Three is the Magic Number
Day Three: AM Update
From the start, Musandam-Oman Sail had 3 days and 3 hours to complete the course for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race to set a new world record.
On Day Three of the race the trimaran's three hulls, sailed by three expats and three Omanis, are continuing to hammer on south. The lightening quick MOD 70 has hit the turbo charger, screaming along at 30 knots off the North West coast of Ireland. Currently Musandam-Oman Sail's expected finish time is approximately 1000 on Thursday morning, three hours inside the world record set by Loick Peyron's 140ft trimaran, Banque Populaire 5, in 2011.
"Records are there to be broken and it would be an honour to be bettered by such a great team," commented Loick Peyron by telephone to the Royal Ocean Racing Club. "Perhaps if they do set a new record it will also be good for the race. It will encourage other multihulls to come and try it - it is a fantastic course."
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam is leading the fighter formation of Volvo Ocean 65s that have now all rounded Out Stack and are heading home. At dawn this morning Azzam was passing Sula Sgeir, a remote island that marks the halfway point in the race and is best known for its population of gannets. However it is unlikely that the Volvo Ocean 65s, blasting along at over 25 knots, will have the chance to do much bird watching. Ian Walker, skipper of Azzam, called the RORC Media Team just after rounding Muckle Flugga at 2000 yesterday.
"The decisive factor in the race so far has been sail selection and timing of sail changes," commented Ian Walker. "Obviously you have got to go the right way, but that all ties in with where you decide to go and what sails you want to be on and then you can concentrate on putting the hammer down.
This has been a really tough race so far, right from the start, but we were all fresh for that and the North Sea was non-stop navigational decisions with oil rigs and sand banks on top of heavy conditions and sail changes. It is all about ragging it on deck, coping with the non-stop spray and pushing the boat as hard as we can. One thing we have seen in this race that we haven't seen in practice is being so close to the Spanish team - relaxing for just five minutes reflects in a loss.
The biggest call so far was as we approached Muckle Flugga, we stayed more to the west than the Spanish team. We spent four or five hours with the big sail on trying to get west so that we didn't get sucked up into the low pressure. We knew that as long as we had good wind speed we were inside the shift and, when we eventually gybed, the distance between us would become our lee. In the end the gybe call was very, very, difficult as the wind was very shifty. We gybed as late as we dared and just managed to just get round the top of the rocks. Navigating around a headland like that, with a 100 degree wind shift, was about as difficult as it gets and our navigator Si Fi (Simon Fisher) nailed it - we made quite a big gain."
Jens Kellinghusen's German Ker 51 Varuna, racing in IRC Zero, is the new overall leader for the 20 strong IRC fleet. After time correction Varuna made the top of the leader board yesterday evening and, on the morning of Day Three, Varuna is estimated to have an eight hour advantage over Andrew Budgen and Fred Schwyn's Volvo 70, Monster Project.
However at 0700 BST, Varuna was still 70 miles from Out Stack with a complex weather scenario in front of them while Monster Project rounded Out Stack at about 0500 into the fresh northerly breeze and will almost certainly gain many miles on Varuna over the next seven hours or so.
Burkhard Keese's Stella Nova has retired with boat damage and they are making their way to Den Helder in Holland, expecting to arrive there before dusk tonight. This leaves Roderick Knowles' Swish as the only Class40 still racing. The British Class40 is expected to round Out Stack in the early evening. The highly experienced crew on board include South African Nick Leggatt, with three circumnavigations including the Class40 Global Ocean Race. He is joined by Ian Munslow with one circumnavigation, two Transats and a Route du Rhum, and Paul Peggs who has over 40 years of offshore racing including two Mini-Transats. So far Swish is on course to shatter the Class40 record set by Concise 2 in 2010.
Jankees Lampe's Open 40, La Promesse, is the runaway class leader and currently enjoying a blast past Aberdeen in the North Sea at over 10 knots. Darren McLaughlin's Hanse 531, Saga, has made good progress overnight and is currently due east of Edinburgh. Saga is skippered by Peter Hopps, who has competed in every RORC Caribbean 600 and 12 Rolex Fastnet Races and the crew of Saga have been training for the race all season. For them, just finishing the Sevenstar Round Britain Race is their 'Everest'.
"So, we started on Monday morning at 9 o'clock when the rest of the world was going back to work... of course we are happy!" commented Peter by satellite connection. "Everyone enjoyed the spectacle of the start and the speed of the VO 65s and the trimaran, which was really impressive. Unfortunately we were taking our spinnaker down when the Volvos came past so we were a bit preoccupied! That sail has remained firmly in its bag since then - we had a good run up the Channel under poled out headsail which was very effective. We've been at sea for a while now and have settled into our watch system. We're all quite happy and heartily glad we are going anti-clockwise. It looks like we'll have to beat the last bit up to the Shetlands, but we're all here for the experience, which should include beating!!"
Ian Hoddle's Figaro II Rare, racing Two-Handed, leads IRC Two on the water. At sunset last night, just off North Yorkshire, Rare, the smallest yacht in the race, gybed offshore to cover Ross Applebey's Scarlet Logic, which had been making big gains. Through the night Rare led the way, just a few miles ahead of their bigger rivals, and this morning at 0700 BST Rare was six miles ahead of Scarlet Logic. However, after time correction, Scarlet Logic is still leading the class.
Liam Coyne's First 36.7 Lula Belle, racing Two-Handed with Brian Flahive, is just west of Sunderland with 1450 miles to go, which means that the Irish pair will have about a week at sea before they finish the course. Rob Hammomd's J/109, Ruag White Knight 7, crewed by the Royal Armoured Corps YC is currently leading IRC Three on corrected time, and are four miles ahead of Keith Gibbs' C&C 115, Change of Course, sailed by David Dyer.