The 1,805 nautical mile race around Britain and Ireland is organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club every four years and is considered to be one of the toughest challenges in the sport of yacht racing.
For the past two races, the weather has been so rough that the RORC has reversed the route to protect the fleet. This year 31 teams took part in the iconic race.
After setting off, many had a tough first night, with damage reported on a number of the boats, including Giles Redpath’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra. However, on a more positive note, at this point she was already tied for the lead on the water with Phosphorous II.
A message received from the crew told us that they were, “having a right battle with Phosphorus. Only about 50m apart at times last night,” but, after a tricky patch in light air and swell, the breeze appeared and they were beating their way around the Lizard to find themselves 1st in IRC One.
The breeze returned as the team on Pata Negra, still the provisional leader, headed round the famous Fastnet Lighthouse and up the West Coast of Ireland, heading for Black Rock at over 12 knots.
“Things are pretty good on board now, we have been bounding around the Celtic Sea in a rather nasty chop and we have now cracked sheets at long last. It is so nice! Boat speed is up but we just found the chain locker and bow full of water, so there has been a big pumping job going on. Hopefully now the bow is on the rise.”
Tough conditions continued for the fleet with competitors reporting 30 kts of wind gusting to 35, with 3-4 metre waves.
“The wind has been up and down to 29 kts and a front is passing overhead… getting wet whilst I type this! Glad to be going down wind and gave a seal a right fright earlier when we came down on him at 20 knots with A4 and full main. Steadied back a bit now to A5 with 1 reef as it was getting a bit hairy. Nice not not to be hiking and we’re all getting exercise grinding instead”
Heading up to St Kilda, Pata Negra continued at around 13- 18kts and was onward bound for the famous Muckle Flugga lighthouse. Turning ‘right at the light’, they found relatively flat seas, but were hit by squalls, taking their kite down 8 times in 24 hrs, only to put it back up again when the wind/rain had passed, and often queuing up to grind in order to warm themselves up.
The heatwave hadn’t reached that far North!
Past Muckle Flugga, the fleet reported winds of 52kts. This most northerly point of the race is on the same latitude as Alaska…
On Friday, still leading, the team spent their time lifting floorboards to find a very wet boat but were happy with how Pata Negra was performing.
“After doing the RORC transat on this boat in 2016, I’m a real fan of Lombard’s design with the twin rudders and heavy chine. The boat drives so well and for the first time in 3 years I saw it broach on this trip. The control is incredible and the way you can kick it down the waves means you catch more than a normal boat”
On Saturday, hit by up to 30 knts of wind, with the cross swell of the North Atlantic meeting the North Sea, the boat was taking off some waves and ploughing through others.
“I think today really demonstrated the statement at the race briefing that this is RORC’s toughest yacht race… my body is in full agreement.”
By Sunday, Pata Negra had moved into 2nd place, meaning that the final 100 miles would decide everything.
By Tuesday, heading in to the English Channel, Pata Negra had put some distance between her and the next boat (Benjamin Schwartz and Chen Jin Hao’s Figaro 2 El Velosolex SL Energies Group), but it was to be a close run finish.
After 9 days, 8 hours, 35 mins and 16 secs, Pata Negra crossed the finish line in Cowes! The next boat would have had to finish by a certain time to beat her, but didn’t manage to, due to the distance they still had to cover.
Not only did she take line honours and the win in IRC One for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, she won IRC Overall as well.
We’ve enjoyed following your progress!
Well done team!