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Thirty-two teams get set for Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race 2022

by Louay Habib 3 Aug 07:51 PDT 7 August 2022
Paul Larsen, Nick Bubb, Kevin George and Ben Schwartz will all be on board Pip Hare's IMOCA Medallia (GBR) for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race © Richard Langdon

The Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race starts at midday on Sunday 7th August. Thirty-two teams from around the world will be racing, equalling the record entry for the non-stop version of the tough 1,805nm race.

Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club every four years since 1976, it has been a non-stop unassisted race since 2006. In this modern version of the race, 78 teams have achieved the honour of finishing, 39 have failed.

The 2022 edition features 120 professional and corinthian sailors from 14 different nations, including four female skippers and seven crew under the age of 21. The overall winner will be decided by the best corrected time under the IRC Rating Rule and will be awarded the John Illingworth Trophy. IRC Classes will have individual trophies.

IMOCA Class

Two foiling IMOCAs will be gunning for Line Honours and the Monohull 60ft or less Race Record set by Artemis - Team Endeavour, skippered by Brian Thompson. (2014: 5 days 14:00:54). The outright Monohull Course Record was set by Volvo 70 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker (2014: 4 days 13:10:28).

Pip Hare's IMOCA Medallia is the former Bureau Vallée, third in the last Vendée Globe sailed by Louis Burton. As Banque Populaire it won the 2016 race in the hands of Armel Le Cleach. Pip Hare's Medallia will be racing with a stellar crew: Watch leader Paul Larsen with Nick Bubb, and Kevin George. In 2021, Pip Hare became the 8th woman to finish the Vendée Globe, taking just over 90 days.

"For me, the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race is one of the greatest races in the world," commented Pip Hare. "It is challenging, tactical and the weather is difficult with multiple systems, plus there are all those hazards and tides in the North Sea. There is absolutely everything packed into quite a small course. I am really looking forward to doing this race as a team. It's new for me but they are all really good people that I can learn from and keep developing the performance of Medallia."

Medallia's main rival is Oliver Ocean Heer Racing. Swiss skipper Oliver Heer lives in Hamble UK and has a British crew: Two-time Volvo Ocean Race navigator Libby Greenhalgh, Figaro sailor Patrick Hutchings and on-board reporter Patrick Condy. Originally built for Loick Peyron as Gitana 80, the Farr design has completed four Vendée Globes. This will be Oliver Heer's third Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, including winning overall on Giles Redpath's Lombard 46 Pata Negra in 2018.

IRC Two-Handed

Over half the entries will be racing double-handed. A record 17 teams in IRC Two-Handed will challenge for the Rebel Maid Trophy and the overall win. Sailors racing Two-Handed come from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Poland and the USA. The largest entry racing double-handed is the Open 50 Pegasus of Northumberland, skippered by Ross Hobson with Jonathan McColl.

Four Sun Fast 3300 will be competing, including Fastrak XII (Nigel Colley & David Bowdler) and Wild Pilgrim (Daniel Jones & Jon Tyrrell). Chilli Pepper will be racing with the father and daughter team of Jim and Ellie Driver.

Two of Britain's most accomplished sailors will race the Sun Fast 3300 Rockit: Six-time circumnavigator Dee Caffari is the most experienced sailor in this year's edition, taking part in her fifth race having set two world records. Dee's partner for the race will be Shirley Robertson; the first British woman to win an Olympic gold medal at consecutive games. Shirley will be taking part in her first Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, but achieved success racing Two-Handed with Henry Bomby in Sun Fast 3300 Swell: Line Honours and second overall in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race for IRC Two-Handed.

"The course is full of obstacles and challenges. It is really testing and that is the attraction of the race," commented Dee Caffari. "The first part is really good sailing in open water; the enjoyable part, but then you get the stress. You get more tired when you reach the top of the course at Muckle Flugga. After that you come down the North Sea, scattered with oil rigs, wind farms, sand banks and shipping lanes. The pressure is really on when you are really tired, and probably a bit frustrated. It is no wonder that everyone finishes really broken. This race is all about management at multiple levels: management of yourself, your teammate and the boat."

