Criterion Round Britain and Ireland Race – Day 8

Monday 28th August 2000 1300 by Mark Chisnell

Monday August 28th 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
It’s all slowed up overnight, with no one else yet round the northern tip of the Shetlands at Muckle Flugga. Primadonna, Christopher Bull’s Prima 38, was the last round yesterday morning, and by 0600 this morning she had crept her way to within 450 nm of North Foreland.

What’s happened is that the two rather weak areas of low pressure - that we talked about yesterday - have resolved into one, which is centered somewhere just east of Hull. At the same time an equally feeble (but building) ridge of high pressure is forming to the north-west of the Western Isles. The net effect is a light northerly (anywhere from north-east to north-west) breeze blowing over the whole of the fleet’s current race track.

For a map of the latest positions, click here.

Unfortunately for the back of the fleet, it’s even weaker in the Atlantic to the west of Scotland than it is in the North Sea. The weather buoy closest to the back group of four - Aquadanca, Water Music IV, Stealth and Act of Defiance - was recording just a couple of knots of northerly wind at 1100 this morning, and it had been like that overnight.

Unsurprisingly, there’s no great race action to report from this group, they are now up past the Flannan Isles waypoint, and had about 200 nm to go to Muckle Flugga at 0600 this morning. Aquadanca and Water Music IV were still just a couple of miles apart at that position report, with Act of Defiance about 25 nm behind them. There’s still no recent position for Stealth.

Over on the other side of Scotland in the North Sea, the rich are getting richer - though slowly. Weather buoys off the Shetlands and Aberdeen are both reporting northerly breeze at about eight knots.

The leader, Alex Thomson, had made slow progress overnight and at 0800 this morning was south of Edinburgh, with less than 250 nm to go to North Foreland. Dropping back overnight to just under 70 nm behind Thomson was Dazzler. But Mike Butterfield’s catamaran was finally shaking off Incisor, opening up a gap of just under 30 nm to the Corby 45. More slow progress though, less than a hundred miles covered in the previous 18 hours. Pindar’s next, but we don’t know where - as with Stealth, the satellite position reporting system aboard Richards and Merron’s boat is refusing to cooperate.

The forecast for the next few days doesn’t promise much more in the way of action. That building ridge of high pressure looks set to sink south-east as the low pressure over the North Sea fills and disappears. Until by Wednesday the high is firmly planted over the British Isles. That’s likely to hold the light and variable but generally northerly breeze over the North Sea, becoming easterly in the English Channel - if anyone’s managed to get that far by then.

Things start to move again on Thursday with a low pressure approaching from the west, that’ll swing the breeze into the south-west and pick up the tempo with the possibility of gales. By then, I suspect that’ll be a relief for our fleet.

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