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Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race 18 August 2006 - Morning Press Release

18 August, 2006 10:12:00 AM BST | Racetime 10:16:12:00

A delighted crew onboard Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy's Swan 56, Noonmark VI, crossed the finish line off Cowes last night to complete the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race with a time of 10 days, 5 hours and 31 minutes and finishing fifth on the water. It had been a hard last few miles for the crew as the wind dropped below 10 knots for much of the final 300 miles and along with battling the fierce tidal gates along the South Coast of Britain, it made for a tactically tricky end to the race.

However, spirits were high onboard as crewmember Steve commented: "I have been privileged to sail with some of the most professional and committed guys I have ever come across, their complete focus and determination have given them a just result. As with every long race there have been a number of highs and lows (no pun intended!) one of the lows must be the 800 mile close reach with grey skies, grey seas, and the lack of land sightings. One of the greatest high must be the 20 knot downwind rush just after Muckle Flugga, then leaving our bowman alone for a few minutes at the wheel to find him careering along at 18 Knots hollering 'Yahoo, more more'!"

Meanwhile at the northern tip of the Shetland Isles the crew of Kieran Jamesons Sigma 38, Changeling, were in a celebratory mood and cracked open a bottle of champagne as they rounded the mystical turning point of Muckle Flugga at 0625 hrs this morning. Kieran sent a text this morning describing the experience saying: "What a sail! All upwind and weve already logged 1537 miles beating up to this point and guess what? The wind is now from the south and it looks like a beat down the North Sea, 710 miles back to Cowes! The crew are all in great spirits and the morale is high so Id better go now and join them for a glass of champers!"

Closer to home, the young RYA backed crew of Unlimited Sailing/John Merricks should be the next to finish with just 68 miles to go and if they can keep their speed up throughout today should be on track to finish in the early evening. The winds are expected to fill this afternoon with rain clouds bringing breeze along the South Coast which will also greatly benefit Volker Linzer's Andrews 56, Norddeutsche Vermoegen that is just behind the John Merricks crew with 92 miles left to run.

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 Clubs dedicated micro site accessed via www.rorc.org

Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race 17 August 2006 - Afternoon Web Update

17 August, 2006 3:30:00 PM BST | Racetime 09:21:30:00

Just the small matter of 65 miles is left for the crew of Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy's Swan 56, Noonmark VI to complete the 1800 mile Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race but the light southerly winds are proving tricky to navigate and predict in the English Channel. It's much the same story for the rest of the fleet all filing down the eastern seaboard with many of the boats making only very slow progress at speeds between 3-7 knots. For the most northerly boats the wind has almost completely shut off with the Predator of Wight's Sam Connelly telephoning race control this afternoon saying:

We are sitting in a hole with absolutely no wind at all and all eyes are out of the boat trying to desperately seek the next wind band. Onboard weve got enough provisions for another five days where after it's going to have to be mackerel caught off the back with my fishing rod and feathers!

Onboard the Ker 11.3 Minnie the Moocher the crew have been amazed at the amount of oil rigs theyve seen as they head down the cost with one member reporting that, Last night the oilfields off Aberdeen were a remarkable sight, the oil rigs are spaced so regularly they could be mistaken for a marine highway lighting system! Meanwhile there have been numerous whale, porpoise, turtle and dolphin sightings from across the fleet with many first-timers astounded at the natural beauty that is literally on their doorstep in the British Isles.

The predicted finishing time for Noonmark VI is around 2300 hrs this evening (Thursday) whilst the next boat, Unlimited Sailing/John Merricks, should be back in Cowes sometime late on Friday with the German entry Norddeutsche Vermogen back in shortly behind. For the rest of the crews it's time to try and dry their boats out, catch up on some sleep and prepare for the possibility of another five days at sea.

