In the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, Musandam-Oman Sail reached Out Stack, the rock north of Muckle Flugga and the most northerly part of the course, just before 1500 BST 12th August. The MOD 70, skippered by Sidney Gavignet, has about 46 hours to complete the remaining 1098 miles to set a new world record. Musandam-Oman Sail has averaged an astonishing 24 knots on a screaming reach up to the top of the course and needs to average the same, or better, on the way back down.
It seems that the wind gods are with them as the new breeze is from the North West and came in just as the trimaran turned for home. It looks like a reach all the way down the west coast of Scotland and Ireland and maybe, just maybe, Musandam-Oman Sail can beat the 2011 record set by Banque Populaire 5, which is twice as long as Musandam-Oman Sail.
Since the fleet left Cowes on Monday morning, the wind speed across the entire course has barely dropped below 25 knots and reports of over 40 knots of wind have been recorded by many competitors. The conditions have provided a full-on, proper wild ride but that has taken its toll with three retirements with all crew safe. The crews of Grey Power, Concise 8 and Cat Phone are all ashore and in good health. Austen Clark's Class40, Arwen has not officially retired but the yacht is safely tied up in Great Yarmouth and competitors on the race course have relayed that all of the crew are fine. Stella Nova has also retired from the race after sustaining structural damage after hitting a large wave. They are returning towards the Dutch Coast trying to protect the boat against any further damage. The coastguard are aware and keeping in close contact with the boat. The crew are all well.
The Volvo Ocean 65 fleet have been launched right from the start and the crews are also feeling a few knocks and bruises. Team Dongfeng's Pascal Bidegorry required stitches to a hand wound and one of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team has bruised ribs from a fall down below. A tremendous battle is raging between Azzam, skippered by Ian Walker, and Team Campos, skippered by Iker Martinez. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam has completed 18000 miles of training including two Atlantic crossings, whilst Iker Martinez and his team have literally only just started their campaign. Azzam has a six mile advantage over Team Campos but are several miles to weather, taking that into consideration. Azzam has a substantial lead heading towards Muckle Flugga, but the wind shadow of the Shetland Islands and the low pressure system, which is almost stationary at the top of the course, means that there could be some very funky weather as the two leaders round Out Stack tonight. (The media team hope to speak with Azzam skipper Ian Walker later this evening by satellite phone.)
Team Alvimedica, skippered by Charlie Enright, has found another gear and have caught up with Team Dongfeng to form a sparring partnership for third place. Meanwhile Team SCA leaked 30 miles yesterday and have found it hard to make that up in the One Design fleet. However, the weather ahead may give SCA some opportunities to get back at the leaders.
The main trophy and a $20,000 shipping voucher from Sevenstar Yacht Transport are up for grabs in IRC and the well-travelled Volvo 70 Monster Project, skippered by Andrew Budgen, has been in the driving seat for the last two updates. Monster Project is just 170 miles from Out Stack and still in the overall lead but the Volvo 70 has been slowing down in the last few hours, averaging about four knots less than her speed from the start. Just behind, Jens Kellinghusen's Ker 51, Varuna, has maintained her average speed of about 15 knots and is closing the time correction gap on Monster Project at virtually every tracker update. However, looking at the weather ahead, the forecast is for the breezy conditions to hold at the top of the course for at least another 24 hours which may favour Monster Project.
Brian Thompson's Artemis-Team Endeavour has lost boat speed since last night but their estimated finish time of four days, 20 hours, 54 minutes and 55seconds is well inside the IMOCA 60 record set in 2010 by the same yacht.
Ian Hoddle's Figaro II, Rare aiming to be the smallest yacht ever to complete the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race - Rick Tomlinson - RORC
Two yachts in IRC Two have made big gains today in terms of corrected time under IRC: Ross Applebey's Oyster 48, Scarlet Logic, and Ian Hoddle's Figaro II, Rare. Both yachts have averaged well over nine knots since the start of the race and are now fourth and fifth overall. Scarlet Logic is winning IRC Two and is estimated to finish the race six days quicker than the 2010 winner, Harry Heijst's S&S 41, Winsome. Rare are top of the Two-Handed Class and should they complete the course, will be the smallest yacht ever to complete the race.
'We are racing for the CLIC Sargent Charity; my five year old nephew James was diagnosed in January with an inoperable brain tumour and is undergoing intensive radiotherapy treatment at Southampton General Hospital,' commented Rare skipper, Ian Hoddle, before the race. 'Myself and Conrad (Manning), my team mate, hope to raise as much money as we can to help the charity. James came down to the boat before we started and he loves being on board. As we go around the course, I know that there will be times when it gets tough, maybe too much for us to take, but at those times I will think about James and that will give me the strength to dig a little bit deeper and get through that moment.' Event website