Leading skippers in the Shetland RB&I race prepare for a severe gale Force 9

Despite a severe gale Force 9 forecast in the North Sea tomorrow, leaders of the Shetland Round Britain & Ireland Race Will Claxton and Matt Gill left Lerwick today. The pair are sailing a 33ft catamaran, Paradox, and are after several near capsizes in the race so far took the precaution of taking four car tyres to use as drogues (Will explains in the video clip below).

The forecast is for increasing winds from the north with mean windspeeds of 35-40 knots. More concerning are sea state forecasts varying from a swell of 4m to 12m in one forecast.

Claxton and Gill are obviously worried about the risk of pitchpoling. On the first leg of the race, which was fast downwind in around 25 knots of wind, the pair buried all three bows up to the forehatch and nearly cartwheeled the little trimaran on another occasion.


 Drogues Paradox

Their difficulty will be preventing the boat surfing too fast in the shorter seas likely in the North Sea. Speaking to them this morning, it was fairly clear they were…well, bricking it.

The boat was towed off the dock by two RIBs.

The Royal Western YC race director, Peter Taylor, this morning considered delaying the race by a day and making a three-day stop mandatory for all crews, but now that the race is in progress this option isn’t possible.

There was an impromptu meeting of Class 40 skippers this morning to see if a delay could be agreed amongst themselves. From what I understand, most were happy to wait and let the worst of the gale pass, but at least one skipper is keen to leave at his restart time this afternoon.

The little video below is of Will Claxton describing his heavy weather preparations and of the boys in Paradox being towed off the dock this morning.