Nick Bubb and Pete Cumming cross the Kinsale Round Britain and Ireland finish line in fourth 13/6/06

Nick Bubb reports on the first leg of the Shetland Round Britain and Ireland Race aboard the 30ft trimaran Kenmore. Bubb sailing with teammate Pete Cumming finished a creditable fourth across the line in Kinsale.

After several months of training and preparation Pete and I were very keen to get away well and show the fleet we were up for it. With an eight knot south easterly we started on time at 1200.

With HMS Bangor acting as the committee boat for the day, taking into account her wind shadow was a crucial part of the start line tactics. We easily made the best of it and crossed the line first doing about 9 knots, our lead was fairly short lived though as Pete Goss and Paul Larsen showed the large spectator fleet exactly what their SeaCart can do. She is the latest 30 ft trimaran designed by Marc Lombard and built by Tornado legends Marstrom up in Sweden.

Her construction is all pre-preg carbon and nomex and she weighs in at around 900 Kgs (roughly half that of Kenmore). Totally untouchable in under 15 knots she is more than a handful in big breeze and it will take all their combined experience to keep her the right way up throughout the race! They blasted over the top of us to pass the breakwater first but we held off Waverider a 45 tri and Alacrity a 50 ft tri to pass 2nd.

It was upwind to the Eddystone and with the breeze already dropping and a big swell we had a painful 10 miles with the bigger boats using their additional waterline length well to pass us just before the rock. We rounded almost on top of the rocks (so much for our conservative approach!) before heading off downwind towards the Scilly Isles.

During the early part of the night the breeze came mainly from the east and we had a lot of fog and drizzle which resulted in us having a few close up views of several ships! Anyway with a bit of rowing and a lot careful manoeuvring around the clouds that we could see, we made it into the fresh westerly which was to build for the rest of the leg.

As we rounded Bishop’s Rock, just south west of the Scilly’s, at around 0900, we saw that our hard work during the night had paid off and we were well ahead of both the big tris in 2nd. The SeaCart was already well across the Irish Sea. With a fairly flat sea and 15 knots we were off and quickly disappeared over the horizon.

As the breeze built to over 20 knots and the waves became bigger we had to first reef the mainsail and then the solent. With boat speed between 15 and 20 knots we were going well but the big tris overhauled us around 40 miles from the finish. They powered past with full sail up and looking in considerable more comfort than us who by this stage were more under water than on it.

Determined to hold on to them and keep 2nd on corrected time, we had a slightly nervous last few hours, dipping the bows a few more times than we’d have liked. We were holding a steady 18 knots when out of no where with no chance to avoid it, we piled into a wooden pallet. Fortunately it hit the leeward float which was partially submerged so the damage was high up.

With it being far too dangerous to inspect let alone repair we carried on as if nothing had happened. The next issue was the water pressure on the leeward float had peeled back part of the solar panel which is bonded on there. Again any work on that float is totally impossible at high speed so we hoped it would stay on long enough for us to finish and pressed on.

We crossed the finish line at 1846, 30 minutes behind Alacrity and 20 minutes behind Waverider. Amazingly Alacrity has a fairly similar rating to us despite being nearly twice as big and on corrected we are 11 minutes behind her in third but well ahead of Paradox another 30 ft trimaran who was fifth home three hours later and is fourth on corrected time. The rest of the fleet has slowly started to arrive but with the wind dropping it will be a while before all forty boats are in.

We crossed the Irish Sea at an average of just under 15 knots, or to put into context a 24 hour run of over 350 miles. This was not in ideal conditions either, as for most of this part of the leg we had to back off slightly to keep the bows in front of us (Kenmore has a tendency to try to flip if you trip into the back of waves at too high a speed, it’s not easy to watch all three hulls at the same time).

A 400-mile day is certainly within us if the conditions are right, what we really need is flat water and 15 to 20 knots at an angle of about 60 degrees. Not bad for a 30 ft boat that was designed in the late 80s!

Anyway we are off again on Wednesday at 1846 (48 hours after we arrived) and are determined to quickly catch back the 30 minutes on Alacrity to regain 2nd on the water. We will stay in touch with all the news on leg two as we go round to the west of Ireland and head up to the island of Barra just over 440 miles away