Four Sun Fast 3600s will be racing, including Gavin Howe & Maggie Adamson on Tigris. Gavin completed the race with Sam Cooper on Tigris in 2018, talking just over 12 days, Stephen Berry and Will Best will be racing Marco Polo for the first time, undoubtedly flying the Welsh Red Dragon! Rob Craigie & Deb Fish on Bellino are one of the most experienced Two-Handed entries and will be ranked as one of the favourites for the class. This will be Bellino's first Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, but Rob and Deb have competed in 20 Fastnets between them and have won IRC Two-Handed for the RORC Season's Points Championship in 2017, 2019 and 2021.

A highly experienced short-handed sailor will be taking part in his first race: Nick Martin has been racing Two-Handed for decades, including nine Rolex Fastnet races in the discipline. Nick will be racing Diablo with Scotland's Calanach Finlayson. The team is leading IRC Two for the RORC Season and second in IRC Two-Handed.

"We're really looking forward to our first-ever challenge of this iconic race around our amazing Great Britain and Ireland," commented Nick Martin."The 1,805nm distance is far greater than the 700nm we completed in last year's Rolex Fastnet Race. The duration is therefore a key challenge, as will be the notorious seas we'll encounter. I think Muckle Flugga on the northern tip of the Shetlands will be a unique experience following a lengthy leg up the Atlantic. I'm just hoping the boat preparation and provisioning will stand us in good stead."

Richard Palmer's JPK 10.10 Jangada has been one of the stars of the RORC Two-Handed racing circuit, winning 2020 RORC Yacht of the Year and the overall winner of the RORC Transatlantic Race. However, this will be the first Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race for Richard and his co-skipper Rupert Holmes. Jangada is the overall leader for the RORC Season's Points Championship and must be considered one of the favourites for the race.

Sam White and Sam North will be racing JPK 1080 Mzungu! The pair have been friends for over 20 years and have huge experience, but this is their first season in the new boat. Allegedly, the two only started racing together after a conversation on a stag do in Lake Garda!

From USA, Charlene Howard is racing Sun Odyssey 45 AJ Wanderlust Two-Handed with Robert Drummond. Charlene is believed to be the only women to have completed the race sailing Two-Handed. This year, five more women will attempt to achieve that accolade.

From France, Marc Dubos will race Akilaria 40 La Rochelle Nautique with Jean-Luc Schoch. From Belgium, Roel Ysewyn will race Grande Soleil 40 Gente di Mare with Tom Jonghe. From Poland, Kuba Szymanski will race First 40.7 Polished Manx II with Adrian Kucmin and from Germany, Dirk Lahmann will race Peterson 43 Snifix Dry with Wilhelm Demel.

Class40 Rockets

Six Class40s will be racing for the Lekeitio Cup and the race record for a monohull 40ft or less which was set by Imerys Clean Energy, skippered by Phil Sharp (2018: 8 days 04:14:49).

Sailors racing in the Class40 Division come from France, Great Britain, Ireland, Spain and the USA. Antoine Magre's Palanad 3 can be counted as one of the favourites, but will have stiff opposition. Greg Leonard's Kite has Vendée Globe sailors Mike Golding and Miranda Merron on board. Tquila will be skippered by the record-breaking Brian Thompson. Andrea Fornaro's Italian Class 40 Influence is the latest design in the race from VPLP and Ireland's Pamela Lee will be on board.

Full Passion - Fully Crewed

A huge variety of boats will be competing in the race with a full complement of crew. The largest in the race is Marie Tabarly's famous French 73ft ketch Pen Duick VI, which was built for her father Eric Tabarly to compete in the first Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973. Fifty years after Pen Duick VI was commissioned, Marie continues to sail Pen Duick VI with adventures in Patagonia and Iceland, with the boat logging over 300,000 miles. The Pen Duick VI crew includes Vendée Globe success Alexia Barrier.

At the other end of the size-scale, Stuart Greenfield will be racing his S&S 34 Morning After which leads the RORC Season for IRC Four by a huge margin. Morning After will be raced with Stuart's regular Two-Handed crew, Louise Clayton, with the addition of RORC Admiral Mike Greville and Frederick Neville-Jones.

From Denmark, Michael Møllmann will skipper the Elliott 35 Palby Marine. Two German teams will be racing fully crewed; Christoph Tschernischen's JV53 Bank von Bremen with an SKWB crew, and Christian Heermann will skipper an HSV crew on JV52 Haspa Hamburg. The British Army has a long history of racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the next chapter will be written by the Army Sailing Association's Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier. Phil Caswell will be skipper of a team of seven.

Track the fleet at the event website

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