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Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race - 15 August 2006 - Afternoon Web Update

15 August, 2006 5:40:00 PM BST | Racetime 07:23:40:00

After battling adverse tide and a softening breeze all day today, J-P Chomette brought his Nacira 60, Solune, across the finish line at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes at 1605 to claim second place on the water in the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race. The lighter conditions in the English Channel were in stark contrast to the previous week's hair-raising conditions that saw Solune hitting speeds in the 23-26 knot bracket as she rocketed down the east coast of Britain eventually trailing in behind Jonny Malbon's Artemis Ocean Racing by over 17 hours.

For Ger O'Rourke's third placed (on the water) Kingspan - Chieftain it will be an anxious few hours as they desperately try to make it across the line and crucially seal the overall IRC Division A corrected time title. With just over 70 miles left to run, the crew of Kingspan - Chieftain are battling against the clock for the top honours and despite intense fatigue are still confident of overall victory. The estimated time that they have in hand runs out at approximately 2300 hrs tonight so there's still all to play for.

Meanwhile, the relentless rounding of Muckle Flugga continues for the bulk of the fleet with Andrew Pearce's Magnum II and Andy Middleton's Global Yacht Racing Incisor already on the downwind sleigh ride home. The Tom Hayhoe/Natalie Jobling entered Mostly Harmless leads a very tight race ahead of Phil Sharp's Needasponsor.co.uk and Philippe Falle's Puma Logic who are neck and neck and looking forward to setting spinnakers for the trip home. Both Needasponsor.co.uk and Mostly Harmless reported into race control this afternoon to say that although the crews were all safe and well they were both rather "cold" as the bleak conditions of Britain's most northerly point takes its toll!

There's another very close battle emerging down the east coast of Britain between the Andrews 56 Nordeutsche Vermogen of Volker Linzer and the young ocean superstars of tomorrow onboard the Farr 45 Unlimited Sailing/ John Merricks. Currently the youngsters, with an average age of just 23, are having the best of the conditions and are pushing hard to try and claim the IRC Division B title which keeps chopping and changing between themselves and the chasing Ker 11.3 of Anthony Richards, Minnie the Moocher on the predicted corrected time scoreboard. The next 24-36 hours will be crucial in deciding the outcome.

As the race comes to its conclusion 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 hourly and can be followed on the Royal Ocean Racing Club's dedicated micro site accessed via www.rorc.org

Quotes from the boats -

Jeu D'Esprit - Clem Jones (J/160)

Well done to Artemis on their swift completion of the race, we note they were looking forward to a shower after crossing the finish line we on the other hand after having a shower are looking forward to eventually crossing the finishing line. As for the yachts flying down the east coast just to say we are missing you and have been since the start. Today was going to be 'the day' we pass Muckle Flugga according to Mystic Chart Wizard our navigator but just like yesterday it may be tomorrow. He has since been passed over to sail repairs. We have been steadily beating north for the past two days via the Hebrides and the Orkney Islands but unlike the promised forecast we have been crawling in F2-3 which has slowed us considerably. Morale on board is excellent as was last night dinner. The naughty draw is no longer brimming with endless bars of Green & Blacks finest but thinning out to Muesli bars and McVities!

Unlimited Sailing / John Merricks: Double the speed, double the fun
Farr 45 Unlimited Sailing / John Merricks has finally turned the corner and is now just over 450 miles from the finish line off Cowes, Isle of Wight. Heading down the east coast of Britain, the boat and crew, all members of the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme, are finally experiencing the fast paced reaching conditions that they have been craving over the last 1300 miles. Overnight the boat has jumped up four places into fourth overall, gaining back miles lost during their essential sail repair on day seven. "We've had a great night!" Charlotte Lawrence from Lymington disclosed. "We finally went around Muckle Flugga at about 17:00 yesterday, hoisted the spinnaker and watched our speed double. We've been getting on average 21 knots out of the boat which made the fact that there's water coming over the deck and that my socks have been wet for the last five days worth it. We've spent the entire trip waiting for this moment and it's so exhilarating to finally be off port tack and to get the boat on a reach." Lawrence, 19, a student at Edinburgh University continued, "We have spent the night dodging massive oil rigs, which at night are all lit up like Christmas trees. We're trying to keep the boat at max speed, which has meant that several crew members have been falling out of their bunks while trying to catch some sleep; however, there are a lot more smiling faces on deck." We've recently caught sight of Norddeutsche (a 56-foot race boat), on the horizon. Norddeutsche pulled away from us while we made some repairs, all of which are holding really well. Today we hope to reel Norddeutsche in and close the gap." Lawrence concluded, "It's great fun out here now so let's just hope the wind, currently at 32 knots, holds in this direction."

