With the worst June storm to hit Scotland in 100 years behind them, competitors are looking forward to more favourable conditions for the next leg to Lowestoft …

With the worst June storm to hit Scotland in 100 years behind them, competitors are looking forward to more favourable conditions for the next leg to Lowestoft ? Ross Hobson, skipper of Netergy.com Challenge (Mollymawk) writes:

“Legs 2 and 3 are over and we are now on the homeward run.

The 2nd leg from Cork to Barra was initially a beat, but then the wind dropped just as Netergy.Com Challenge came across Mizzen Head in the mist. Being only 300m offshore, Andi and Ross almost had to drop the anchor to prevent themselves being swept too close.

Fortunately the wind filled in and Netergy headed around the bottom of Ireland turning northwards on a reach up the west coast. The chase was on to catch Meridian and Branec III.

The almost constant rain and drizzle made the trip very wet with the weather only finally letting up as they approached Barra Head in the Outer Hebrides.

With the wind dropping and in a bumpy sea the crew managed to wrap the big head sail around the forestay ripping it beyond simple repair. Netergy arrived in second place having reduced Meridian’s 4 hour lead to only 1hour 20 mins, with Branec III well behind.

At this stage all was looking well until the forecast arrived. The worst storm in June for 100 years was about to hit the west coast of Scotland and everyone became very concerned for those boats still at sea.

The weather in Castlebay, Barra was horrendous. With a Force 10 blowing, the fleet had to ride out winds gusting in excess of 70 knots. It became obvious that to set out on the 3rd leg would have been irresponsible and Netergy stayed at her uncomfortable anchor for a further 30 hours past her due departure time.

Branec III was first to brave the weather, leaving at midnight, with Netergy and Meridian having to watch her go as it was unsafe for the trimarans to attempt to leave the anchorage. 10 hours later Netergy crossed the starting line, 30mins behind Meridian.

A wild beat into a Force 8 gale ensued for the next 3 hours as the boat slammed her way south to Barra Head, finally being freed for the blast reach out to St Kilda at over 20 knots, passing Merdian with total ease.

The next 200 miles was a matter of survival in big 4 metre plus seas as the boat surfed down them, out of control at times, towards Muckle Flugga, Shetlands. During this time Merdian was dismasted.

Netergy passed Muckle Flugga, the most northerly point in the UK, at 1000 on the 2nd day leaving a 50 mile beat to Lerwick.

Unfortunately, during the wild ride to Muckle Flugga, the headsail furler had become damaged preventing Ross and Andi setting the jib and they had to struggle to reach Lerwick.

Arriving at 0931 on 19th June in 2nd place was a great boost to morale which was made even better to find that despite the conditions Netergy had taken 4 hours off Branec III.

Lerwick has been a time of frantic activity on the boat, repairing sails and furling gear and getting damaged sails off to fit replacement ones.

The lads are now ready for the next leg of 470 miles to Lowestoft and with favourable winds forecast the possibility of catching Branec III looks good.”