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.
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.