Monster Project leads Round Ireland Race as fleet spreads

At 21:00 hrs BST Monday, the fleet is strung out along the west coast from the north Mayo coastline all the way down to just north of the Dingle peninsula. David Ryan in Wicklow’s Volvo 70 Monster Project is still holding his lead over Teng Tools Kilcullen, Alan Crosbie and Enda O Coineen, in their Open 60 with about 14 miles between them as they round Belmullet and head across Sligo Bay.

The next two boats are now about 40 miles off the lead boats. Libertalia (Ocean 60, Team Jolokia from Lorient)  and Newstalk for Adrenalin (Farr 60) have been close all rtace and about a mile separates the two now, with Libertalia just ahead. This looks like a duel that will continue for a while yet.

Further back the fleet has spread out a little bit after the doldrums last night at the Fastnet, when winds were very slack, and it stretches from Clifden across Galway Bay and down the Clare coast to the Shannon estuary. Leading the pack, and gaining on the two ahead, is Gouy Laurent in Inis Mór, Ker 39, last year’s winner, who knows these waters very well. He’s 1st on corrected time in Class 1, but not that great overall.

Cavatina, Granada 38, – previous 2 time winner, is still 1st on estimated corrected time, and on track for a historic 3rd overall victory, but Polished Manx, Sigma 33, is climbing the rankings and is now 2nd on corrected time. Ruth, J 109, is 3rd and Big Deal (Dehler 34, Dillon father and son team) is hanging in there in 4th , still a remarkable achievement, and pushes McGregor IV, MG38, into 5th place. At this point, the first 10 boats are all more or less within 6 hours of each other on corrected time and there are 3 Irish boats in the first 4 on corrected time.

It looks like the little wind that is there is slackening and forecast shows it slackening further throughout the night, with not much for tomorrow at all. This will make the tidal gate at Rathlin Island even more important; whoever gets there to take advantage of the flood tide will gain significantly. Boats who miss the flood might find themselves anchoring to hold position against the ebb tide and stronger winds from SW are not forecast until later Tuesday night.

Estimated corrected time is very helpful, but wind and tide can blow all estimates out of the water in a few short hours. This continues to be a fascinating race, though it must be very frustrating for the sailors.

 – Peter Shearer

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