This year’s Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race was a wild one from the very start—which was postponed 21 hours to allow Tropical Storm Bertha, a low-pressure system packing 50-knot gusts, to pass through before the fleet jumped off. After that, conditions were perfect, albeit grueling, as the fleet tore its way counter-clockwise for 1,800 miles from Cowes, England, then up around Scotland, where it doubled Muckle Flugga light in the Shetlands before heading back around Ireland and then up the English Channel to Cowes.
Among those reveling in the epic conditions was the MOD 70 Musandam-Oman Sail, which set a new course record of 3 days, 3 hours, 32 minutes, besting the previous mark set by the maxi-tri, Banque Populaire 5, by a nail-biting 16 minutes.
“I didn’t think this was possible, but we had exceptional conditions and a boat with amazing potential,” said skipper Sidney Gavignet. “[Previous record holder] Loïck [Peyron] phoned me after we crossed the line to say congratulations. He is a gentleman and someone I really respect as a sailor and a person, but I know he will want his record back!”
Also setting a new monohull record was Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s VOR 65 Azzam, one of five VOR teams taking part as a run-up to the Volvo Ocean Race itself. Azzam completed the course in 4 days, 13 hours, 10 minutes, chopping over 30 hours off the previous record, set by the VOR70 Groupama in 2010.
Among those who did not fare so well was Sir Robin Knox-Johnston aboard the Open 60 Grey Power, who is training for next month’s 3,500-mile Route de Rhum transatlantic race. Grey Power was apparently surfing along at speeds in the 20s when her mainsail split between the second and third reefs. For complete results, visit roundbritainandireland.rorc.org.
Photo courtesy of Oman Sail/Mark Lloyd