A 610-mile singlehanded match race?

 04 July 2016

Observers of the race tracker could almost be forgiven for thinking the relentless nature of this single-handed race is far more effective at identifying the overall winners than any rating system. Today, the lead on the water has been held consistently by a Class 2 boat, Louis-Marie Dussere’s French JPK10.10 Raging Bee.

However in terms of distance to the finish, at 1500 this afternoon Ian Hoddle’s Sunfast 3600 Game On! was only two miles behind and a further six teams are within 10 miles of Hoddle. These front-runners are now almost half way across the Celtic Sea on their way out to the Fastnet Rock, where the fleet will compress together again.

After the brutal first 24 hours, in which many boats reported winds of more than 35 knots, last night saw a complete contrast, with the fleet becalmed for hours. The front runners had favourable tide that whisked them clear of Lizard Point, but the slower boats in class 3 were not so fortunate.

Charles Emmett (Sigma 36, British Beagle) reported: “Yesterday proved to be a very bad day for me, after a really good first night. Becalmed in the afternoon, losing substantial ground to the fleet leaders and I just missed the tidal gate at the Lizard. With winds dying to nothing, I went backwards for four hours, only finally getting enough wind to move again at 0500 this morning.”

Not long afterwards, Jeremy Waitt (JPK10.10, Jangada) and Deb Fish (Sunfast 3200, Exocet) crossed only a couple of lengths apart off the Scilly Islands. “Just rounded the Lands End TSS, busy cooking a bacon sandwich, whilst hoisting the code 0 and having to duck Jangada. This is proving to be a very long match race,” Fish reported.

After a punishing 48 hours, there are now 23 boats left in the race, with most retirements caused by pilot or battery/charging problems. Neil Payter on the Yamaha 33 Solent One reports that he knocked a tooth out in the big waves of the first day and is on a liquid [soup!] diet. He is currently still around 20 miles to the east of the Lizard peninsula, but is determined to finish no matter what.

The wind is forecast to build this evening to around 20 knots. As it does so it will back into the north-west, turning the rest of the leg to across the Celtic Sea into a full beat. It will back further to the north-northwest tomorrow morning, reducing to 10-12 knots. 

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After more than 40 hours of solo racing Deb Fish’s Sunfast 3200 Exocet ducks the stern of Jeremy Waitt’s JPK10.10 Jangada. Photo: Jeremy Waitt