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:

Unlimited Sailing / John Merricks: Thames today, Cowes tomorrow With less than 200 miles to the finish of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, Farr 45 Unlimited Sailing / John Merricks is fighting hard against the tide in the Thames Estuary and hoping for a Friday finish in Cowes, Isle of Wight. Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme Sailor Johnny Marshall has been one of three designated helmsmen on the trip and revealed what the team have been up to over the last 24 hours. We had a challenging day yesterday with hardly any wind. After covering so much ground on Tuesday crew morale dropped when we suddenly came to a standstill. After feeling like home was getting close we suddenly added a day to our race and there was little we could do about it. The Lymington based 21 year-old continued, Last night was actually quite exciting, not only did the wind begin to build but we also sailed past loads of oil rigs. They were just massive and quite an amazing sight in the dark. Finally we are back on course, tight reaching with about ten knots of breeze and flat water. Were just inside the Thames Estuary battling the tide. Were working our way along the shore, trying to avoid hitting the bottom as we stay out of the tide, which should change in the next couple of hours and help us get down to Dover and around the corner. Tonight will be our last night on the boat which, after spending ten days on her, is a strange sensation. It will be brilliant to get home and finally take stock of what we, as a young team, have accomplished.

Unlimited Sailing / John Merricks is expected to cross the finish line in Cowes, Isle of Wight sometime tomorrow, Friday 18 August.

Talisman - Shetland Shenanigans - Alistair Heggie It would have been disappointing not to have had the opportunity to fully test the waterproofing fixes to the mast boot and the rail. Suffice to say the conditions have not let us down. With the Flannan Isles retreating over the horizon, the wind continued to blow predictably from the north. As night fell we gathered our selves for a night of heavy seas, beating into the forecast force 5-7 and the tricky task of spotting fishing boats in the swell. The night distinguished it's self from the long beat from the Scilly's to the Flannan Isles by the addition of low cloud blanketing all ambient light and driving rain stinging our eyes and faces, stopping us from looking into the waves we couldn't see. Talisman stood up to the test magnificently. Bristling along at 7 knots with the storm jib and 2 reefs in the main, she pitched and rolled as we climbed up the towering waves fronts and dramatically fell down the backs. The on-watch were treated to regular dousings in the cockpit while the off-watch were troubled by the relentless slamming on the hull and reverberation in the rig. By dawn the worst was behind us as we cruised along in a force 5 and set about repairing the crew with bacon butties, caffeine and some well deserved sleep. We were surprised by the amount of shipping in the area, especially fishing boats until a second glance at the chart confirmed we were sailing over Turbot Bank - not the best kept secret fishing location. The weather is not without a sense of humour. We are now sitting tantalisingly 50 miles short of Muckle Flugga (Northern most point of the Shetlands) in very light winds. By the time you read this we will be heading south at long last having quaffed our celebratory glass of bubbly and a welcome change of underwear for the crew. Once again The Dream Machine was given the opportunity to demonstrate it's prowess. Just a reminder of the website for all of you that ever intend on sleeping aboard a yacht again: www.oceansleepwear.co.uk.

Talisman - Upbeat A fantastic day aboard jolly Talisman. Lighter winds have allowed us to focus on boat repairs after an exhilarating night punching into breaking heavy swell generated by a Northerly (what else!) force 5-6. We have pumped the bilges, dried the boat and set about making this sieve waterproof and we spent a happy time with a tube of silicon working around the rail and the mast boot. Down below Captain Curly (skipper) worked wonders breathing life back into the instruments, Navtex and saloon lighting. Chris applied his creative genius to repairing Andrew's glasses allowing him to see beyond the cockpit. Jeremy has generously allowed a couple of to use his fancy waterproof sleeping bag now renamed "The Dream Machine". Feedback has been extremely positive. One crew member reported "it's the best sleeping experience I've ever had on a yacht ever!" This report may have something to do with dreams featuring Kylie. Demand for The Dream Machine has never been higher. We are on our way to the Hebrides. The wind continues to blow from the North. Thoughts of downwind wind sailing are a distant memory. More dolphins came to play today. The sun's report card is looking poor but it made a welcome 30 minute appearance this afternoon. The crew are in a chipper mood now that the boat is sorted and we appear to be making some headway. We are looking forward to a nice bottle of claret, roast beef with all the trimmings but we'll have to settle for tinned Irish stew tonight.

