On the eve of the start of the Sevenstar RBI, the race committee gathered together all the 28 participants for a final briefing. Organised under the aegis of the legendary RORC, presided over by the excellent sailor Eddie Warden Owen, the Round Britain and Ireland fleet will race anti-clockwise around the British Isles due to a very deep depression coming in from the Atlantic, generating winds in excess of 50 knots in the Irish Sea.
If we weren’t in England, it is highly likely that the race start would have been delayed to give the depression time to roll over the top of us. However, we are in England. As such the start will take place in due course. Indeed the only evidence of a mainland development is the direction of the course, which has been modified so as to avoid needlessly exposing the smallest twelve metre boats to the storm’s whims
As far as the rest of the race is concerned, nothing has changed: “It is down to each skipper to decide whether or not to take the start of the race”.
Questioned about the change of course, Groupama 70′s navigator had this to say: “This decision doesn’t come as a surprise to us, especially as regards the smallest boats, who would have taken a real hammering around Fastnet with 50 knots of breeze. It’s a lot of wind, added to which the sea state would also have been very bad. By switching the direction of the course, they’ll be spared”. President of the RORC, Eddie Warden Owen echoes this viewpoint: “The Sevenstar is a difficult race as you’re constantly sailing close to the coast and there are numerous changes in heading. Those sailors competing in the race are also here to enjoy themselves and get to the finish, not to break their boats…”.
A breezy start
Whilst a downpour is expected over the Isle of Wight tonight, it’s windy conditions which will prevail at 1400 hours local time on Monday: “We’ll be setting off in around thirty knots of SW’ly wind. We’ll be moving at quite a lick as we’ll be sailing downwind” explains Jean-Luc Nélias
In the meantime the ten men making up the Groupama Team will have to choose the fifteen sails they’ll be carrying aboard the boat during this short week of sailing: “We’ll be racing in line with the regulations for the next Volvo. As such we’ll have to choose which sails to embark and, given the switch in the direction of the course, we’re looking at things in a new light now. We’re going to review the situation with Franck and Laurent Pagès this evening” concludes the navigator, who is expecting a difficult race: “We’re climbing up as far as 61° North. Though the nights will be short, it will be bitterly cold. It should take just a week if all goes well”.
Crew of Groupama 70
1.Franck Cammas, skipper
2. Jean-Luc Nélias, navigator
3. Laurent Pagès, watch leader
4. Magnus Woxen, watch leader
5. Charles Caudrelier, trimmer
6. Erwan Israël, trimmer, under 30 years of age
7. Martin Strömberg, trimmer and pitman, under 30 years of age
8. Sébastien Marsset, trimmer and pitman, under 30 years of age
9. Mike Pammenter, bowman, under 30 years of age
10. Martin Krite, bowman, under 30 years of age
11. Yann Riou, media crew
About the race:
• Distance to cover: 1,802 nautical miles
• Direction of the course: clockwise
• Best race time since 1976: Artemis (IMOCA 60) in 7 days and 4 hours
• Largest of this year’s boats: ICAP Leopard measuring 30 metres
• Smallest of this year’s boats: Arethusa measuring 10.9 metres
• Number of VORs competing: 2
• Start: Cowes, Monday 23 August 2010 at 14:00
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