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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."

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

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 -

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.

Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race - 15 August 2006 - Morning Press Release

15 August, 2006 10:51:00 AM BST | Racetime 07:16:51:00

After 7 days 4 hours and 29 minutes 40 seconds, Jonny Malbon brought Artemis Ocean Racing across the finish line off Cowes to claim line honours in the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race. As the bulk of the fleet are still beating up to the Shetland Isles turning point of Muckle Flugga, Artemis Ocean Racing proved just what a potent machine this Open 60 (ex-Pindar) is when given the right conditions as she streaked down the east coast of Britain with strong trailing northerlies that ensured a fast ride.

Hitting speeds in excess of 25 knots and plainly enjoying the surfing conditions, Artemis Ocean Racing was an unstoppable force in this race and, after taking control at the front of the fleet in the English Channel early on day one of the race, was never again headed. Speaking after the finish late last night (2229hrs) off the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, an elated Malbon commented: "We were really pleased with our performance upwind as this is not our strongest point of sail. We made big gains all the way up to Scotland and then turned the corner for some superb downwind sailing with all the big gear up. It was great to stretch our legs in conditions which really suit Artemis and to consolidate the win is a fantastic start to the campaign for us and for our sponsor."

Originally, ocean racer Brian Thompson had been designated as skipper-elect for the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race but a family tragedy forced Thompson to stay at home with his family. Speaking about the performance of Artemis Ocean Racing in his absence Thompson was clearly impressed with his stand-in skipper and crew saying: "It has been very enjoyable to follow the race on the website. The boys did a great job. They were always in control of the race and I am impressed with the way they sailed the boat - it shows the depth of talent in our team."

Meanwhile it's looking like an afternoon finish today (Tuesday) for the second and third placed yachts - J-P Chomette's Nacira 60 Solune and Ger O'Rourke's Cookson 50 Kingspan-Chieftain. Onboard O'Rourke's boat, navigator Jochem Visser dramatically brought the last day to life saying in an emotional email: "We had a rough, tough last 30 hours, with wind speed ranging up to 35 knots and 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."

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

Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race - 14 August 2006 - Afternoon Web Report

14 August, 2006 5:45:00 PM BST | Racetime 06:23:45:00

Artemis Ocean Racing's blistering form continues as she enters the final straight of the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race with just 65 miles left to run. The estimated finishing time is anywhere between 1930 and 2100 hrs on Monday for Artemis Ocean Racing as she experiences slightly lighter westerly head winds on her final approach to Cowes as navigator Will Oxley explained in an email this morning: "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."

Meanwhile further back in the fleet, Simon Henning's Farr 45, Alice 2, has been forced to retire due to problems with her rigging that would require outside assistance. Alice 2 is currently heading for Belfast to effect repairs and the RORC wishes them well.

Overnight some of the other crews experienced gear damage as the wind rose to a vicious 35 knots at times with the Puma Logic skipper, Philippe Falle reporting a problem with their forestay. "Due to the incessant wind on the nose, the forestay luff groove has been taking some battering which resulted in Puma Logic not able to change sails at one point yesterday. We had to sail bareheaded for about an hour whilst the crew removed the groove, sawed off a section and then re-drilled the bottom fitting and then replaced it, all on the bow of a yacht digging its nose in and bucking like a bronco!" Further problems were experienced on the Farr 45, Unlimited Sailing/John Merricks with skipper Nigel King saying: "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.

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 -

Artemis Ocean Racing - Navigator Will Oxley
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 nne of north foreland as at 0835. Cheers. Will.

Solune - Chris Tibbs (AM)
Solune passed the latitude of Flanborough Head at approximately 0900. All is well on board after a wild ride through the night.

Solune is abeam of Yarmouth at 1525. Windy and wet, 35 to 40 knots. 200 miles to go. Apologies for not typing much as it is not easy! Regards Chris.

Minnie the Moocher - Anthony Richards Monday
Ho, ho, ho. Christmas has come early for the Class Super Zero boats. It's all change on the weather front which means that one of these boats will take the overall title and it becomes a Class race for the rest of us. We are in countdown mode, off the southern end of the Shetlands with the islands in sight. No more dawns on starboard, two watches, five points (islands or bluffs) and then YEEHAA we are coming home! Just before dawn this morning our lower middle batten stated emerging from the end of its pocket in the middle of the mainsail. A trivial problem compared to our earlier issue with the main, with first daylight we dropped the main for 30 minutes and put in a little repair. Our imperative is to reach the top mark in good shape. Five and a half days upwind is brutal on body and boat. I was chatting to Jock Wishart during Cowes Week and his experienced words matched my inexperienced imagination. Keep the crew rested, have good gear (we really like our Henri Lloyds) and keep the boat in one piece. I don't want to pronounce upon our success at the moment but there is not much longer to go.

