RBR fleet decimated

Front runners in two handed round Britain and Ireland race due to restart tonight.

Wednesday June 12th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Gale force winds on Sunday night decimated the fleet in the Royal Western Yacht Club's two handed Round Britain & Ireland Race. 13 boats have now retired, while the remaining 16 are now arrived in Crosshaven, Cork.

Interestingly it is the smallest boat in the fleet, the 30ft trimaran Meridian sailed by Roger Barber and Malcolm Whitehead which is currently leading after two of the race favourites Robin Herbert's Gleam and William Foster and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on the 45ft tri Spirit were forced to retire. Meridian is due to restart on the second leg up to Castle Bay, on the Outer Hebridean island of Barra at around 11pm BST tonight.

A majority of the boats have retired with rig or sail damage, athough there were several instances of 'illness'. Richard Roscoe, skipper of the Farrier F9AX trimaran Trioche pulled out when he had to be rushed to hospital to deal with a serious eye infection.

"The conditions were fresh at the start, but it was nice and sunny and we had a beautiful sail to the Eddistone," Roscoe told madfor sailing. They had got out of Plymouth Sound in fourth place and at the Eddistone light (the first mark of the course) had tacked to go inshore, while other boats continued offshore. With a reasonable blow forecast their tactics wwre to stay inshore where the water should be flatter. "The wind was freshening - we were under two reefs and heavy weather jib, but the boat was handling it beautifully," continued Roscoe. They met up with Meridian and sailed straight through her lee.

However as they were approaching Falmouth, Roscoe and his crew Simon Forbes noticed that the diamonds were beginning to snatch as they jumped off waves and early Sunday evening they decided to pull into Falmouth. On their arrival Roscoe realised that his eye infection had become acute and he was taken away hospital. Their race was over.

Fortunately the forecast for the next few days is looking much improved for the remain boats. The front runners leaving tonight can expect a 15 knot WSWly wind. This will back to the south east on Thursday night and looks like it will go light towards the finish, although there is a small possibility it will blow old boots from the east towards the finish.

For those behind the conditions it look like they will experience a more stable south westerly - in short it will be a fast, most enjoyable sail - provided they can avoid the fishing nets off the Irish coast.

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