Jaguar Logic - Skipper Pete Summers (aka Pedro) We have finally got back into the land of the living as far as the computer is concerned. We managed to get all the software up and running a couple of days ago but then had continual problems of not being able to send messages or would lose them after the crew had spent hours typing then out. You would have thought though with a couple of computer whizzes on board it would not have taken quite so long. All is going well and we are all very relieved to finally be around Muckle Flugga. Tensions had been running high for the last few days as we never seemed to be getting any closer and every time we thought the wind had freed it would either drop or swing back and head us again meaning yet more beating. The actual rounding was a bit of an anti-climax with thick mist obscuring the rock so all you could see was a very eerie loom of the light, likened to something out of a hammer horror movie. But now we are around and that is all behind us now, helped a little by a small glass of champagne. We are on the true homeward leg. Spirits are high again and the frantic trimming continues. At the moment we are sat in the middle of a depression centred over the Shetlands so the wind is very light and from every direction. We have taken this rare opportunity with the boat being upright to try and catch up on some of the boat husbandry and cleaning which had been reduced to merely sponging out about 5 gallons of water from the bilges at every watch change while at a 30* heal, and sort out that evenings meal before it got too wet. Jon and I are also going to take this opportunity to make some fresh bread to go with our packet soup for lunch! The mistake was made of assuming because we had beat to windward all the way up here it would be a bit of a downhill sleigh ride on the way back and we would have the opportunity to dry some of our kit out. But oh no, it is still thick mist outside and everything is even more damp than before including our bunks which just seem to be getting worse. And guess what we are still going to windward. We did get a token bit if spinnaker flying for about 6 hours this morning after rounding in the mist and about 4 knots of wind. Must dash have meals to cook and bilges to sponge

Norddeutsche Vermoegen Hamburg We are on the tack again... seems to be not sailing around Britain, but tacking round Britain. After rounding Shetlands we had a short period of spinnaker sailing, even quite fast with up to 19.4 knots, then we had a little accident: our spinnaker boom broke as well as the 1.6 spinnaker itself. With no second spi boom we had to change to our last reacher, with top speeds up to 17.2 knots... until the wind left us and we had to fight against calm winds... The starboard watch made a construction so we could use the Gennacker for a while, but as already told we are now on the tack again. We had a lot of time for little reconstructions or cleaning or even for some gourmet-bread-baking sessions.

Jeu dEsprit - Fiona Well we've made it to Muckle Flugga after 7 solid days of beating into the wind (apart from a slight lull around Rhona when there was force 6 forecast to the north, east and west of us and we didn't even have 6 knots of breeze). Muckle Flugga is very pretty, but after several hours of drifting up to it on the tide we managed to get the boat moving with a kite up and then it's turned - you guessed it - south... So it looks like we'll be beating all the way home again. Hey ho. Probably just as well we've got all that food on board otherwise it would be a great diet but not so good for morale. Champagne lunch planned for today in honour of Muckle Flugga - we might eventually have to start getting inventive with pasta or rice and the spice cupboard but for now we're enjoying the proper food while it lasts and praying for anything other than southerly winds... Crew now considerably more smelly - all that banging and crashing into the wind has started taking some toll on the boat but we've come off very lightly compared to many. We're also blessed with a surfeit of engineers and fixit types on board, so things like water getting into the generator filter, 3 cracked spokes on the wheel or the forepeak bilge pump stopping are just taken as a challenge to sort out. The really worrying one for most of us was the gas leak that meant we finished our first of 2 gas bottles after only 5 days - this is where some sort of rehydrateable pretend food that could be edible with hot water from the tap might have been a good idea... However, we're now being very careful because we don't know how long we need the 2nd bottle of gas to last so it's the electric kettle for hot drinks and muesli every other day for breakfast - but only milk is currently rationed (due to the unexpected extra muesli consumption!) We're stuck with what's left of the biscuits and Green & Black's chocolate so when those are gone they're gone, but the Thai green curry is back for dinner by popular demand and it's calm enough to have showers without risking acquiring any more bruises than we already have, my back is better AND we're now homeward-bound, so things could be a lot worse. We've not heard much from any other race boats recently but it was nice to hear coastguards with scottish accents after so long of the irish lot, lovely as they were. Better go - we've got bockwurst and potato salad for lunch and we need to wake the other watch... Fiona on Jeu d'Esprit at 60 degrees 56.2 North and 0 degrees 45.15 West at 12:45

