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18 October 2005, 01:16 pm
SAIC Takes The Lead
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Round Britain And Ireland Challenge 2005

The yachts competing in the Round Britain And Ireland Challenge are making good speed now, around the tip of Southern Ireland and up the west coast of the emerald isle, having passed Waypoint Alpha, a mark they have had to race round to keep them away from the Irish fishing nets.
Des HARVEY may have been a little too confident yesterday about striding into the lead as Spirit of Sark has now fallen to second place and Martin WILD's team aboard SAIC have picked up the baton and taken a three mile lead.

Me to You have charged into third place, following what Samsung called a, 'considerable drama over the last 24 hours.' Yesterday mate Ricky CHALMER had to rush into action as the yacht broached leading to a broken spinnaker pole. Skipper Will OTTON picks up the story this morning, 'Some important equipment had been damaged which may effect our chances later on, especially in light airs. After sitting around talking to the crew and having a cup of tea we came over all 'can do' and positive. Four hours later with the help of some 2x2 timber, four poles from the pipe cot bunks, lots of gaffer tape, two baking trays and some cutlery the whole crew were delighted with their handywork. A FUNCTIONING (but not pretty) spinnaker pole.'

The same as been reported from aboard Pindar, 'The breeze picked up steadily, and we made excellent progress with the full main and heavy spinnaker, achieving over 16 knots of boat speed at one point. However, the wind continued to increase and suddenly it was too much for the spinnaker. An 'all hands' call went out, and when we broached we managed to save the sail. The same cannot, however, be said for the pole, which fell victim to a freak gust and shattered against the forestay. It is small comfort for us to know that others have had similar difficulties.

'It is not all bad news. We may not be leading, but we are now making excellent progress, changing headsails and reefs to keep up with the varying wind speeds.'

Mate, Adam TUFFNELL concluded saying, 'It has been one sail change followed by another, along with some rather speedy kite packs.'

Cal TOMLINSON, Challenge Business' Sailing Manager explains what is happening onboard whilst flying sails the size of tennis courts, 'This damage might sound alarming (and it is) but it's due to the heavy downwind sailing conditions necessitating the deployment of the spinnaker (and associated equipment such as the spinnaker poles to keep the sails 'poled out').

'These huge sails are made from cloth a quarter that of conventional sails - (making them extremely delicate), and are flown attached only by their three corners, (making them difficult to control) as opposed to the length of the edges.

'Part of the skill with flying spinnakers is knowing when enough is enough and it's time to execute a bit of cowardice and take them down.'

The lead yacht SAIC look like they are getting it right, as Crew Volunteer Lesley MARCHANT explains, 'The scariest thing we've done so far? A call for 'ALL HANDS ON DECK!' to assist with a rapid spinnaker drop with the boat heeling (leaning over) at what felt like 90 degrees! Of course it was all controlled and part of yacht racing, but for first timers it was a bit of an adrenaline rush. Not least for Rob, our 'spike man', who was hoisted out on the end of the pole above the sea and was left dangling whilst the sail came down.'

Rachel Anning. Image, Leaders SAIC:© Challenge Business
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