Minnie the Moocher, Tuesday
On our way home! How good that sounds! We rounded Muckle Flugga last night after what seemed to be the whole day punching strong adverse currents. And then I made a schoolboy error. We hoisted our code 2 spinnaker near the top of its wind range in a very black squally night, could not see the waves, had a big puff come through and now we no longer have a code 2! I can only say that I was a bit too excited at turning the corner, keen to press on and should have had a cooler head. I was on the helm at the time and have to admit it was so hairy my knees felt weak! With the right (!) sails up we are now trucking. Rob Larke reckoned that our log impellor has been coming out of the water whilst he has been driving and that is why he has not managed to top my speed. Anyway Mike O'Dwyer, our navigator, put the GPS speed up on one of the instruments which showed a reading of 16.8 knots with the log reading 13.2 knots so Larkie is feeling a bit happier with himself. I doubt we will fully dry out down below before reaching home. Everybody is fed up (particularly young Tom) with the damp, but thoroughly enjoying the sailing. It looks like going light as we head south and this may result in a late Friday/early Saturday finish. Well done to Artemis on a stunning performance - the weather those guys went through (and the other Super Zero baots) would have made my hairy moment seem quite normal!

Kingspan - Chieftain: Wet & wild ride down the East coast
After over 5 days of beating into strong and viciously gusting headwinds, Kingspan Chieftain had a memorable sleigh ride down the East coast of the United Kingdom, Kingspan Chieftain revels in these conditions, her canting keel increases righting moment and her light carbon fibre hull means she is like a rocket ship down waves, with boats speeds in excess of 20 knots for much of the time, Kingspan Chieftain was eating up the miles to the finish and with about 90 miles to go looks like Ger O'Rourke's team will be winning the overall prize for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. But the downhill slalom ride has taken its toll and the crew are soaked through and close to exhaustion. The Cookson 50 has just entered the Dover Straits and needs to cross the finish line at Cowes, Isle of Wight by 23:09 tonight, the race is certainly still on but the mood on board is very good and victory is close by, as Jochem Visser navigating on board explains: "We had a rough, tough last 30 hours, with wind speed ranging up to 35 knots, we pushed the boat to the limit with speeds in the 18 to 26 knots range. At those speeds Kingspan Chieftain is like a wild bucking bronco and extremely wet, because of her swing keel and high sailing angles the bow wave drenches the whole boat, it is like a very powerful fire hose! Our downwind ride has been exciting but we have paid the price with two spinnakers in kite heaven, a boat totally soaked in water and a crew staring around with blood shot eyes due to the immense amount of salt water they have to deal with. We can smell victory around the corner, we are nearly there and it feels very good indeed."

Noonmark VI
Well, a much more eventful last day on board Noonmark VI, but with a crew happy to be finally heading downwind towards home at pace. We rounded the most northerly point of the course - Muggle Flucka and the nearby Outstack rock - at around 0100 last night, after an evening sailing up the coast of the Shetlands. After so long out of sight of land, it was quite reassuring to see fields and houses again. During a sail change after rounding we started to lose a jib over the side, which required huge efforts by nearly the whole crew on the foredeck to get back on board. This was in 25 knots of wind with the boat doing around 8 knots, despite attempts to slow it down. I can tell you that the water temperature up there is not that high, even at this time of year! Since then we have been running south under spinnaker with boat speed hovering around 10 knots with regular surfs to 15 knots in the big waves, and the different helms competing to achieve the highest speed. We are currently about level with Aberdeen, which has made me realise quite how large Scotland is and also how far north the Shetlands are on top of that! We were joined this afternoon by at least a dozen dolphins, who swam alongside the front of the boat for several hours, leaping in the waves. They are much larger ones than I have seen before, and have a far more impressive range of acrobatic tricks! We have also seen numerous oil rigs, which loom out of the mist. They are quite an eerie sight, completely different to what you see in the middle of the sea anywhere else really. I'm quite glad that we are only passing through and not stationed permanently on a rig, as it is a pretty lonely existence I am sure.

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