Minnie the Moocher After 16 hours with the spinnaker, we were back to reaching and now we are on the wind again. Maybe this is not a memorable windward/leeward race, more of a windward race. As with the other boats ahead of us we are struggling with light breezes. It has allowed us to get all the gear on deck and dry it out so we should have pleasant living conditions in the short term. We had a pod of pilot whales about 50 metres from the boat this morning. Truly stunning. Now I know why people take whale watching holidays. Last night the oilfields off Aberdeen were also a remarkable sight, the oil rigs are spaced so regularly they could be mistaken for a marine highway lighting system. Our best foot is forward at the moment but Noonmark is going surprisingly well for a heavy boat in very light airs. We have a real job on our hands whittling down their lead.

Talisman Sea Shanty - Jeremy Rockett (somewhere off the Hebrides)

This is the crew of the Talisman
Seven brave souls, to a man
Of shapes and sizes, we have a range
But personalities, much more strange

First the Ancient Mariner, a sleepy knave
Sleeping all day in Gollom's cave
Of his sleeping you may scoff
But when he's awake, we can't turn him off

Then there's Al, all ginger and white
Rushing in where others take fright
"What's the worst" we hear him say
"That can happen to ginger Al today?"

Next there's Andrew, a tough little Scouse
He's just lost everything, even his house
But he's hardy and we know he'll thrive
With his anthem - "I will survive"

Then the Wippet, all sinews and lean
Less meat on a man is rarely seen
Quoting Shakespeare and cosines and other such tosh
Better eat up quick or he'll finish your nosh

Next there's Buttie, a domestic sort
Washing and scrubbing, both starboard and port
Shaving and polishing and squeaky clean
Unlike the rest of us - we know where he's been

Then there's the skipper, a seaman quite sound
We have every trust he'll get us around
Even though we regularly say
"Skipper, what you gonna break today?"

About the narrator, a wordy lad
And as a poet, not too bad
Sleeping cosy in his waterproof bag
No wonder he gets the "Mr kit" tag

So there we have the Talisman seven
Having beaten thro' hell, looking for downwind heaven
Our determination to get round is clear
We'll see you in the Anchor for a well-deserved beer

Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race 17 August 2006 - Morning Press Release

17 August, 2006 9:32:00 AM BST | Racetime 09:15:32:00

With the finish line of the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race tantalisingly close at just 115 miles for Sir Geoffrey Mulcahys Noonmark VI, the rest of the fleet are struggling against light southerly headwinds as they make their way down the east coast of Britain. Conditions are expected to remain light for the next two days as a slow moving low pressure system works its way across the racecourse making the final stretch agonising for some. Noonmark VI reported that they had just passed Dover at 0900 hrs this morning (Thursday) and were, touch and go as to whether well make last orders in Cowes tonight!

A text message received this morning, however, from the Murray 41, Predator of Wight, who have just rounded Muckle Flugga on the way back to Cowes, reported some tough conditions onboard in the past week saying: The mainsail keeps splitting and we had to sail downwind under bare poles at 6 knots for one hour to sew back the leech. Then the head ripped off 24 hours later and broke 60% of the slugs! Weve replaced them with various shackles from around the boat and we had to sail under trysail to achieve this. Weve also been bailing 6-8 buckets of water every shift change since the Scilly Isles and now 50% of the berths are saturated and the boat seems to be held together with Sicoflex and duct tape! Down below is also covered in diesel from a leak and a suncream bottle exploded in the cockpit so moving around Predator is like Bambi on Ice!! The heads pipe is completely jammed and the rudder tried to fall out of the bottom of the boat. The crews quote for this trip is living the dream  and somehow were all still a happy crew!

Overnight the young crew of Unlimited Sailing/John Merricks have managed to extend their lead over Volker Linzers Norddeutsche Vermogen to 49 miles as the lighter winds have favoured the lighter Farr 45 on the water. Simon Harwoods Talisman finally rounded Muckle Flugga during the night leaving just the Sigma 38 of Kieran Jameson, Changeling, to get around the headland. Changeling is currently a little over 70 miles from the turning point and should reach it by tomorrow morning.

