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September 2022

2022 Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race, Day 5 - On the wild west way

by Louay Habib 11 Aug 13:52 BST 11 August 2022
Mzungu! is the new leader in IRC Two-Handed and overall in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race © Paul Wyeth / pwpictures.com

All of the fleet in the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race are now racing along the West Coast of Ireland. Progress continues to be slow but the beautiful, rugged coast is providing stunning vistas.

There is hope of escaping the high pressure into better breeze; IMOCA Medallia has found wind at the front of the boats and Mzungu! is the new leader in IRC Two-Handed and overall. Wildlife abounds, playing in the wake of boats.

Mzungu! leads IRC Two-Handed by a thin margin

The double-handed division has a new leader after IRC time correction. Sam White & Sam North racing JPK 1080 Mzungu! now leads by a very tight margin and Mzungu! is also ranked as the overall leader of the race.

However, the margin of the lead in IRC Two-Handed is extremely slender; Rob Craigie racing Sun Fast 3600 Bellino with Deb Fish is just three minutes behind after five days and nights of racing! Nick Martin's Sun Fast 3600 Diablo, racing with Cal Finlayson is ranked third by less than an hour. Gavin Howe's Sun Fast 3600 Tigris, racing with Maggie Adamson is also in the pack of leaders and ranked fourth after IRC time correction.

Deb Fish on board Bellino checked in at 0600 on Day Five giving an insight into the tactical and strategic decisions made out on the race course"

"Our little pack - Bellino, Diablo, Tigris and Mzungu! are still within a few miles of each other. Morale is high on board Bellino as we made a relative gain on the others," wrote Deb Fish. "In such close racing you have to balance strategy - the big picture - with tactics - the opportunity to make a small gain on your neighbours. Last night we tacked inshore on the beat past Great Skellig. We reasoned that the wind was forecast to go right but had to balance this against the forecast of slightly stronger winds offshore. We tacked, Tigris followed, Diablo continued. End result - we gained a mile and a half on Diablo. Strategically the winds are so light our main aim is to position us wherever the wind is strongest. But grib files are often inaccurate when winds are this light so the big question is when to believe them. I try to look for a reason why - if I can understand I am more inclined to believe it."

Medallia - Shifting along

Pip Hare's British IMOCA Medallia finally got into good breeze in the early hours of this morning. After passing Tearaght Island, Medallia worked offshore to hook into the fresh south-westerly wind and is now away, recording over 12 knots of boat speed. On board the relief was evident in Pip Hare's Day 5 morning update:

"We finally made it across the ridge of high pressure and sailed into the tail of the pressure system to the north of us," commented Pip on her video blog. "The spinnaker went up this morning and we are shifting along which is great. Hopefully we have this breeze for 24 hours then it's going to get tricky again." Medallia passed Black Rock at 07:50 BST this morning.

IRC One

Three boats have made good speed along the West of Ireland. Ross Hobson's British Open 50 Pegasus of Northumberland, racing Two-Handed with Jon McColl is still leading on the water, but two boats made big gains by their approach to Bull Rock on Day 4. Michael Møllmann's Elliott 35 Palby Marine and Christian Heermann's Hamburgischer Verein Seefahrt (HVS) team racing German JV52 Haspa Hamburg. All three boats look to be staying inshore trying to get through the ridge of high pressure. After IRC time correction Haspa Hamburg leads IRC One, with Palby Marine second and the German JV53 Bank von Bremen skippered by Christoph Tschernischen in third.

Bank von Bremen's navigator Johannes Flume commented from on board this morning: "We are making some progress along the Irish coast but the last two days were psychologically tough - and the race so far is quite different than expected. The Celtic Sea was like the Mediterranean and some of the crew were dreaming of going to a pub in Inishmore! The last two sunsets were magnificent with truly fascinating colours and we have seen whales and dolphins. Some Irish fishermen must have some curious thoughts about German sailors as we glided passed MS Edelweiss just off Bull Rock!"

Marie Tabarly's 73 ketch Pen Duick VI is the heaviest boat in the race and is struggling to make progress, but their minimal boat speed and their large black hull is also an attraction to whales!

?Check out the Live! Competitors' blog for a video clip.

Class40s

Due to slow progress and work commitments two of the leading Class40s have retired from the race: Andrea Fornaro's Influence and Antoine Magre's Palanad 3. Both teams are returning to base and all is well on board. Just three Class40s are now racing, with James McHugh's Tquila leading by seven miles from James Stableford's Mussulo 40 which got ahead of Greg Leonard's Kite after rounding Tearaght Island.

All of the boats racing in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race have now rounded Bull Rock Island off the southwestern tip of the beautiful Beara Peninsula, West Cork. Nicknamed the 'Entrance to the Underworld', Bull Rock is pierced by a natural tunnel at its centre.

This is the calmest start to the race in modern editions, but at least the competitors have the joy of whale watching and seeing some of the 1,805nm course's amazing wonders.

Follow the progress of the race on the website: roundbritainandireland.rorc.org

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