Caernarfon in at Lightning Speed
At 19.05 on Saturday night Geoff West steered Lightning
Reflex to the pier at Caernarfon to win the first sailing
leg of the race, but the Royal Marines on Hannah were only
a minute behind.
After crossing the start line the 2 boats had been together
all the way, with Lightning Reflex leading and Hannah tailing
her every move. The choppy seas of the afternoon gave way
to easier conditions and a following wind after they came
close in shore to round Bardsey Head and their final time
for the 62 mile stage was 7 hours and 5 minutes, just short
of the record time of 6.52 set in 1991.
Arriving at the entrance to the Menai Strait it was touch
and go whether or not would cross Caernarfon Bar immediately,
but Ken Fitzpatrick, the harbour master at nearby Pwllheli
decided to go across and the Marines once again followed.
As they motored up the channel to the pier they bumped the
bottom a few times, but both made it safely to set their
runners off up Snowdon. They are likely to cross the mountain
in under 4 hours and get a good tide to carry them through
the treacherous Menai Strait.
It was some time before the next yacht, KAAT, came into
the channel, between Anglesea and the mainland, but approaching
the town with it's distinctive castle walls they ran aground.
They were already motoring, which is allowed once past a
certain point so that the boats can safely manoeuvre, but
ran up onto the bank and there they stayed while the chasing
pack came by. With wind and tide pushing them onto the bank
there was no way off until high tide. This team are already
getting a reputation for mishaps, they got a penalty for
not arriving at Barmouth within 24 hours of the start (all
of 1minute!) and a dinghy had to go out to them to collect
some vital paperwork (their indemnity form) just before
they left the harbour.
The boats which came by them before nightfall were 'Stormcruiser'
(arrival 21.28), Greased Lightning (21.30), Caol Ila (21.32),
Farthing (21.35), Midnight Getaway (21.59) and Mew Gull
(22.02). It's doubtful whether this chasing pack will be
able to catch the tide to pass the Straits and so may have
to wait. If that happens the 2 Reflex 38's will gain a big
lead, as much as 6 hours and with winds to force 7 forecast
for tomorrow they may start to move even faster and threaten
some race records.