Mixed conditions mixed fortunes

At the remaining two handed Round Britain boats struggle to reach Lerwick

Friday June 21st 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Around half of the fleet had arrived at Lerwick in the Shetlands this morning on the third stopover of the Royal Western Yacht Club's two handed Round Britain and Ireland Race after a leg of variable conditions from gale force winds and giant seas to flat calms. Jerry Freeman's Open 30 Alice's Mirror had at the time of writing just clawed her way over the line having taken 12 hours to cover the last 40 miles to the finish line.

Storms that prevented the front runners from leaving Barra on Monday, led to a levelling of the race effectively restarting. Leaving Castle Bay the boats faced a hard beat into force six winds to get round the bottom of the Outer Hebridean island of Barra and then an awkward broad reach across to St Kilda in very lumpy seas left over from the severe winds. Rounding St Kilda on to a run, conditions became easier, although the winds once again began to build with gusts of up to 35 knots.

During Wednesday while they were half way across to Muckle Flugga at the top end of Sheetland, race leader Meridian, the 30ft trimaran of Roger Barber and Malcolm Whitehead, dismasted. "We broached and getting out of it the rig went over the side," a disappointed Barber told madfor sailing. "The mast broke in two and we had to cut the whole thing away. We had nothing left except the boom. We had to get it over the side, before it damaged the boat. There was a big sea going over us at the time and there wasn't anything else we could do."

Barber and Whitehead had to undo the rigging and cut through the forestay. They let some halyards go and had to cut through others. Barber believes they had cleared the rig in around 30 minutes.

After taking some time out to recover, they set up a jury rig using the boom and sailed round the south side of Shetland into Lerwick, motoring the last distance. "I'd got brand new sails and everything was going well," commented Barber philosophically. "If we'd gone another six hours and we would probably have had light winds for the rest of the race..."

With Meridian now out of the race (although yet to retire formally) the Round Britain Race has a new leader in the French couple Roger Langevin and Henriette LeMay on their Open 50, Branec III, who have more than six hours on Ross Hobson's second placed 40ft trimaran Mollymawk.

Arrival times of first boats in Shetland:

1. Branec III 20 June - 02:59:30
2. Mollymawk - 09:21:00
3. Pegasus - 09:48:38
4: Syllogic - 15:07:33

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