Criterion Round Britain and Ireland Race - Day 1

Monday 21st August, 1600

Monday August 21st 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
After the dramas of last night, there continues to be plenty of action - though largely of the unwanted kind. The latest retirement is the Open 85 of Pascal Herold, who has a problem with the lifting keel of his stunning Alex Simonis designed boat, the four month old Les Folies des Grinders. Herold was off the Lizard when he decided that the problem, though not threatening the safety of the boat, was bad enough to force him to retire and they are now headed back to Le Havre.

Les Folies joins First Knight on the casualty list, Chris Mincham and Andrew Leslie were holed above the waterline in a collision with a merchant ship off Portland Bill last night. They were towed the 23 miles to Weymouth, and though safe and unhurt will not be participating any further in the race.

For a map of the latest positions, click here.

The other drama of last night concerned the Sigma 38 Red Coat, and they have also decided to call it a day and head back to Gosport. The good news is that hurt crewman Andy Brown is not badly injured, though he does have a seriously bruised back. But while Andy was being treated in hospital, his crewmates discovered a loose keel-bolt, and decided that they would join the growing list of retirees.

The team of doctors aboard Brainwave of Brighton have also reported trouble, an oil leak on their engine and, unsure if they can fix it, are considering pulling into Salcombe - any outside assistance would disqualify them from the event. The trimaran with the rig problem, Mollymawk, is still in Sandown Bay, and was planning to rejoin the race at about 1700 this afternoon.

For that dwindling band still out on the race course, conditions have also remained difficult - the kind of weather we Brits politely call ‘changeable’. Once out in the English Channel last night, the girls aboard Pindar reported the wind swinging to the north, Miranda Merron, ‘We tacked soon after sighting the Cherbourg Peninsula, but kept being lifted on starboard tack when we were hoping the wind would swing the other way!’

The forecast we had for yesterday’s start was also for the breeze to settle in the south-west, as a low pressure formed off Ireland and sank southwards. That’s still going to happen, but there’s a lot of local squall activity drifting across the Channel and that seems to be keeping everyone on their toes with some very variable weather. And by lunchtime today, the front boats were still all about a hundred miles from the Bishop Rock, but with the leadership unclear.

Better conditions are on the way though, the low pressure is now forecast to center itself a little further out in the Atlantic and deepen a little more as it drifts south. The breeze should settle and strengthen from the south-west tonight, and then build and slowly rotate to the south-east and then east by midday Wednesday. That ought to mean fast downwind conditions for everyone across the Irish Sea and up the west coast of Ireland.

To check out the latest positions, click on the link below:

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