It’s now Wednesday morning 27th June and the entire fleet of 36 racing boats are stretched between Belfast Lough (Tonnere de Breskens 3) and Slyne Head off Galway (Ocean Tango). There have been no major dramas other than a collision on the start line and a few minor in-boat problems with gear (Lula Belle had to repair a broken gooseneck, etc)
Check out the start – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zll-g4b2Buo
As with all sailing events, the wind is a major contributing factor and this race has been a light to medium wind event so far. The forecast is not promising any real fireworks either. With light airs, another enemy comes into play – the tide. Currently, 2 boats have made it through the North Channel tide gate and are now neck and neck on the “charge” to Wicklow. Tonnere, a Ker 46, is leading the way ahead of his much larger foe, Green Dragon, a V70, which in theory should be well out in front.
See the Race tracker http://www.roundirelandyachtrace.ie/follow-the-race/race-tracker/#
On handicap, a real dogfight has developed between Tonnere and Inis Mor, who between them have lead the race on corrected time since the start. Other challengers, NUI Galway and Noonmark VI are keeping tabs on the leaders but the one all of them will be watching is Cavatina. Already a 2 time winner, Cavatina, has hauled herself up from a lowly placing in the 20’s to 5th this morning. I guarantee you, the tacticians on board the leading boats will be watching her progress every inch of the way.
It’s unlikely that we’ll have a finish before dark tonight and it is quite likely that we could have a match race to the finish of the 46 and 70 footer rivals sometime in the late evening today, early hours of Thursday morning. Winds are southerly but not very strong, so they’ll probably be tacking down the Irish Sea.
Theo and Dennis of our race team will be on hand to greet their crews on arrival and it will be fingers crossed that it will be high tide so that we can get them alongside for a few hours, due to their deep draughts. We hope they’ll consume several draughts of a black liquid if they do make it ashore in Wicklow! The bulk of the fleet will be arriving Thurs pm through to Fri pm, so we expect a fairly buzzing Wicklow Sailing Club clubhouse over the next few days.
After such a brilliant start and a wonderful SailFest, all we need now is a nailbiting finale with mid fleet boats staying in the hunt right up the finish line. Come on Cavatina – no. 3 is in sight, we’re all rooting for you. The other serious dark horse out there at present are the students of NUI-Galway – any Irish winner would be a boost to our flagging morale.
Of course, there is a lot of interest from Wicklow with 6 or 7 sailors scattered amongst the fleet. Currently, the one doing best is Simon Johnson, bowman on board Tonnere. Brian Flahive, on Lula Belle, had been well up the fleet until they broke their gooseneck – the joys of sailing. As always, we wish all our sailors a safe passage and hope to see them again in 2 years time.