The Royal Air Force team complete Leg 2 of the Shetland Round Britain and Ireland Race aboard the RAF J/109 Red Arrow 20/6/06

The Royal Air Force team – Flight Lieutenants Marcus Wilson and Richard Steel – competing in the Shetland Round Britain and Ireland Race aboard the RAF J/109 Red Arrow have completed the second leg of the race and are currently lying third overall in Class 2.

They are now in Castlebay, Barra preparing for Leg 3 to Lerwick and are scheduled to leave this afternoon. Here’s their latest report?

Kinsale – what a fabulous place to visit and what a wonderful welcome from the Kinsale Yacht Club. It’s a shame we were only there for 48 hours. Those precious hours passed too quickly, but did include a superb barbeque organised by two of the other competitors and most of the crews were in port and able to fully enjoy it. I must admit I got slightly sidetracked into an evening club race, but it was a lovely sunny evening and when the commodore of the host club asked for a volunteer – well, how could Red Arrow refuse.

A windless restart from Kinsale led to an incredibly frustrating few miles out to the Old Head of Kinsale and it wasn’t until before we turned right for the Fastnet – and started paddling? The breeze slowly filled in and a small whale blowing nearby livened the trip to the bottom corner of this leg. The spinnaker work was frustrating and we were working hard with another couple of larger boats in sight to encourage us.

More wind as we passed the western most point on the race and a slight moment of drama as we unfurled the headsail in preparation for a kite drop only to see our lovely genoa fall to the deck and over the side. That took a while to sort out – as did the spinnaker wrap which developed as we were recovering it.

The trip across the top left corner of Ireland was superb with over 16 knots on the clock as we picked up wave after wave to surf but eventually it was time for the spinnaker to come down for a fetch up to Barra during which we fell into the biggest wind hole ever and we covered the last 20 hours at about 3 knots. Very disappointing although there were some comedy moments watching a small bird try very hard to land on Red Arrow to hitch a ride.

Our final headsail change for the leg found us both on the foredeck as a family of porpoise danced and played all around us and the breeze continued to die away until we ghosted across the line. Not as good a leg as the first and it was a real pleasure to be able to hand in our declaration to the Royal Western race officer.