List of retirements grows as heavy upwind weather takes its toll 11/8/06

Another night of heavy, upwind conditions topping 25 knots and a vicious seaway up the west coast of Ireland have taken their toll on the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race fleet with several competitors suffering gear damage and the enforced retirement of two yachts, Night Owl and Aquis Granus.

Ed Hall’s Prima 38, Night Owl, has been forced to retire with problems not only to their fuel injector pump but more seriously to their reefing tack. A jury rigged solution seemed to have been working but with over 1,200 miles left to run in the race, the skipper took the decision of ‘safety first’ and elected to retire as he explains:

“The main problem remains the reefing tack problem. The solution with stainless steel racing hanks and spectra has held for 130 miles and through 35 knot winds, but the spectra has started to part, and the hanks have started to bend. The angle of the tack is wrong and we are risking tearing the whole sail to pieces if we continue. With only six crew to cope with any problems and several hundred miles still to beat up Ireland in moderate to strong winds, the only sensible and safe option is to retire. It’s a great disappointment to all of us, but I’m sure that it’s best to stop now before we put ourselves and the boat in a potentially dangerous and certainly damaging situation. Everyone has asked me to say thank you for following our progress and sending messages of support. We are going to the pub now. We might be some time?”

On Robert Rohde’s Lutra 52, Aquis Granus, a problem with their mainsail has caused them to head back for the shelter of Cork. An e-mail back from the boat announced their retirement stating: “Due to several major cuts in the upper part of the mainsail, we decided to retire from the race. The cuts are of such size and nature, that we cannot repair them with the material we have on board. Everything is fine, apart from the obvious frustration and our next destination is Cork.”

Meanwhile on Global Yacht Racing EH01, the ten girls who are all raising money for their charity Sail 4 Cancer, have reached Crosshaven to effect repairs on their broken D3 shroud. Spirits are still very high onboard despite the ‘fingernail break tally’ rising daily and this gutsy crew are looking forward to their long beat up the west coast of Ireland if they get going again.

At the front of the fleet, Jonny Malbon’s Artemis Ocean Racing continues to stretch her lead with sheets cracked for a long port leg to the Shetland Islands whilst the majority of the fleet are reporting fantastic wildlife sightings including basking sharks, turtles, dolphins and all manner of birdlife. Artemis Ocean Racing currently has just over 980 miles left to the finish and will be looking forward to hoisting a spinnaker and unleashing the full potential of this potent Open 60. In the predicted corrected times stakes, Kingspan-Chieftain of Ger O’Rourke is looking good for IRC Division A and still lies third on the water whilst Noonmark VI, Magnum II, Sevenstar Winsome and Changeling are all holding their own in Divisions B to E. Conditions are expected to continue being at the upper end of the scale with winds from the north-west still predominating throughout the weekend.