After just over 100 hours in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race, Franco Niggeler’s Kuka3 crossed the finishing-line at Wicklow Harbour on Wednesday evening after convincingly leading the on the water race for four solid days.
Becalmed on the Irish Sea for most of the day, a change with the ebb tide finally got the crew back to Wicklow helped by a gentle evening breeze.
The course time was unusually slow despite fresh winds for the first half of the race that started on Saturday and is a marked contrast to the current course record set in 2016 by George David on Rambler 88 of just over 50 hours.
The Volvo 70-footer Green Dragon is the next expected finisher at Wicklow probably at dusk while the next group of five boats with 35 miles still to sail were racing against another evening shutdown of the light breeze and expected turn of the tide; their arrival at Wicklow Sailing Club was not expected until the early hours of Thursday morning.
Amongst this group, the two leading Classe 40 entries are sailing a classic offshore duel with Greg Leonard’s Kite under pressure from Andrea Fornarno’s Influence who has edged ahead after gamble to sail away from the coast and lighter winds.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the fleet is still stretched from Rathlin Island on the North coast around to Dundalk Bay and making steady progress on the final approach to the finish.
Depending on breeze and tides, most boats should reach Wicklow by Friday when the overall winner of the race – to be decided on handicap corrected time – will be known.
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