Criterion Round Britain and Ireland Race - Day 2
What’s rapidly becoming a demolition derby has continued into the second day of the Criterion Round Britain and Ireland Race. There has been another three retirements - and perhaps soon a fourth - since the last report yesterday afternoon.
Mollymawk was the first to admit defeat, as we had reported earlier, Ross Hobson and his crew had a problem with their newly built mast. That problem was the diamond shrouds stretching, allowing the homemade plywood wingmast to flex dangerously. After the boat returned to Sandown Bay on the Isle of Wight, the crew tried to take the slack out of the diamonds, but broke the masthead crane in the process. After returning to Hamble Yacht Services to try and fix it, the crew was finally forced to give in and retire. It has been a tough challenge to be ready for the start since Hobson broke the rig during the Europe 1 New Man Star a couple of months ago.
For a map of the latest positions, click here.
We also reported yesterday that Brainwave of Brighton had an oil link with their engine last night, and were pondering their options. Skipper Carl Hardwidge has since reported, ‘A gasket off our camshaft broke and the seal was leaking oil into the bilges. The lack of special tools to fit a new one overcame us so we diverted into Salcombe for repairs by an engineer.’ They repaired it and were going to carry on sailing - although they won’t be racing having received outside assistance in Salcombe - but then broke their impeller and damaged the camshaft. They are now awaiting a spare part, and currently intend to carry on the journey, as they are sponsored to benefit the British Brain and Spine Foundation charity.
Overnight it was the turn of Lorna Graham and Rory Moore to hit trouble, double-handed aboard Psipsina, a HOD 35. They appear to have broached, and in doing so Lorna was thrown out of her bunk and hurt. It’s a back injury and after discussion with the Coastguard, Lorna was airlifted off the boat at midday and taken to Truro hospital, where she is now undergoing checks. Rory Moore, meanwhile, was sailing single-handed and being escorted to St Mary’s on the Scilly Isles.
The most recent report of difficulties comes from Terry Rowe’s Predator of Wight, a Murray 41. They have rig problems and are apparently taking on water, and are reported to be heading for Kinsale on the south coast of Ireland. Also in difficulty and in touch with the Coastguard is Water Music IV, a Nicholson 49. Sailing her double-handed are Chris Preston and Rob Gray. They have a steering system failure and have reverted to the emergency steering system. At the moment we don’t know if they are carrying on, or heading in to try and repair it.
But there is still a race going on out there, as conditions worsen. The low pressure that has been dominating the weather pattern is now centred off the Bay of Biscay and is continuing to spin up to generate some strong south-easterly and easterly breeze over the race course. This is forecast to continue until the low pressure starts to weaken overnight on Wednesday. That means plenty of breeze and fast reaching and downwind sailing angles. There was 30 to 40 knots out in the Atlantic this afternoon.
The bigger boats are coping with it more comfortably. The Open 50s - Alex Thomson and Pindar - along with the catamaran Dazzler and the Corby 45, Incisor, are all off the south-west coast of Ireland. Aboard Pindar in the early afternoon they reported, ‘Gusts regularly over 40 knots, but that's not the problem. Some of the waves are frighteningly steep. We are hand-steering, on the edge of control. Thirty miles to next way-point which is Bull Rock off south-west Ireland. Should be a little more sheltered. Everything wet and a lot of water coming over boat.’
Those that get far enough to the north-west will be to the west of Ireland and in the lee of the south-easterly and easterly gale, but it’s going to be a long, tough night for the smaller boats out in the Irish Sea.