Class 40s continue to dominate the Royal Western YC’s doublehanded Shetland Round Britain and Ireland Race.
The leg from Kinsale up to Castle Bay on Barra in the Outer Hebrides saw Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs on SunGard Front Arena overhaul the leaders into the first stopover, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire on Phesheya Racing. SunGard Front Arena reached the remote Scottish port on Saturday at 04:07:45, just 10 minutes ahead of their rivals. Hot on their heels was Will Claxton and Matt Gill’s Dazcat 10 trimaran Paradox, arriving at 04:20, the first multihull home, followed by Drama Queen, the Dazcat 1150 racer cruiser catamaran sailed by Simon Baker and Dan Fellows which reached Castle Bay at 06:38.
Alex Bennett and Malcolm Dickinson on board Fujifilm were fourth Class 40 home. They reported another small tear in their mainsail and one of the autopilots is not working properly on a leg where there were gale force winds resulting in them having had little sleep.
Bennett reported: “It was another close one. We reeled in the boat in front overnight, but they just pipped us to the post. I’m really pleased we’ve managed to gain two places since Kinsale, there have been some big seas and debilitating upwind sailing in this leg.”
Under IRC it is the Class 3 Lightwave 395, The Shed, sailed by Pip Hare and Phil Stubbs that leads ahead of OSTAR winner Rob Craigie and Charles Allen on the J/122 Jbellino by almost an hour.
With the bulk of the 56 strong fleet arriving in Barra over the course of Saturday and Sunday and only limited moorings available there was much fun with the remainder of the boats having to anchor on Castle Bay’s notoriously kelpy bottom, anchoring not being something racing sailors have to do very often.
This morning the leaders are already off on their way to the next stopover of Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, which will take them past the even more remote island of St Kilda, the almost uninhabited bird sanctuary some 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides. The boats then lay a course for the fabulously named Muckle Flugga at the top of the Shetlands before the final run down to Lerwick.
Weather-wise, conditions at present are relatively benign, with an area of high pressure encroaching north to the west of the British Isles. For the leaders this will see the wind die over the course today before filling in from the southwest tonight. The net result will be that it should prove good for the boats setting out on leg 3 tonight as they will head straight out into the building new breeze. For the leaders, as Marco Nannini reports below, it looks set to be a full blast to Muckle Flugga with 25 knots from astern.
Marco Nannini reports from SunGard Front Arena
We set off just over fours ago for the third leg of the Round Britain and Ireland race, we are currently leading first overall, and will have the challenging task of trying to keep ahead, with a challenging weather forecast ahead, winds will die down to nothing later tonight before swinging 180 degrees and filling in for was we expect to be an awesome trilling spinnaker run to Lerwick in the Shetlands some 450 miles away, but first we have to got through the light wind band and chase the new wind coming from the west.
When we woke up at 2 am a freezing northerly wind was blasting over Castle Bay at 25 kts, with sleepy eyes we made our way to the start line with the difficult call of whether to fly a spinnaker towards Barra Head.
The wind eased off a bit just before the start so we popped the fractional kite and did a very decent, on-time crossing of the line...the wind was anyhow gusty and it got quite exiciting on the way down, speeds in excess of 14 knots, several narrowly avoided broaches (that's when you lose control of the boat in strong winds and you are flattened on one side in a mess of flapping sails)... Then hit by a gust we wiped out, got things under control and decided to drop the kite to avoid any damage and use mainsail and headsail to the headland...
Meanwhile Phesheya was tracking behind at great speeds, they saw us dropping the kite but hung on, the wind actually eased off and they clearly were better off with the kite up and by Barra head they had almost caught us up... by the headland however we were ready to harden up towards St Kilda and by the time they took the spinnaker down and hoisted their headsail we had put again some space between us.
Now we are beating to windward to St Kilda, we are tracking along at almost identical speeds and there's never more than a few hundred yards between us and Phesheya, amazing! Although truth be told i think they are catching up...
The wind is progressively expected to decrese as we beat towards St Kilda then we'll have to face the ridge of light airs... Positions in the fleet can greatly change in light winds so it will be certainly one leg to follow!
The rest of the Class 40s started between 2.5 and 3.5 hours behind, the margin we had gained on them in the second leg.