Lerwick in sight for Paradox

As Fujifilm defends their second place in the Shetlands Round Britain Race

Wednesday June 16th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

This morning Will Claxton and Matt Gill’s trimaran Paradox has one headland to round before they arrive in Lerwick, the third stopover in the Shetlands Round Britain and Ireland Race.

Fast reaching conditions over the last 24 hours has allowed the 10m trimaran crew to turn on the afterburners and they have extended their lead to 34 miles over Alex Bennett and Malcolm Dickinson aboard the first Class 40, Fujifilm. Of the northerly group of Class 40s, yesterday Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs on SunGard Front Arena made the best of it and are now just two miles astern of Fujifilm as two other Class 40s, Solo and Phesheya Racing, are currently rounding Muckle Flugga at the northernmost end of the Shetlands.

For the leaders the wind has gone light this morning with the boats tackling the east coast of the Shetlands in 5-10 knot southwesterlies (with the land in between).

Marco Nannini reported yesterday from SunGard Front Arena

We have pressed on giving the all in, at some point Phesheya, still north of us and in a strategically better place was clocking up the miles faster than we could and our lead was seriously under threat. The wind was hitting 20 knots for the first time and 20 was the number Paul and I had agreed upon as to when we would change the big masthead spinnaker called A2 to the smaller fractional A6 more suited for the strong winds we were facing.

We've all been there, the racing, when the red mist gets to you and you don’t change down chasing that extra margin... we stayed on the big A2 kite as the wind progressively built up, at some stage we had steady 25 knots true, the top gust I saw while helming was 29 knots... the sailing has been exhilarating, I set my new top speed on the boat at 19.03 knots in reasonably flat waters (more is possible with waves).

On the position report at 1600 we had put 4.5 miles between us and Phesheya, by 1900 we had 11.2 miles lead. The sailing has been extremely tough, using the autopilot is out of the question and even with all the concentration and care our hands could put in we must have broached 10 or 15 times, the wind laid us flat on our side, boom in the water, spinnaker flapping noisily, boat round up into the wind, then slowly we regained control to bear off and go off again at neck breaking speeds down the next wave.

Alex Bennett on Fujifilm has also been our worry since Saint Kilda as he was tracking along very fast. At this stage i'd say we are equally distant from Muckle Flagga, although we should have a slight advantage being north of him, the wind is turning clockwise pushing our courses further south until we'll both have to gybe...

It's hard to tell who will come out top in this battle, 36 miles separate us laterally so we could end up in different winds making gains or losing out.

The wind has started to drop, as predicted, so we should be through the worst and from the high 20s we are now in the teens, all different ballpark. 110 miles to Muckle Flugga.

The fast sailing of today will certainly remain as a vivid memory of this race, absolutely fantastic!


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