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Line honours for Niall Dowling's Baraka GP in the Volvo Round Ireland Race

by John O'Connor 4 Jul 2018 16:57 BST 4 July 2018
Line honours for Baraka GP in the 2018 Volvo Round Ireland Race © David Branigan / Oceansport

With a break in the weather that delivered a direct route to the Wicklow finishing-line, Niall Dowling and his ten-strong crew on Baraka GP won line honours as first boat home in the Volvo Round Ireland Race this afternoon.

The remaining 46 boats still at sea are facing light winds raising the prospect of Dowling's team winning the overall race that is decided on IRC handicap.

The next finisher is expected to be Libertalia Team Jolokia skippered by Jean-francois Levasseur about 12 hours behind Baraka Gp and expected in the early hours of Thursday morning.

"The Volvo Round Ireland is a really, really hard race; it's like Mount Kilimanjaro - it's one of the biggest, one of the hardest mountains to climb," commented Ian Moore, navigator on Baraka Gp who previously won this race in 2004. "It's a little bit longer than the other races, it's a little more difficult, the conditions are a little more unpredcitable... it's in there with the great classics."

While Baraka Gp will depart tomorrow to compete in the Round the Island Race in Cowes, several competitors in the Volvo Round Ireland Race may yet be at sea a week after starting out from Wicklow.

The overall race win hangs by a thread, currently favouring Baraka Gp thanks to the overnight breeze on the Irish Sea but remains open to several contenders before victory can be declared.

Chris Power Smith's Aurelia from Dun Laoghaire has over 100 nautical miles to sail and is the main challenger - at present - to the line honours winner but an overnight finish will be needed to dislodge Dowling.

"I think we're fighting against the clock given that we're a large(r) boat and this is going to be a small boat race," Dowling said ashore at Wicklow Sailing Club. "It's been ten years since I did the race and I won't leave it as long next time!"

However, this race is far from over and past form means plenty of upsets to the standings remain in the form of weather vagaries and tidal gates on the final miles to the finishing-line.

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