Criterion Round Britain and Ireland Race - Day 12

Friday 1st September 2000, 1230, by Mark Chisnell

Friday September 1st 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
Double-handed winners, Emma Richards and Miranda Merron
The finishes have continued since the last report, with Incisor of Wight the third boat to arrive over the Royal Yacht Squadron line at 12:06:45 yesterday. The owner of the Corby 45, Derek Saunders, commented, ‘Our idea was to push the boat as hard as possible all the way and that's what we did. The boats in front of us had much higher ratings so we are very pleased with our overall achievements.’ That should give them the overall crewed mono-hull prize.

The only boat with a chance left at beating her is Primadonna. They are the next to come home, with 33 nm to go to the Owers Buoy (just east of the entrance to the Solent), at 12.20 today. They need to be at the Squadron line by 17.30 to beat Incisor on handicap. That’s the best part of 50 nm in five hours - probably not possible in the conditions, which we’ll look at in a moment.

After Incisor came Pindar, finishing at 17:38:17 yesterday. Emma Richards and Miranda Merron sailing the Open 50 double-handed - and welcomed home by Pete Goss and the Team Philips crew, with champagne and beer. ‘We had a fantastic race!’ commented Miranda, ‘The weather and tidal variants and the physical hazards kept us on our toes the whole time. We had our share of really hairy moments, such as bouncing on 46 knots downwind in the Irish Sea and navigating blind with no depth sounder in shallow waters in the pitch dark.’

Their finish almost certainly gives them the double-handed mono-hull win, as Water Music IV needs to be home by 17.30 on Sunday to beat them on handicap. Water Music IV had 426 nm to North Foreland at 06.22 this morning - she would need three hundred miles a day to achieve the double-handed win, unlikely. Emma Richards was more than happy with this result, ‘This was our focus in this race - and we are really pleased at the overall results.’

Aquadanca had 333 nm to go to North Foreland at 06.30 this morning and Stealth is back on satellite reporting, 441 nm to the same headland at 06.15. That just leaves Act of Defiance, 536 nm to North Foreland at 13.19 yesterday. A new report is promised any moment, so check out the position map - click here. This is the lowest rating boat in the fleet and they must be in by Sunday afternoon to beat Incisor - Tuesday is more likely. So while there are still class prizes to be won, with the exception of Primadonna, the overall double-handed, crewed, multi-hull, and mono-hull results are all but confirmed.

Primadonna needs all the help she can get from the weather. The prospects for the fleet are improving, though they will need to make the most of what’s coming next. The big low pressure that’s brought the wind (and the rain), is currently sitting right over the British Isles, and it’s forecast to move slowly across the country today, heading out over the North Sea tomorrow. We can expect that to produce some significant swings in the wind direction.

Primadonna is on the home straight, and she badly needs the front to pass and the breeze to swing to the north-west, from the south-west. That would turn the beat into a reach and give them a shot at the ten knots they need to be doing - even then, it’s a tough task. Right now, the south coast is raked by squalls and rain - hard weather for yacht racing.

For the remaining four boats in the North Sea, the low pressure center is forecast to go through to the south of them. That ought to swing the breeze round through the east and into the north. We can already see some of this happening from the weather buoy reports. Up at the Shetlands, close to Act of Defiance, there was a south-easterly at 11 knots, while further south off Aberdeen and closer to Stealth, Water Music IV and Aquadanca, the breeze was more easterly, having backed from south over night. So things are improving, these boats will soon be reaching and can look forward to some fast downwind sailing soon.

But the low pressure is filling all the time, and that will drop the wind speeds over the next 24 hours. Then through to Sunday, a high pressure is expected to re-establish itself over the country, and we’ll be looking at much lighter winds. Those still racing will need to make the most of those strong northerly’s and push hard through the next 24 hours. We’ll see how they did on Monday.

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