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11 June 2002, 09:38 am
Meridian First Into Cork, but Many Forced to Retire
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The Route

Round Britain and Ireland Race

13 boats have been forced to retire from the total entry of 38 on the first stage to Cork, Ireland of the Round Britain and Ireland Race.
Among those who have been forced to retire are 'Spirit of England', skippered by Sir Robin Knox Johnston, and the all women team on QII, Becky Walford and Mary Faulk.

The first finishers in Cork last night, and in the early hours of this morning were at 23:00 hours on the 10 June the 30ft trimaran 'Meridian', followed three hours later by the 40ft trimaran 'Molly Mawk', and third in was 'Roaring Fourty', the class 3 winner in 1998, who have since retired from the race.

The boats making it to Cork will spend 48 hours there before setting off on the next leg to Barra, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The leading boats are expected to make it back to the finish at the Royal Western Yacht Club, in Cornwall, England in around 20 days time.

The Duke of Edinburgh started the Royal Western Yacht Club's Round Britain and Ireland race on 9 June in the Club's 175th Anniversary year. 2002 also marks the 50th Anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh's patronage of the Club.

About the Race and Some of the Entries

A more varied test of pure seamanship than its transatlantic counterparts the Round Britain and Ireland Race has drawn the top names in ocean sailing. Traditionally when the weather deteriorates the sailor stands offshore in deeper water. This is not possible when the course is round Great Britain. With our changes of weather and large tidal ranges the race is accepted as a unique 2000 mile challenge to the shorthanded sailor.

Established in 1966 by Blondie Haslar the event is held every four years, starting and finishing in Plymouth. There are four compulsory stops of forty eight hours at Crosshaven, Barra, Lerwick and Lowestoft, providing the opportunity for competitors to rest, make repairs and socialise. The hospitality in these ports is legendary.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston,' the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world, has teamed up with William Foster, the American owner of Spirit, ex Spirit of England, a 40-foot trimaran, and set sail on this year's Two Handed Round Britain and Ireland Race.

Bob Beggs, winning skipper of Clipper Ventures' most recent Round the World Yacht Race, is also competing in this year's Two Handed Round Britain and Ireland Race, racing aboard the IOR design 36 footer, Predator, in Class 3. Beggs teams up with Nic Gray, a former round the world crew and now one of Clipper Ventures' training mates.

The only all female team competing in this year's Two Handed Round Britain and Ireland Race is Becky Walford, lead Skipper on Clipper's corporate Reflex 38 fleet, is racing in Class 4 with Mary Falk on Q11, a 35 footer.

Matt Baker, who took the helm of Plymouth's entry in The Times Clipper 2000 Round The World Yacht Race, is racing with Richard Wevill aboard the 38-foot No Fear of Yealm in Class 3; whilst Mervyn Wheatley, is sailing with his brother aboard the 42-foot yacht Tamarind, in Class 2.

Royal Western Yacht Club/News Editor
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