Sailing Logic - Director Allie Smith (reporting on her two boats in the race)
A little bit more news on Puma Logic today. Skipper Philippe Falle called late last night to let us know that they have been experiencing problems with the Tuff Luff on the Forestay. Due to the incessant wind on the nose, the forestay luff groove has been taking some battering which resulted in the yacht not able to change sails at one point yesterday. They had to sail bareheaded for about an hour whilst they removed the groove, sawed off a section and then re-drilled the bottom fitting and then replaced it, all on the bow of a yacht digging its nose in and bucking like a bronco! All's well now, and eagerly waiting rounding Muckle Flugga. Well what a weekend. Puma and Jaguar continue to battle it out between themselves and there is still only 9 miles between them this morning at 0800 hrs (BST). The war of attrition continues as yet another yacht (Alice 2) retires making just 19 out of the original 28 still standing. The wind has been continuously on the nose for the last 5 days now and I know that both teams are hoping for a better wind direction soon so that they can get the spinnakers up and get some good downwind sailing in. With the spinnakers up, the speed of the yachts will increase and also their estimated time of arrival back here in the Solent. Morale seems to be very high on both yachts with lots of laughter, banter and joviality. Jaguar called in late last night to say that 1 watch had managed to shower on deck when the rains came, but the other watch were asleep so half the yacht smells good and the other half"..well, I'll leave that to your imagination. There is no running water on either yacht. We have fitted a Spectra water maker on both yachts as there was just not enough room to carry all the water necessary for this race from the start. The water makers are working well but only when the yacht is on starboard tack, so making water is a little bit of a lottery. The normal consumption onboard (or allowance) of water per person per day is between 3 and 4 litres. This is for everything; washing, drinking, cooking, hot drinks etc. The yachts each have 2 fitted flexible water tanks as well as numerous jerry cans, one which is permanently sealed as emergency water to be used if any of the onboard water should get contaminated or the water-maker stop working. The menu over the weekend included Chilli con Carne on Saturday evening, Beef in Beer with mash last night and tonight it is Savoury Mince, another dehydrated delicacy! When choosing the menu, we looked at various types of meals available, and always had to think of weight, space, cost and most importantly, taste! The dehydrated meals that have been supplied are the same which are used on Round the World yacht races. Philippe and I swore we would never again eat this type of food but needs must, and nowadays they are very good, and also so long as you add some herbs and spices as well as re-hydrating the meat mixes very well, are actually not too bad. Both yachts are baking brad and also baking scones and flapjacks to enhance their menu. The 12 volt fridges onboard can be converted to warming boxes for proving the bread before they put the bread dough in the oven. There is nothing better on board a yacht than the smell of fresh baked bread. Again, taking enough long-life bread for 9 people for 15 days onboard a yacht was impossible due to space so bread mix is a great way of making sure that the diet stays interesting and also varied. In the overall standings in the race, Magnum has increased her lead again to 70 miles ahead of Puma and the second placed yacht in class, Mostly Harmless is 14 miles ahead. Sidney continues to watch the transom of Jaguar and this morning is only 5.5 miles behind, so it is all very close in the middle of the pack. Mostly Harmless has taken another hike to the north-west overnight, sailing away from the rhumb-line in order to get a better sailing angle and hopefully quicker boat speeds.

Unlimited Sailing / John Merricks: Major repair, mainsail down, and a man up the mast In the early hours of day seven, Farr 45 Unlimited Sailing / John Merricks was forced to delay her progress when her mainsail fell from the top of the mast, needing serious repairs. The crew, all associated with the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme sprang into action to get the boat back up to speed as quickly as possible. Volvo Ocean Race Skipper, Nigel King is on board as a mentor to the young sailors and reported back on the tense few hours that had all hands on deck. "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. "The crew worked really hard to get the boat back up and running and I have been impressed with the amount of team work they have displayed. They have put a huge amount of effort into being successful in this race. "We're now about 20 miles from Muckle Flugga, our northern most point, doing about eight and a half knots in 20-22 knots of wind. One at Muckle Flugga we'll finally get to turn south and start the trek down the east coast of Britain and back to Cowes." Unlimited Sailing / John Merricks are currently in eighth place overall in the 28 boat fleet. Unlimited Sailing / John Merricks is being crewed by members of the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme with an average age of just 23 on board. The boat and the Round Britain and Ireland Campaign are supported by Unlimited Sailing, the Peter Harrison Foundation and the John Merricks Trust.

