Altana Chieftain owner Ger O'Rourke confirms situation on Round Ireland race course as uphill struggle 4/7/06

The BMW Ireland Race that started last Saturday afternoon is turning into one of the slowest on record. Not only has the wind failed to establish itself sufficiently for the faster boats in the fleet to challenge for the current race record but the wind has continually shifted unfavourably creating, for many, a beat all the way.

Chatting to this afternoon from the Cookson 50 Altana Chieftain Ger O’Rourke confirmed the situation commenting: “I can’t believe we’ve been on the wind virtually all the way round so far. It’s also wet and cold! Normally you get a south/south-westerly up the west coast but we’ve had a northerly all the way up. We hoped to be able to enjoy a fun reach as we round Tory Island but guess what? The wind’s changing ready for our next beat!

“We only have 10 kts of breeze here at the moment and we’ve just had a forecast for our decent of the east coast from Belfast to Dublin and guess what? Light southerlies are forecast which means yet another beat. We never expected the race to take this long and many of my crew are frantically phoning their bosses asking for extra days off.”

Despite the pressures of the last few days O’Rouke says he can’t really complain. He took delivery of Altana Chieftain a year ago and has so far clocked up an impressive string of results including a win (with a race to spare) in the Super Zero class at the recently concluded IRC championship. The boat also won its class at the 2005 Sydney Hobart race. The plan now says O’Rouke, is to race Cork Week and then head to Cowes for the start of Round Britain and Ireland Race. “Can’t say I’m looking forward to another session round Ireland right now,” added O’Rouke, “but I’m sure it won’t be as painful as this.”

Also suffering in the light airs is Konica Minolta the boat most likely to have taken the record which Colm Barrington set in 1998 sailing the Volvo 60 Jeep Cherokee. Barrington’s time of 76 hours 23 minutes and 57 seconds means that Team Konica Minolta need to finish by 20.23.58 this evening to break the record.

The latest from the boat however, shows that having checked in at Inistrahull at 1012 today, Team Konica Minolta are in just 3 knots and against the tide which means Barrington’s time looks set to remain in the record books for another year.