by Louay Habib
More than 200 competitors are spending their last day ashore before the start of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race at 1200 BST Sunday 10 August. The weather conditions for the race have been the main topic of conversation and it looks like it will be a ballistic start to the 1800 mile non-stop race.
Jens Kellinghusen's Ker 51, Varuna (GER)
Last night's closing firework display for AAM Cowes Week was a damp affair, a precursor for the days ahead as the remnant of Hurricane Bertha is set to arrive today. Severe weather warnings have been issued for torrential downpours across England and Wales, and the weather forecast for tomorrow is predicting a feisty start to the race.
'The two weather models we are looking at don't quite agree but it is definitely going to be a windy start,' commented Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's navigator, Simon Fisher. 'At the moment we could see as much as 30 knots of wind from the southwest at the start, with gusts even higher. The other scenario would put the direction more to the west and have slightly less wind, maybe 25 knots. However, the wind angle at the start will be right on the sweet spot for the VO65s and we could easily see 25 knots of boat speed as we fly downwind off the start line. It is the first time five of the boats have lined up and we are all eager to get going.'
German America's Cup sailor Tim Daase is the boat captain for Jens Kellinghusen's Ker 51, Varuna. 'Varuna has competed in all of the major offshore races over the last 12 months, including the RORC Caribbean 600 which was the wettest race of them all; our owner just loves to sail in these events. But this race is a massive test for us and the boat. We have spent the last three days checking every aspect of the boat and the crew are ready for the challenge. As a German crew we are used to the conditions of the Northern hemisphere, so the strong weather at the start is something we all respect but also know about.'
RORC member Peter Hopps, who has competed in every RORC Caribbean 600 and 12 Rolex Fastnet Races, will be sailing on Darren McLaughlin's Hanse 531, Saga.
'The crew are all charter guests and we have competed in three RORC races this season to qualify the team for the event. I doubt if we will be in the chocolates but for the Saga team winning is not the main goal. When we started the project, the main goal was to train well and complete this race and all of the crew have put a lot of time and effort into that aim. Having seen the weather forecast, there is not much that we will change, as we were always going to be prepared for anything. Personally, racing Saga is a bit of a throwback for me, we even have a freezer on board. My advice to the crew in rough weather is that you are bound to feel the effects. While being on deck or asleep in a bunk are the best places to avoid sea sickness, it is the time you spend transitioning between the two that can set things off.'
Ned Collier Wakefield is skipper of Class40, Concise 8. In 2010 Concise set a world record for the race for a yacht of this size. 'This 2014 race, the competition is much stronger so it will be a good test to see where we stand before our main event, the Route du Rhum, in November. The first 24 hours will be very uncomfortable. Concise 8 is not optimised for big seas upwind and the motion will be a problem. We will definitely be protecting the boat in those conditions and hoping that the wind direction becomes more favourable as the race goes on.'
The Skipper's Briefing for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race will take place this evening and will include a weather update for the start.