First boats into Lerwick
In the light southwesterly, boats have been trickling into Lerwick on the Royal Western Yacht Club's two handed Shetland Round Britain Race over the last 24 hours with Will Claxton and Matt Gill aboard their trimaran Paradox first home in just under 45 hours from starting leg 3.
By mid-morning on Wednesday, Alex Bennett and Malcolm Dickinson on Fujifilm led the Class40s round Muckle Flugga with 40-50 miles to the finish, closely pursued by Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs on SunGard Front Arena with the Norwegian duo of Rune Aasberg and Arild Schei on Solo who took a southerly approach, squeezing around Muckle Flugga just ahead of Phesheya-Racing as Nick Leggatt and Pippa Hutton-Squire gybed down from the north.
For Bennett, catching and overhauling the Class40 leaders had required considerable risks: “We’ve been sailing hard, flying the full wall of sail with the masthead spinnaker up much longer than we really should in those conditions,” he admitted as Fujifilm sailed down the east coast of Shetland. “But it worked – we took the lead having closed in on SunGard and Phesheya despite their three hour head start.”
As the wind began to drop at mid-afternoon on Wednesday, Nannini and Peggs on SunGard Front Arena overtook Bennett and Dickinson on Fujifilm as the two leading Class40s approached the Isle of Noss due east of Lerwick with just one final headland to round before the finish line and SunGard Front Arena making just under 5 knots with Fujifilm averaging 2.5 knots in the light westerly breeze. Approximately five miles behind Bennett’s green Class40, the Norwegians on Solo hung onto a lead of two miles over the South Africans on board Phesheya-Racing. Nannini and Peggs held the Class 40 lead and took first place on SunGard Front Arena crossing the Lerwick finish line at 16:30 BST on Wednesday, 31 minutes ahead of Bennett and Dickinson on Fujifilm.
Just over one hour later, the Norwegians on Solo took third place finishing 21 minutes ahead of the South African duo on Phesheya-Racing.
For the Italian skipper of SunGard Front Arena, keeping at the front of the fleet with such close competition is demanding: “It was a tough leg,” admits Nannini. “The strong weather and fast sailing conditions required lots of hard work; the navigation was also quite challenging as our immediate chasers split to the opposite sides of the course and we had a tough time trying to cover our lead,” he recalls. “Fujifilm was ahead at Muckle Flugga and we only caught up at the last headland. So some luck there and lots of excitement throughout.”
Paul Peggs agrees with Nannini: “Very pleased to be here in first after an exhilarating, fast race,” adds Peggs. “Real glad we managed to pass Fujifilm on the last few miles with a bit of luck in finding an inshore breeze as the wind kept dropping towards the end.”
The competitors have a mandatory 48 hours stopover in Lerwick before the start of Leg 4 to Lowestoft during which time Nannini and Peggs will be making vital repairs to their A2 masthead spinnaker.
Shetland Round Britain & Ireland Race rankings after Leg 3 to Lerwick:
1. Paradox (Claxton - Gill) 5d 23:07:29
2. SunGard Front Arena (Nannini – Peggs) 6d 04:23:10
3. FujiFilm (Bennett – Dickinson) 6d 04:54:10
4. Solo (Aasberg – Schei) 6d 05:58:40
5. Phesheya-Racing (Leggatt – Hutton-Squire) 6d 06:19:12
6. Spliff (Dawson – McColl) 6d 10:27:20
7. Orca (Tolkein – Brewer) 6d 11:50:00
8. Roaring Forty (Magrath – Pugh) 6d 14:24:01
9. Sec.Hayai (Budel – Banffer) 6d 19:53:12
10. Livewire (Dodd – Marshall)