Criterion Round Britain and Ireland Race - Day 10

Wednesday 30th August 2000, 1200, by Mark Chisnell

Wednesday August 30th 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
The high pressure remains in control and the race stays slow, on day 10 of the Criterion Round Britain and Ireland. We’ve got one more boat around Muckle Flugga, that’s Aquadanca, the leader of the back group of four boats. John Oldland’s Sigma 38 had 544 nm to go to North Foreland at 06.30 this morning. Behind her, Water Music IV still had 35 nm to go to the Shetlands and Act of Defiance was another 40 nm behind her.

I’m afraid that we still don’t have a position for Stealth, as her satellite reporting system seems to have failed. The crew won’t know that we aren’t receiving reports, but we hope that when they get closer to the mainland after rounding the Shetlands, they will contact us on their mobile phone.

For a map of the latest positions, click here.

The center of the high pressure that’s been controlling the race is now over the British Isles and, combined with the low pressure over Scandinavia, is still generating the northerly breeze down the North Sea. The weather buoy at the Shetlands was showing 16 knots from 350 at 06.00 this morning. Going south, the wind drops as you move away from the low pressure and veers to the right. So at Dungeness there is only eight knots at 030 - a north-easterly. This change in direction is produced by the clockwise rotation of the breeze around the center of the high, which is somewhere over the Midlands.

Dungeness is where Alex Thomson is about to head for, he phoned in at 10.00 this morning and reported that he had only 15 nm to go to North Foreland. He confirmed the wind direction as north-easterly and only six knots. They had been tucked inshore overnight, fighting a foul current, but now with the tide turned they were hoping to get round the point - almost on the home straight.

Dazzler is still creeping closer to Thomson though, the distance closer to 20 nm this morning. Incisor is hanging on behind her, having only lost about eight miles in the last 24 hours. Pindar is now reporting her position by email, as she has lost all her instruments and the satellite position reporting system with it. Richards and Merron are about 15 nm behind Incisor. The big gainer from the stronger breeze to the north is Primadonna, having taken nearly 50 nm out of Incisor - Christopher Bull’s Prima 38 is now just over a hundred miles behind.

The action will be slow for a while yet, before it quickens as that long-promised low pressure system finally arrives. It’s coming from the north-west and pushing the high pressure out of the way to the south-east. The back of the fleet is going to get the new breeze first, as it sweeps in from the north-west. That should close the gap between the two groups and could have an impact on the handicap positions.

It’s going to be tough all round for the front of the fleet, they will see some very difficult conditions as the high goes over the top of them. The wind is going to rotate from the north-east to the south-west - whether it goes via the north or the south depends on where the individual boats are in relation to the center of the high. There’s plenty of room for changes in these final miles.

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