The Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race starts today, Sunday 7th August. All 30 teams attended the Skippers Briefing held at the RORC Clubhouse in Cowes. RORC CEO Jeremy Wilton welcomed all competitors to the race: “This is the fifth edition of the race sponsored by Sevenstar Yacht Transport and on behalf of the Club and the competing teams, a big ‘thank you’ for your continued support.”
Race Director Chris Stone ran competitors through the important aspects of the race, especially safety and communication with the RORC Race team. Meteorologist Chris Tibbs gave a detailed weather outlook for the race, summing up the situation for the start. High pressure is expected, giving a north easterly beat off the Squadron Line, with the possibility of a light sea breeze developing later in the day, giving a beat out of the Solent. The wind speed is expected to remain light, although some models are showing 10-15 knots from the southwest.
Libby Greenhalgh will be navigator on IMOCA Oliver Heer Ocean Racing. Skipper Ollie Heer will be taking part in his first race with the boat which he intends to race in the 2024 Vendée Globe. In 2014, Libby was navigator of Volvo 70 SCA and Ollie Heer was on Giles Redpath’s Pata Negra, which was the overall winner of the 2018 Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race.
“This is a great opportunity for me to do an amazing race and to support Ollie at the start of his Vendée Globe campaign,” commented Libby Greenhalgh. “The start is looking pretty calm with a light sea breeze. Some of the routing data suggests a push to the French coast, but it is a long way to go to traverse that no-wind area. I think we will be trying to maximise the little wind that we have and looking at the current to optimise our position. There will be a key point when the wind returns to gradient from sea breeze. The first 48 hours are looking like hard work to make good progress, but we should see the gradient return which should speed up the race to Ireland.”
“This is the perfect first race,” commented Ollie Heer. “I have some great experiences in the past and having a crew on board like Libby doing all the navigation will allow me to really look at the performance of the boat and how to improve it. We are looking to take as many learnings away as we can.”
Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier is crewed by the Army Sailing Association. Skipper Phil Caswell will be taking part in his third race and navigator Will Naylor his fourth. The team of seven are all serving in the British Army and Will Naylor estimates that the team could finish the race in 11-14 days.
“The Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race is the biggest race of the season; it is really important to us,” commented Will Naylor. “It is a fantastic sailor’s race because it is as long as three Fastnets. We come from all backgrounds, but one thing we are good at in the military is coming together as a team. We are good at being wetter and colder than anyone else. As a team, we are serving soldiers and officers from a Lieutenant Colonel to Privates and all of the crew have raced the miles required.”
Christian Heermann will skipper an HSV crew on JV52 Haspa Hamburg. The young team are all from Germany and have the two youngest crew members in the race; Inken Borrman and Reemt Bruhn are both 17 years old.
“We had a windy sail delivering the boat here from Hamburg, but I really enjoyed it and as there was a place for me on the race, I have decided to join the racing team,” commented Inken Borrman. “I have never done anything like this before, so everything is new to me, but I have known Reemt since we were very young, so it will be great to sail with him and the whole team.”
Reemt Bruhn comes from a sailing family; his father and uncle race Class40 Iskareen and his grandfather’s boats were all called by the same name. “Haspa Hamburg is such a powerful and fast boat, it is going to be thrilling to race. The longest race I have done is the Fastnet and the start from Cowes is magical. To race this 1,800-mile course is going to be just an amazing spectacle. I think we are going to be very proud as a crew if we can finish this race.”
Sam White and Sam North are old friends but only started racing together recently on JPK 1080 Mzungu! “I think we really make a good team as Sam (White) is really good around the boat and on navigation, while I have strengths on the tactical side and we make a really good unit,” commented Sam North. “Just to finish would mean we have achieved a huge amount in terms of preparing for the race and if we get a half decent result, I would be really proud of that.”