8 August, 2006 8:55:00 AM BST | Racetime 00:14:55:00
At 2039 hrs on Monday 7th August, just two and a half hours into the race, the Ker 11.3 MoonraKer was forced to retire from the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race due to a complete failure of her steering gear as she rounded the turning point of Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. In a phone call to race control last night after the crew of MoonraKer had successfully limped back to Cowes unassisted, crew member Andrew Mills commented: 'We had roared off to Bembridge from the start line and were undergoing a series of spinnaker gybes when we first realised that something was wrong with the steering gear as we just couldn't bring the boat up into the wind following the gybe. It was only blowing about 15 knots at the time and when we went down below to inspect the steering gear which is attached to the inside of the hull we found that it had come free and we had no option but to retire. At least it happened in the Solent and not 200 miles off Muckle Flugga! We managed to drop the kite and set up the jury rig steering tiller that connects to the top of the stock of the rudder and made it back to Cowes in time for a beer. The crew are disappointed not to take any further part in the race but we would like to send good luck and good speed to everyone else taking part!'
It was always going to be a tough race for the MoonraKer crew who launched the boat just hours before the start of the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race and were frantically trying to sort out teething problems throughout the afternoon before the race. This team of Royal Engineers had done a fantastic job to get on the start line and were well in contention when their troubles started. We wish them well for the future and hope to see them compete in many more RORC races in the future.
Meanwhile at the front of the fleet this morning, Jean-Philippe Chomette's Nacira 60 Solune had edged into the lead by the slenderest of margins from the Open 60 Artemis Ocean Racing skippered by Jonny Malbon as the two yachts made good progress down to Plymouth. Both boats are touching around 12 knots under asymmetric spinnaker as they fly down the South Coast of England enjoying a very tight personal battle for overall line honours, clear ahead of the fleet.
Overnight, some of the crews had the chance to email race control with updates and here is a selection from around the yachts:
Mostly Harmless (Prima 38) - Bob Clitherow
We are off! Good start up at the S Bramble end of the line in 10kts NE. Puma Logic ahead (they looked close to being over!) and Magnum behind. First right call was to go north of Raid Bank for better wind and tide. Only Puma stayed with us. At the end of the Bank, as the boats merged, we were alongside Minnie the Moocher. Clearly Kerr 11.3s go slowly with all that food on board. Next call was to go inside Nomansland Fort. Very few boats did and we gained masses on those that didn't as we could just hold a kite down to Bembridge. We rounded Bembridge Ledge at 19:22pm ahead of Puma, Magnum and comfortably ahead of the other two Prima's. A perfect peel to the runner and a gybe. We are now coming out of the tide into Sandown Bay. The watch system kicked in a while ago and the cabin is gently reverberating to Neal, Chris and Mark's slumbering. Someone is talking about supper. Chicken slices. Hmm, maybe I should have had a bigger lunch! Actually, joking apart, I am really impressed by all the effort that has gone into getting us to the start line. The piles of food that Helen has bagged up into daily rations is testament. I can praise them here now, as they won't read it until we finish. We even have our course drawn out on a map by Neal's daughter. I may have to rely on that at some point.
Magnum 2 (IMX40) - Andrew Pearce
It's now coming up to 10pm. 4 hours into the race. Winds have been low in the 10kn range from the NE and so an 'a' sail leg down the Eastern Solent. Not our usual clean start, we were held up by one of the big Super Zero boats. So we had Puma and Most Harmless just ahead as we got to the Forts. With the turn round the corner to go west we have gybed a good many times and now have Mostly Harmless and Puma behind us. It's all very light at the moment but I've just heard the Coastgurad report for the following 48 hours and more wind is promised! We are presently off Ventnor on starboard tack with the kite up on a reach. We have 8kn of wind and 6kn of boat speed but are still against the tide so have come in close to the headland to cheat the tide. We have just gone into our watch pattern so I'm off watch now until Midnight (the dog watch) and then on till 3am.
Winsome (S&S One-Off) - Harry Heijst
So far all is okay on board and our corrected position taken from the really beautiful webpage/scoreboard at this very moment is giving us confidence that we are doing things alright. We started with a light breeze of 7 knots which increased by 2300 to 16 knots. Right after the forts we set our Sevenstar spinnaker which was sufficiently tested already in Skandia Cowes Week. The sun is shining and we are still sailing under our spinnaker plus our Daisy since an hour or so.
Aquis Granus (Lutra 52) - Robert Rohde
Aquis Granus GER1375, IRC Z: Position Report: Portland Bill passed 0153 UTC Yacht and Crew are still in marvellous condition. The Berlin part of the crew is really enthusiastic. We are enjoying nice downwind sailing at 10 knots. Perfect. Alexander's noodles with fresh ingredients for supper have made the day. Tomorrow we will start with our adventure food. A little bit worrying...We will keep you informed.
Over the coming two weeks 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