21 Oct Race Report 2022
Double Handed Round Britain & Ireland Race 2022 and the inaugural Fully Crewed RB&I Race
By Adrian Gray, Race Director
29th May 2022 saw the start of the 15th Double Handed Round Britain & Ireland Race. This was to be a very special edition as, for the very first time, the race would be supported by a new fully crewed version. Following the 14th edition in 2018, many of the past competitors, along with a number who had shown an interest in the race, were asked for their opinions on what made this special and what would improve the race to help entice other entries. The results lead to the new-look course and some changes to enhance the experience for a bigger audience.
First, the course was to feature 1 less stop over. The 3 stopovers would now be Galway, Lerwick and Blyth. Galway has had previous experience with big yachting events as the city had hosted the Volvo Ocean Race stopover and had the commercial harbour which doubled up to be a race village. Blyth was chosen as it has the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club well positioned half way down the east coast and has its own marina within metres of the start / finish line, ideal when finishing the leg and all one wants to do is go to the bar or get your head down for some much-needed rest.
The biggest change to the race would be the introduction of a fully crewed class. Due to the time it takes to sail around the country it was decided that this class would also have the option to change 50% of the crew at Galway and at Blyth. This is perfect for the sailor who wanted to be part of an RB&I team but has time restrictions. It is also great for charter boats. With the 2 handed race, one change can be made but at any port.
As with the OSTAR and TWOSTAR the previous weekend, over 100 spectators consisting of family, friends, Royal Western Yacht Club members and press boarded the ‘Plymouth Venturer’ sight-seeing vessel for a bird’s eye view of the start. Unlike the OSTAR and TWOSTAR there was a fresh north-westerly breeze giving all the entrants great conditions to show what their yachts could do in front of a very vocal crowd. Each yacht was introduced to the spectators and received a big cheer, the biggest of which was for Lou Boorman and her crew Elin Jones displaying their Welsh flag with pride onboard their Contessa 32, ‘White Knight’. These two ladies where vying to become the youngest ever crew to complete this historical race.
This time the start boat was positioned in the middle of the line, with a north westerly zone set up for the multihulls and a south easterly zone set up for the monohulls. These boat types react very differently and operate at very different speeds so the safest way to start, particularly when there are 1800 miles to go, is to have 2 start zones. At precisely 1200hrs the start flag dropped, and the horn sounded to start the 15th edition of the race. Both fleets got underway without a hitch with the early pace setters being the 39ft Shuttleworth Trimaran, ‘Morpheus’. Owned by Andrew Fennell and crewed by Plymouth local sailmaker, Andy Sinclair and local sailor Paddy Hutchings who was taking time out of his preparations in France for the ‘Solitaire de Figaro’.
3 hours into the race and Morpheus would be the first to reach the Lizard. By now separation was beginning to be seen between the multi’s and mono’s, all but for one mono which was Ross Hobson and Adrian Banks on their open 50, ‘Pegasus of Northumberland’. Rating at 1.493 this was, on paper, the fastest boat in the fleet but for her to use her entire weaponry she would need a lot of breeze in order to use her water ballast and rig controls to reach the best optimisation for the boat set up. Unfortunately this was to elude them for the majority of the race.
Keeping up with ‘Pegasus’ was a challenge, but Michael Kleinjans’ ‘Kahu’ and Simon Baker’s ‘Hissy Fit’ were up for that challenge, right up to the first shut down off Land’s End, where the race would become a parking lot and patience was the name of the game. Once the breeze filled in there would be 9 boats all in a line with less than a mile separating them. Dominic Bowns was showing how versatile the Sunfast 3300 was as ‘Orbit’ was now right up with the leaders. Co-skippered by Ian Munslow, this team would prove to be a formidable partnership with the drive and determination to challenge for every leg of the race. By the end of the second shut down only 4 boats were out of the pack, the furthest back was ‘Mea’. This was to be expected as she was the slowest, smallest boat in the fleet but quite possibly the ‘people’s favourite’ as this was a beautiful example of a Vertue 25 and its owner, Matteo Richardi, had already sailed thousands of miles to get to the start line. Another notable absence was that of Christian Chalandre and his co-skipper Pascal Body on ‘Olbia’. Christian had already taken part in 3 OSTARs with his Aquafibre 34, this year it was a simple choice for which race to do. Although Chalandre had to retire from the 2013 race with damage, he has a great record for the OSTAR of 4 races, 3 finishes, with a 4th in 2017 and a 17th in 2009. ‘I have never competed in the 2 Handed Round Britain and Ireland race’ he said, ‘so as this is the last time I will be racing offshore, I had to do this one!’ Will he be tempted back in 2024? We will have to wait and see.
