Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race postponed
After announcing that the course for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race would be changed to anticlockwise, the Royal Ocean Racing Club has now announced that the start of the race has been postponed by 21 hours. The new start time will be 0900 on Monday 11th August 2014.
The Race Committee took this decision after receiving advice that the low pressure system, formerly known as Hurricane Bertha, is moving more slowly than previously predicted, with the result that the forecast winds for the start and the immediate period afterwards includes sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts in excess of 50 knots in the English Channel.
The advice is that this delay will allow time for the severe winds to abate as the low pressure system moves northeast.
Katrin Hilbert speaking on behalf of the Custom JV 52 Haspa Hamburg commented: "The adrenaline was pumping, we were ready to go but we realise that the decision was made for all the right reasons; our hearts were saying let's go! But our heads were looking at the bigger picture. Some of the younger crew are disappointed but we will sit down and talk about it in a coffee shop. Cowes is a nice place, it is better to have the discussion there than in terrible weather in the English Channel."
Ian Hoddle, skipper of Rare, one of the smallest yachts in the race and also attempting the gruelling course two-handed, hadn't heard the news until he was just about to leave the dock. "I was literally hugging my wife farewell when the text message came through and to be honest I felt a bit deflated. The good news is my mum and dad live in Cowes and I am here with my two daughters, so it's all back to Grandma's for tea! We respect the RORC decision, we know it is well-informed so that is just how it is and we will be ready to go in the morning."
Sidney Gavignet, French skipper of the MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail, fully supported the decision. With a 50/50 crew onboard of mixed ability, from highly experienced offshore professionals to less experienced Omani crewmates, safety is paramount and the extreme speed of the trimaran would have put the team in 35-45 knots for 30 hours from the start.
Gavignet commented: "Had we started today, given the speed of the trimaran, very soon after the start we would have had more than 35 knots, during the night 40 knots and from Sunday night until Monday evening we would have moved with the low pressure in the centre of the North Sea which would mean that we would have had constant 40-45 knots.
"Considering the risks - the boat and the people - and the fact that we are a team of mixed ability with some very experienced crew and some semi-experienced guys who are still learning the boat, we fully support the decision to postpone the race start to Monday morning.
"Looking at the weather tomorrow morning, the low pressure will decrease in terms of intensity. We will still have a chance at a very good lap, still very close to the course record but with between 15 and 35 knots which is much more manageable."
Brian Thompson, skipper of the IMOCA 60 Artemis Team-Endeavour, agreed: "A very, very wise decision. Our weather files are showing 45 knots of wind at an angle of 100° in an area of the North Sea, past Lowestoft. It would be dangerous to go through there at that time. Leaving tomorrow morning, we are still routing to finish in the same elapsed time but it will be far safer. The decision to delay the start has meant that we will be in race mode rather than survival mode."