The crew of Clem Jones J/160, Jeu DEsprit, meanwhile are having a super race with crewmember Fiona reporting: Weve got a Champagne lunch planned for today in honour of Muckle Flugga - we might eventually have to start getting inventive with pasta or rice and the spice cupboard but for now we're enjoying the proper food while it lasts and praying for anything other than southerly winds...! We're stuck with what's left of the biscuits and Green & Black's chocolate so when those are gone they're gone, but the Thai green curry is back for dinner by popular demand and it's calm enough to have showers without risking acquiring any more bruises than we already have, my back is better AND we're now homeward-bound, so things could be a lot worse.

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 half-hourly and can be followed on the Royal Ocean Racing Clubs dedicated micro site accessed via www.rorc.org

Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race - 16 August 2006 - Afternoon Web Update

16 August, 2006 3:35:00 PM BST | Racetime 08:21:35:00

So with the winning boats already moored up back in Cowes, the race goes on for the 15 remaining yachts in the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race with some fascinating, if somewhat frustrating, tussles emerging in the fleet. Leading just off the Norfolk coastline is Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy's Swan 56, Noonmark VI who is battling light headwinds with just 240 miles left to run but is clear ahead of the chasing duo, Unlimited Sailing/John Merricks of Nigel King and Norddeutsche Vermogen of Volker Linzer who are almost neck and neck. The next 24 hours will be fascinating for these two as they try to make the best of the southerly Force 1-2 breezes that have flopped over the racecourse.

One of the more remarkable stories of the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland race has been the young, RYA backed crew of the Farr 45 Unlimited Sailing/John Merricks who have laid down a serious marker of intent for future offshore RORC races. The average age onboard is just 23 and for certain they are doing the memory proud of the late, great John Merricks who won a silver medal with Ian Walker in the 470 at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

For these young men and women it's their chance to prove themselves on the big stage and they continue to impress. Today's report from 19 year old Jeremy Fowke, despite suffering in the frustrating light winds, shows the spirit onboard the yacht and one can't help but be enthused by their passion: "The wind was up and down all night, finally dying off this morning and shifting south, south east. We're slowly moving east at about two knots hoping to be the first to catch the wind as it fills back in. We're still trying to keep the boat moving, although it is a challenge as she seems to want to park up and rest. The crew have been amusing themselves with a biscuit eating contest and if the breeze doesn't kick in, there are plans for a fashion show later today to model the latest Henri Lloyd offshore kit. We're all keeping our fingers crossed that the conditions change, we don't lose too many places and we can head for the finish line."

Mostly Harmless
It's a similar story down the fleet with a big pack of boats just past the rounding point of Muckle Flugga on the Shetland Isles. Mostly Harmless, Puma Logic and needasponspor.co.uk are leading a trailing group of Jaguar Logic, Sidney and Jeu d'Esprit who are all on or past the seemingly mystical Muckle Flugga whilst Predator of Wight and Talisman are still making their way northwards. Save a thought too for Kieran Jameson's gutsy crew on the Sigma 38, Changeling, who are currently in last place on the water with over 800 miles left to run. Speaking to the crew, however, you would never believe that they were last and seem to be having the time of their lives!

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 http://www.rorc.org

Quotes from the boats-

Claire Kennard from Global Yacht Racing reports on the Incisor Crew's Jubilation at starting the downwind stretch.

The crew are all in great spirits despite enduring continuous wet conditions onboard Incisor. The crew have nicknamed their yacht "the Submarine" because her long flat decks and sleek lines and stripped out interiors have meant a very wet week on their upwind slog. "Its been blowing dogs off chains out here at some points but the guys are all doing a fantastic job despite being exhausted and continually wet. We've had minor dramas needing sail repairs, but the main problem has been a total failure of all our electronic navigation tools - I think I am cursed with technology as none of this fancy kit ever seems to work for me," joked skipper Andy. Luckily Andy and fellow Navi-guesser Eric Holden have plenty of experience in meteorology and navigating between them and have been using a tea-towel with a map of the British Isles printed on it. (Only kidding!)