Leg 1 was a game of snakes and ladders, with shutdowns aplenty. Finally Morpheus would cross the Galway finish line at around 1700hrs with a finish time of 50 hours and 42 minutes. Once in the harbour Andrew Fennell’s team would make a beeline to the nearest provider of Guinness and proceeded to unwind from what was a very challenging 2 days. Next in was Hissy Fit who was to begin their Galway stopover at 2300hrs, followed by the first monohull, ‘Pegasus’ who arrived in the early hours of the morning. ‘Kahu’, ‘Suenos’, ‘Belladonna’ and ‘Orbit’ were to make it in time for the BBQ and live music organised by the Galway Bay Sailing Club. It has always depended on the local people to help and support the teams as they arrive with whatever demands they have, could be a nearest shower, a sailmaker, or a beer! The RWYC also provide support with 2 members going to each stopover for a week in order to capture as many of the fleet as possible and give them a cheer as they finish. The Galway stop over was manned by members of the Galway Bay Sailing Club and representation from the RWYC was Race Director Adrian Gray and Jane Gaca, who had started the race with the flags back in Plymouth. A fantastic evening was had by all with prizes given to those entries who outperformed, courtesy of Dubarry. It was a shame that the wind gods were not kind on those who didn’t make last orders. The following evening the team set up in the shed once again so as to share a beer and hear the tails of those who were within 24 hours of the leaders.
The Royal Western RB&I is a unique race. There is no restart as such, instead each boat has 48 hours in which they must stay in port. Only then can they restart. This would mean that ‘Morpheus’ would leave for Lerwick before the 3 slower boats, ‘Pipedream II’ the Beneteau First 34.5 sailed by Alan Charlton and Paul Mead, ‘White Knight’ and ‘Mea’ would see the back of the southwest coast of Ireland.
Unfortunately, the Traffic Separation System (TSS) to the West of the Scilly Isles would come into play. A misunderstanding as to this being part of the course or an obstacle would lead to some disgruntled teams. To try and reach a fair point for all, the end result was to award redress to those who did not go through the TSS. The result of this redress would not be seen to affect the overall positions. During this stopover an amendment was issued stating that all TSS were now obstacles and to be avoided at all costs. As ‘Mea’ finished this leg, she would soon see that she would only have ‘White Knight’ as company. The rest of the fleet were well on their way to Lerwick.
Pipedream retired from the race at Galway, noting that the elapsed time would now be too long for them due to work commitments. Leg 2 would see some of the toughest conditions in the entire race which also lead to further retirements. Neil Boughton and co-skipper Julian Weyer Brown would pull ‘Easy Tiger’ out of the race and return to Northern Ireland. Dominic Gooding and Brendan Steward onboard ‘Belladonna’ and Bob Wallace and his crew would also suffer from the slow first leg and run out of time.
Rear Commodore Sail to be, Jerry Lock and his wife Bryony were to represent the club during the Lerwick stop over. They were to be kept extremely busy due to the trackers not behaving. Some went down, others burned through the power. It was imperative that each boat had a fully operational tracker and thanks to their efforts we were able to track every boat around the entire course.
Lerwick was and is always a special and interesting stopover, being at the end of the longest leg. The competitors faced some rough and challenging headwinds around the north of the Shetland Isles. Long term supporters of the RB&I, The Lerwick Boating Club, under their new Commodore Shayne McLeod, had organised a “Boat Buddy” system. Each boat was met on arrival and helped by the LBC’s members. The Lerwick Harbour Authority generously reserved a separate harbour for competing yachts. This was extremely useful during some very late nights and early morning arrivals and departures, in challenging conditions. Some at the same time! Luckily, the LBC’s hospitality extended to keeping the clubhouse and bar open during these changeovers. One casualty was to retire at Lerwick, being the Newick 38 trimaran, ‘Nemo’ owned by Matt Theobald. This was due to some structural damage to one of the floats.
We look froward to continuing to receive the support and friendship of Lerwick, the Club and Port in the future.
As the boats began heading south, duels were developing throughout the racecourse. ‘Morpheus’ and ‘Hissy Fit’ were locked in battle. The Shuttleworth Tri was still able to hold onto the lead on the water but as they entered the RNYC marina the gap was 4 hours. ‘Pegasus’ and ‘Kahu’ were locked together also with only a few minutes separating them. ‘Suenos’ was next in followed by ‘Orbit’ who had time on the rest of the fleet by this point. Then a regular sight on offshore races was to continue for the entire rest of the race. The two Isle of Man boats were locked in battle. With her striking graphics of the eagle and the Stars & Stripes proudly displayed on the mainsail, Charlene Howard and Bobby Drummand onboard their Jeanneau 43 ‘AJ Wanderlust’ was only an hour behind her arch-rival Kuba Szymanski onboard his Beneteau 40.7 ‘Polished Manx’. They would both miss the 2 lead boats as both ‘Morpheus’ and ‘Hissy Fit’ had already left and were well into the final leg of the race.
