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7 June 2004, 03:02 pm
Past Muckle Flugga
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Round Britain And Ireland Challenge
Round Britain and Ireland

The eight yachts in the Round Britain and Ireland Challenge have now rounded Muckle Flugga, the furthest most tip of the British Isles and have started their race down the East Coast and towards home.
The cat and mouse game between BP Explorer and her nearest rival Team Seven seems relentless and neither is prepared to give an inch away. In third place is Kunachi, skippered by Amedeo SORRENTINO, whose wife gave birth early to their first-born - a son - during the race, which is obviously driving his team on!

In fourth place is Barclays Adventurer and then the pack of SAIC, Besso, Save the Children and The Firm are all moving in fast, having found the winds first with the high pressure over the UK.

There's still a long way to go in the race and anything could happen. The crews now have to look forward to slaloming through the oilrigs of the North Sea, described in the last race as looming out the water like giant Christmas trees.

It is during this point that the tide could run at speeds of up to 4 knots, creating a 'Tidal Gate'. Catching the Tide correctly here could provide an opportunity for yachts at the back to catch up with those at the front, or those in front to extend their lead.

Further south as the vessels approach the Thames Estuary and another Tidal Gate at Dover, together with sailing close to the Traffic Separation Schemes, means plenty of challenging Navigation for the crews.

Once through the Dover Strait - the vessels then head back out into the English Channel - If the wind blows from the West, like it did with last year's race - the fleet will again split as they all look for the favourable tack - providing an opportunity to shake up the order of the fleet substantially.

The immediate challenge for the teams to face is the lack of wind, which will becalm the whole fleet during the next couple of days. Fingers crossed the teams will actually be in before the prize giving ceremony starts on Saturday night!

Full positions are available on the event website at the address below.
Rachel Anning
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