Big winds are causing havoc among race yachts rafted in Lerwick and restarts are delayed


*** Update @ 1033: the race director has had to rescind a decision to delay restart of race in light of severe Gale 9 in North Sea tomorrow. This was challenged by a couple of skippers wishing to go to sea and race rules do not support a delay. The leading 32ft trimaran is about to leave at 1105 ***


 The Coastguard and RNLI had to be called in the early hours today to help tow to safety some of the leading 30 boats at the Lerwick stopover of the Shetland Round Britain & Ireland Race.

Around 20 people from the Coastguard, the RNLI and the Lerwick Boating Club have been working with RIBs since 0400 to take boats to a marina a mile the north of the town, while those left are still being pounded against the dock in the main harbour. There has been quite a bit of superficial damage and skipper Alex Bennett reports possible structural damage to his Class 40 Fujifilm, which was at the inside of a raft of six yachts.

The fleet was directed by the Lerwick harbourmaster to berth in Albert Dock, one of the few places able to accommodate a fleet of over 50 yachts. As yachts arrived they have rafted in turn, with larger yachts in some cases outside smaller ones.

Albert Dock is open to the north and as the wind continues to increase the effort to get boats out of the harbour goes on. The forecast is for the wind to increase from the north to up over 40 knots today.

To complicate matters, everyone’s 48-hour stopover begins from the time they arrive, so the skippers on the inside of the rafts will be the first to leave. These boats are still taking the worst pounding and somehow have to be extricated in order to leave this afternoon.


Below is a quick video snippet of the fleet this morning. The rafts have been reduced to two- or three-deep, but as you can see it will be quite a job getting the inside boats off the dock. They are exactly beam on to the wind.