Noonmark VI
We had a seagull following the boat for a long while yesterday. We would fly up behind the boat, come in really close to the helmsman, stay for a few seconds before circling off and returning a few minutes later. This happened about 10 times, and the bird seemed to get closer and closer, despite our attempts to shoo it away. If it was looking for food, we were not planning on providing any, not wanting to risk being followed by a flock of birds and the possibility of them depositing things all over the boat! Presumably, most of boats up here are fishing boats, which will provide birds with relatively easy pickings. I don't think anyone on board would want to swap with the crews of any fishing boats out here, however. We are here in summer in relatively light conditions and it has not been the most comfortable few days as we have bashed along, mainly on port tack. To have to do that day after day, throughout the year and whatever the weather, seems like pretty hard work to me. At least those of us on board who are lucky enough to be involved with sailing pretty full time get to (mainly) follow the summer months and (usually) get to travel to some nice places. We are now over half way through the race, and approaching the most northerly point off Muckle Flugga in the Shetlands. We are currently further north than Cape Horn is south, so the guys are keeping an eye out for icebergs and drowning polar bears! It is also looking like the trip back down south should be quite a bit quicker, with strong northerly winds forecast. However, we still have over 700 miles to go, so there is still plenty of sailing to do yet. Nonetheless, it is easy to start thinking about other things, so yesterday we had a bit of a crew meeting during a watch change to try to ensure we keep sailing the boat hard to maintain our strong showing to date.

Magnum 2 - Andrew Pearce
It's cold up here! In Cowes last Monday the crew all laughed at the overkill new Volvo Round the World sleeping bag Hilary gave me. Well I'm warm and snug in my bunk. Hmmm - I've not said much in my reports about the VIEWS of the coast we have passed during this epic voyage so far. It goes without saying that from the stunning Devon country side we passed at Start Point in warm brilliant sunshine we have not since had a similar experience. The weather is over cast so that the stunning mountains and hills of Ireland were passed, commented on but we did not see them in all their splendour and so far The Outer Hebrides are just shadowy hills and rocks. Such a shame as this is such an inspiring region. The Flannan Islands, at the Northern end of Lewis and our next turning mark came into view at the start of the 1000 - 1400 watch and we are just about to tack to pass on our next long leg out to the Shetland Islands about 250 miles. We've been out of mobile contact range for 2 days now and so made use of the Sat Phone this morning to down load latest weather grib files to lay over the charts on screen. Also nice to have it confirmed that we are still well ahead of our main competition in Class and we are still 3rd overall. The next leg will be crucial for us as the biggest and fastest boats are already round The Shetlands and now on the long journey south. The winds in the last 2 days have favoured the boats to the east and north, in other words all the bigger boats, so am pleased with our continued 3rd overall. Had hoped we might see whales at some stage. Nothing yet - a reasonable number of dolphins though and a sun fish so far. At long last the winds have come down to 10 - 15kn range and so the sea is a lot flatter and we are now able to move around the boat with ease once more and its no longer the fight we have had to live with for the last 5 days. A bit more house keeping going on. The boat needs it. In my quest to keep weight off the boat as it is such a killer to speed, I had instructed all crew that standing instructions were that no shaving would be done for the duration and that we do not duplicate things like tooth paste etc.So, during one of the more boisterous moments yesterday the boat toothpaste took off and landed top down in the heads! Whoops. Fortunately some of my instructions had been ignored. Trying to keep clothes dry has been a real problem. We have resorted to draping important items over the engine during the 2.5 hour battery charging routine each day. Highly dangerous but we keep a close watch so that they do not cook. I've calculated that we have completed 910 miles, a little over half way and an average of 151 miles per day at an average of just over 6 knots. This is the direct point to point mileage and so our actual mileage and true average speed will be higher. See if my brain can cope with this after all the sleep deprivation etc.

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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