Teléfonica put the hammer down...
At 13:00 BST, Iker Martinez's Teléfonica Azul were in hot pursuit of their prey, Franck Cammas' Groupama. The Spanish Open Volvo 70 has shifted up a gear and is currently surfing down the west of Ireland, quicker than their French rivals, blasting along at up to 20 knots of boat speed. Groupama still lead the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, but the gap has shrunk to 18 miles. The forecast going into tonight is for some big breeze to arrive on the west coast of Ireland. A perfect wind angle for the two speed machines to cut loose and hit top speed. With just over 500 miles to go, the winner of this duel is highly likely to break the race record. Groupama are looking like the favourites.
Jonny Malbon's IMOCA 60, Artemis Ocean Racing finally got into the breeze and they are surfing down the west coast of Ireland at some pace. There will be some high spirits on the British Keelboat Academy's TP52, John Merricks II. The young guns have been averaging over 15 knots for the past two hours, speeding down Atlantic rollers in excess of 20 knots and are now three miles ahead of arch rival Tonnerre de Breskens, Piet Vroon's Ker 46. But the Dutch boat still holds the overall lead under IRC.
During the day, several yachts have rounded Muckle Flugga, inspiring poetry and some interesting photographs! http://sevenstar.rorc.org/newsblogsphotos/competitor-blogs.html
This is most certainly a yacht race, but it is also a challenge. Reaching Muckle Flugga is worthy of celebration. British Soldier, Encore and Alicia should round before sunset tonight and no doubt celebrations will have been planned for the occasion.
Meanwhile back in the North Sea, the beating has continued for Change of Course and Visit Malta Puma. They have been battling strong headwinds all last night and through today. They are making slow progress and have an agonizing 180 miles left to get round Muckle Flugga. Those of you that are about to finish work and enjoy a Bank Holiday Weekend, I suggest you might spare a thought for the crews who will be hard at work, battling to make it to the north of the course.