Every Finisher’s A Winner
DAY 13 AM UPDATE
Three yachts finished the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race on Friday 23rd August, deciding the winners of both IRC One and IRC Two and there were celebrations on the dock for Relentless on Jellyfish, winner of IRC Two and Saga, winner of IRC One.
British Soldier may have lost the battle with Relentless on Jellyfish, but the British Army Sailing Team was far richer for the experience.
J/122, Relentless on Jellyfish, skippered by James George and owned by Chris Radford, crossed the finish line of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race at 14:52:57 on 22 August to win IRC Two. Relentless on Jellyfish has been competing in the RORC Season's Points Championship since May and their result in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race has lifted them to top yacht in IRC Two and third overall for the season. The crew let out a big cheer as they heard the news dockside.
The Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race has been a memorable one for the tough conditions during the race, but also for a match race between Relentless on Jellyfish and British Soldier.
"The last night was just awesome," James George explained dockside. "Through some clever navigation by Tom Gadsen and David Lowe after Blackrock, we not only overtook British Soldier, but got seven miles in front of them. However British Soldier were after us all the way up the south west coast. It got up to about 25 knots of wind as the last night approached and we took down our spinnaker to have dinner, but British Soldier kept their spinnaker up and so did we. They put their biggest spinnaker up and started pulling into us, so up went our biggest spinnaker! It just went on and on, all through the night, pretty much a full-on match race after 11 days at sea. British Soldier was a worthy opponent; they shortened the gap to just a few miles by St. Catherine's Point where the tide was turning. We made it into the Solent just in time, while they had to punch the tide. I have got to say that was one of the most incredible nights sailing I have ever had, or will have and for that reason, the Round Britain and Ireland is the best yacht race I have ever taken part in."
All of the Relentless on Jellyfish crew were dockside to give three cheers to British Soldier as the Army Sailing Association's team finished the race. Jeff Johnstone, President of J/Boats, was also on the dock. Jeff was attending the J/111 World Championship in Cowes: "It is great to see our boats being used in such a terrific offshore race and the condition of the boats after taking a pounding is testament to the crews. The skipper of Relentless on Jellyfish has told me they broke a batten and a bulb, which is amazing after what they have gone through and for British Soldier to race with just five crew was remarkable."
There were only five serving members of the British Army on board British Soldier, a boat that is normally raced with eight. Due to a crew member returning to duty before the start and another taken off during the race with a dislocated shoulder, British Soldier was two men down, but still full of fight. British Soldier's skipper, Phil Caswell spoke about the experience:
"A tough race, but there was never any need to motivate the lads, they just got on with it and the battle with Relentless on Jelllyfish was the catalyst that we focused on. Congratulations to their skipper and crew. This race has been an incredible experience for us. All of the crew are decent sailors but with an average age of just 25, we have massively increased our experience. In a short period of time we have learnt so much and I am sure the Army Sailing Association will be back for the next race. This race is something that we will all draw on for the rest of our lives. Racing around Britain and Ireland is a fascinating experience."
Hanse 531, Saga, owned by Darren McLaughlin and skippered by RORC member Peter Hopps finished the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race before midnight on Friday 22nd August, winning IRC One. Peter Hopps has competed in 12 Fastnets but for the vast majority of the crew, this race was a totally new experience:
"The crew were a great gang of people. They have never done anything like this before and it is the longest trip for all of them, apart from Mark Lavender and Trudy Netherwood, who have both sailed across the Atlantic. It has been a really good, awesome race. You can't expect to sail around Britain and Ireland without having a bit of a blow. The four times I have done the course I have had 45 knots of wind somewhere on the trip, so that is what to expect and that is what makes this such an interesting and worthwhile race. You have to be ready to cope with anything. We have been racing together all season and in our first race we were flat last, so to win our class is an improvement! We never expected to win so it a real bonus, but everybody that has finished this race is a winner."
The trio of Two-Handed teams still racing are expected to finish today. Ian Hoddle's Figaro II, Rare, and Liam Coyne's First 36.7, Lula Belle, are approaching the finish. Werner Landwehr's Dessert D'Alcyone is expected to cross the finish line today, Saturday 23rd August to complete the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race.
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