The crew were singing Musical hits from My Fair Lady lead by Bob (a legend in his own lunchtime - every boat should have a Bob) when I spoke to them as they rounded Muckle Flugga and they were drying their kit on deck. They are currently hoping to use the strong northerly wind they are still experiencing to push themselves as hard as possible whilst they still can and make some gains on the yachts in front of them who are now experiencing variable and easing winds backing into the South. Their Wayfarer meals have been a godsend as their water-maker has been typically temperamental and the pre-prepared rations do not need water to re-hydrate them since they are already fully cooked and vacuum packed. They can be eaten cold if necessary and definitely taste better than the freeze dried stuff.

Magnum Race Report - Tuesday 15th August
Well we finally made it to the most Northerly point of the race - Muckle Flugga. We passed the lighthouse about 0845 this morning. The final 50 mile approach was in 12-18 knot winds, finally, just off the beam which gave us a fast approach. It was very overcast and with occasional rain. When dawn came about 4 am we were sailing up the west coast of the island chain but could not see them. They were shrouded in cloud. In fact the cloud seemed to touch the sea and so we only had a glimpse of the lighthouse and the rocky cliffs. But no time to admire the view, the seas were big and rolling here and we were hoisting the kite so it was all hands on deck during manoeuvres. It can be said with great relief that we ARE ON OUR WAY SOUTH. A long way to go though 600 odd miles but the weather for today and tomorrow looks to be holding good with reasonable winds but after that things look a little light. We'll see.

Artemis is home and finished so the clock is ticking. This is where the differential in handicaps places all boats on the hypothetical same level playing field. We are out here to try and win class and to score highly in the overall rankings for this prestigious race. So the pressure remains firmly on. Our main competitors in class are 75/80 miles astern. So a good cushion but can easily be lost with the wrong tactics over the next few days. After some success in drying out the boat 24 hours ago, it is now worse than ever after all the rain and seas we kept taking over the bows last night. So priority number one is to dry ourselves out as soon as the weather bucks up and the sun comes out. I hear it's not a lot different for you all down south.

Kingspan - Chieftain: Tom Whitburn
An elated but exhausted crew on Kingspan Chieftain went through the finish line at Cowes just after 8 pm on Tuesday night, whilst the race is still on, it is an improbable probability that any of the rest of the fleet can beat Kingspan Chieftain's corrected time for the gruelling 1780 mile Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland title. "The boat is just fantastic to sail. I have never experienced anything like it, on the run down the east coast, we had an amazing amount of sail area up for the conditions but the Cookson 50 was so stable and every time we buried the bow into a wave she popped right back up. It was just the most awesome sailing but I must admit that the stony silence on deck had an element of fear factor in it." explained British crewman Tom Whitburn. "Kingspan Chieftain is a superb boat for offshore racing but a lot of credit must go to the hard work of the crew, they are all good lads, cracking guys, myself I am the oldest man on the boat but besides Jochem Visser, the navigator, all theses lads are in there twenties and I am really happy for them as much as myself that they have done so well, I would have to give special thanks to Mark Tighe, the boat captain, he has done a great job in preparation as well a sailing her."

Unlimited Sailing / John Merricks: Light winds bring Farr 45 to a halt
After a day of intense sailing at about 20 knots, Farr 45 Unlimited Sailing / John Merricks has come to a standstill in the North Sea, 340 miles from the finish. Following eight days of strong winds the breeze has now died off leaving the young crew, all members of the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme, frustrated. "This is a massive change from the conditions we have experience since this race began. Twenty four hours ago we were screaming along having a brilliant sail and now we're sitting on deck just trying to get the boat to move forward." Jeremy Fowke from Weymouth revealed. The 19 year-old continued, "The wind was up and down all night, finally dying off this morning and shifting south, south east. We're slowly moving east at about two knots hoping to be the first to catch the wind as it fills back in. We're still trying to keep the boat moving, although it is a challenge as she seems to want to park up and rest. The crew have been amusing themselves with a biscuit eating contest and if the breeze doesn't kick in, there are plans for a fashion show later today to model the latest Henri Lloyd offshore kit. We're all keeping our fingers crossed that the conditions change, we don't lose too many places and we can head for the finish line."

