboard. We got the mainsail completely down in order to repair it properly, leaving us without our main source of power. After clearing a space below deck we started on what was to be a very intense repair. Up on deck we turned away from the wind to safely get Rob Hoey (25 from Newton Abbot) up the mast to fetch the main halyard. It was a bit bumpy for him but he's come back down without too many bruises. Five hours later we were back on track, although we've given away a lot of time to the boats behind us and let the boats in front extend their lead.

As the race progresses the RORC will continue to bring daily updates and position reports from the boats highlighting the highs and lows of this premier coastal yacht race. All yachts competing in the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race have been fitted with a tracking device developed by the RORC in conjunction with OC Technology. Yacht positions will be updated half-hourly and can be followed on the Royal Ocean Racing Club's dedicated micro site accessed via www.rorc.org

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