News from the Sailing Logic Boats -Allie Smith
Well, apologies for the lack of stories coming from the yachts. To be honest they were just so hacked off at the lack of wind and then the little there was, they were having to beat into it, that there was nothing of great interest coming off the yachts apart from grumpy, tired, wet and cold sailors!

Puma called in late last night to say that they had gone around Muckle Flugga to a huge cheer from everyone onboard but slightly disappointed that they were unable to see the infamous mark of the course due to severe lack of visibility. As it was during daylight hours, they weren't even treated to the loom of the lighthouse. Jaguar has called this morning to day that they have rounded it in a similar state - low mist, drizzle and not a rock in sight.

Puma have had more calamities on board - one third of Puma's food on board is de-hydrated rations, and unfortunately with all the bouncing about beating towards the top, the de-hydrated has become hydrated and therefore has gone to feed the fish and sacrificed to the wind gods, instead of the crew. The food was double bagged and stowed safely but that dreaded bilge water manages to get everywhere. They should have enough food onboard to compensate however, as the first few days very little was eaten due to seasickness etc but at least with less food the loo roll rations may last a little longer! There is talk of a loo roll thief onboard, that instead of taking their own personal stash to the heads when needed, pinches other crew members instead"..more on this later.

Both Jaguar and Puma have put up their spinnakers at last and rested the genoas, which are now being looked at for any sign of damage and wear and tear, ready for the next sail change. Jaguar have reported a winch handle overboard ... apparently a crew member got so excited that the kite was up and inadvertently knocked it off the winch whilst getting ready to trim - more sacrifices to the wind gods.

All the families are following the race with avid interest. Mark Taylor on Puma Logic got a message from home yesterday. It said: "Dear Mark, Please can you arrive back by the 23rd as Auntie Margaret and Uncle Dennis are coming to stay. Auntie Sheila is very worried about the lack of loo rolls, hope you are ok. Love from Mum and Auntie Sheila".

Richard Donkin - Onboard Puma Logic
Muckle Flugga at the northernmost tip of the British Isles is one of those places you learn about in school then push to the back of your mind for the occasional recollection in a pub quiz. For the past few days among the crew of Puma Logic it has been the very centre of our universe. It's the turning point, the corner, the pinnacle of our northerly beat through almost unrelenting winds at a time of year we ought to be sunbathing. Instead most of our sun cream is still packed away in the darkest reaches of the hold where sloshing bilge water penetrates all but the most tightly sealed container. In all the buffeting we have taken, sea water has penetrated the food bags, destroying some of our meals and forcing a stock take this afternoon. We have enough but the menu will need adjusting. The watches have been adjusted too, playing to strengths and weaknesses. Just now, with two crew nursing injuries - although nothing broken - we are talking about more of the latter. In the circumstances morale remains remarkably high. But the way to get through these endurance events is to take your sleep when you can, eat when you can and always save one hand for the boat. Just now, chasing second place in our class, we are pushing the boat hard. Philippe Falle, our skipper, is quite the Captain Bligh at times, demanding ever faster sail changes and boat speeds. We trim the sails constantly through the night. Downtime? There is no downtime. It's like that old song, "three wheels on my wagon, and I'm still rollin' along - except the Cherokees are in front and behind. How long this can be sustained is anybody's guess. The yacht itself has held together well since our steering breakage a week ago, achieving impressive speeds But can the crew hold together? People are not machines, even when asked to work like one. We are still feeling the loss of our first mate, Sara Stanton, to salmonella " the good news is that she is out of hospital and recovering at home. I wish I was recovering at home too and would gladly swap beds. In the same way I know she would rather be here. Isn't life cruel? The one who would rather be sailing, and whose skills we miss so much, cannot be with us. While the one who would rather be fishing - that's me - whose skills would hardly be missed at all, is feeling really quite well. I'm cast as the fly in the ointment on this boat, Philippe's very own Fletcher Christian. All the pumped-up motivational stuff leaves me cold and probably makes some believe I couldn't care less how we finish this race. But I do care. Before we started we spent time working on a list of team values " a set of principles that would govern our behaviour on the boat. Among them are words such as "respect for the sea", "positivity", "sensitivity" and "enjoyment". There's also "harmony". At times I will admit that I have struggled to embrace every one of these values and I doubt if I'm alone in that. But I think that all of us keep the first one at heart. As far as we finish safely and as friends, I'll be happy. Wherever you may be reading these lines it might be tempting to believe they have been knocked off in a few idle moments. In fact, between sentences I'm passing up buckets of dirty bilge water on deck. My bunk is occupied by an injured crew mate and it is time to make lunch. A word here about bunks and lunch: we "hot bunk" on board, taking whatever is available; but most of us seem to have our favourite spot. Mine is a kind of "nest" on the high side using a spare mattress shaped against the sail cloth. Get the nest right and sleep is assured. Lunch today is fresh-baked bread and soup. There is the Immaculate Conception and there is fresh-baked bed in 20 knots of wind. We have made the bread so that, at least, is something in which we can believe. So on to Muckle Flugga it has another, unrepeatable nickname her on board Puma. Just above on the chart, in big purple letters, it says: Area To Be Avoided. Can't anyone read?

Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race - 16 August 2006 - Morning Press Release

16 August, 2006 10:32:00 AM BST | Racetime 08:16:32:00

At a little past 2000 hrs last night, Ger O'Rourke brought his beautiful Cookson 50, Kingspan - Chieftain, ghosting across the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line in Cowes to cap an utterly dominant performance in the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race and claim the overall prize for IRC Division A. In winning this coastal classic, one of the flagship RORC races of the season, O'Rourke adds to his impressive list of victories around the world that started with a class win in the 2005 Rolex Sydney - Hobart Race, a corrected time victory in the 2006 BMW Round Ireland Race and an outright win in this year's Fortis IRC Nationals.

However dockside it was British crew-member of Kingspan - Chieftain, Tom Whitburn that was full of praise for the boat and his fellow crew members, saying: "The boat is just fantastic to sail. I have never experienced anything like it, on the run down the east coast, we had an amazing amount of sail area up for the conditions but the Cookson 50 was so stable and every time we buried the bow into a wave she popped right back up. It was just the most awesome sailing but I must admit that the stony silence on deck had an element of fear factor in it. Kingspan - Chieftain is a superb boat for offshore racing but a lot of credit must go to the hard work of the crew, they are all good lads, cracking guys, myself I am the oldest man on the boat but besides Jochem Visser, the navigator, all theses lads are in there twenties and I am really happy for them as much as myself that they have done so well, I would have to give special thanks to Mark Tighe, the boat captain, he has done a great job in preparation as well a sailing her."

Formidable 3
Whilst the champagne corks were popping on the dockside in Cowes for Kingspan - Chieftain, Piet Vroon's Lutra 56, Formidable 3, joined in the celebrations as they finished just behind to claim second place overall on corrected time, relegating J-P Chomette's Nacira 60, Solune, to third on the podium. One thing for sure is that the 2006 Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race was certainly a big boat beneficiary as the larger yachts made the best of a perfect windward/leeward course and capitalised on some very fast downwind sailing along the east coast of the British Isles.

For the rest of the fleet it's almost agony to read the latest wind reports from Mike Broughton of winningwind.com who is predicting light southerlies for the next two days meaning the slower boats will have to endure a final beat to the finish. "There's a low pressure system in the western approaches that has 25-30 knots of breeze on its western tip but virtually nothing on its eastern side and this is the system that will dominate the next couple of days producing very light southerly breezes for the North Sea from Aberdeen to the Thames Estuary. Unfortunately that means a light beat for the remaining yachts in contrast to the fast sleigh ride that the faster boats enjoyed. Apologies!"

On a lighter note, all the crew of the Bavaria Match 42, Sidney, of Nigel Tuttle wished their crew member John Priddle a very "Happy Birthday" as they passed the waypoint of Muckle Flugga at bang on the stroke of midnight last night in foggy conditions with the wind doing circles - John won't be forgetting that birthday in a hurry. All the best from everyone at the RORC!

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

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