2022 was to see the first inclusion of Blyth and the unique Royal Northumberland Yacht Club. The club is actually a light ship, one of only 2 in existence. This beautiful clubhouse paid host to the entire fleet over the course of 3 weeks from start to finish. Rear Commodore House, Judi Sheldon and her husband Luke manned this stopover for 10 days which would again cover most of the fleet. The fleet very much enjoyed the hospitality of the club and the unusual setting. Blyth is a small commercial port, but the passion shown by the club eclipsed the lack of other amenities that were abundant on the other stopovers. We thank Vice Commodore Mike Bradburn and his entire team for all their help and look forward to returning again.
Probably the trickiest leg of the entire race was Blyth to Plymouth. This would include very light winds for the leaders, strong winds for the back half, The Dover Straits being the busiest shipping area in the world, not to forget the abundance of TSS’s. The leaders had no fewer than 3 shutdowns. Patience was tested and the final dice were thrown. ‘Hissy Fit’ would opt for a lower route back through the English Channel and stay within striking distance for the entire leg. As they both passed Portland Bill and entered Lyme Bay, ‘Kahu’ would be the next boat to retire. Again, conditions would not allow the 2014 winner the time to finish. Being at the closest point to Belgium, Kleinjans chose to retire. As the leaders passed Start Point, ‘Mea’ was just arriving in Lerwick.
Back in Plymouth Sound and the leaders began their final approach. First to finish was the fully crewed ‘Morpheus’ and team with a leg time of 96 hours. Although 2nd to finish, ‘Hissy Fit’ was to beat their leg 4 time by 2 ½ hours. Simon Baker and Dan Fellows were named the 2 Handed Round Britain & Ireland Line Honours winners and have their name inscribed on the winners’ board. Suenos would be the only other multihull finisher. Dazcats would amount to 4 Catamarans, which was half the fleet. Built locally in Millbrook, it is great to see that finally Simon Baker gets his name on the winner’s board with one of his own boats.
Of the monohulls, Ross Hobson and this time Chris Briggs, were to finish first in the monohulls on the water, but poor conditions for the 2002 winner would see them slide down the results board. Next in was ‘Orbit’. Unfortunately ‘Orbit’ would infringe the TSS on a number of occasions and as such would receive time penalties which would leave them in 2nd place overall. ‘AJ Wanderlust’ would finish within 22 minutes of ‘Polished Manx’. A long wait would begin for Charlene Howard and Bobby Drummand as they watched Simon Hutchinson and Gary Deakin onboard ‘Carrick’ come in finishing in a very respectable 5th overall and Christian Chalandre with co skipper Pascal Body on ‘Olbia’ pip them to 4th. Following a really fast sail along the south coast, it was now that Charlene Howard and Bobby Drummand were announced as winners of this year’s 2 handed Round Britain and Ireland race on corrected time.
Lou Boorman and Elin jones were next in with ‘White Knight’ and were welcomed by the biggest welcoming party of the entire race. Not only had they finished but they were also the youngest ever crew to finish and Lou Boorman the youngest ever skipper to finish. The finish was beamed across social media and was to be the most watched clip of the entire race.
Last but by no means least, ‘Mea’ crossed the line. This was never about winning the race for Matteo Richardi, it was all about achieving a circumnavigation around the British Isles and finishing, which he did with a huge amount of pride.
2 handed Round Britain and Ireland race corrected time
1st (and 2H overall Line Honours) Hissy Fit Simon Baker & Dan Fellows
2nd Suenos Rupert Kidd & Alan Mitchell
2 Handed Monohull Round Britain and Ireland Race corrected time
1ST AJ Wanderlust Charlene Howard & Bobby Drummond
2nd Orbit Dominic Bowns & Ian Munslow
3rd Polished Manx Kuba Szymanski & Ian Davidson
Fully crewed Round Britain and Ireland Race
1st and line honours
Andrew Fennell, Andy Sinclair, Paddy Hutchings, Chris Briggs, Richard
And so this wraps up a very successful, 15th Two Handed Round Britain and Ireland Race and the new fully crewed race. Our heartfelt thanks go to all the support volunteers from all 3 stopovers.
Our thanks must also go to MailASail. We have a great relationship with our sponsor, and we are pleased to announce that they will once again be title sponsors for RB&I 2024.
Other partners for the race were Gensys – who were our official Galway stopover partner, Dubarry, Heineken, Harbour Hotel Galway. We thank them very much for seeing an opportunity to support this very special race and hope to work with them again in future races.
Entries are now being accepted for;
- *Round Iceland Race 2023 (mile builder for ‘Global Solo Challenge’ and qualifier for OSTAR 2024)
- *Wolf Rock Race 2023 (qualifier for PF500)
- *Plymouth Fastnet 500 (PF500) Qualifier towards miles for OSTAR 2024
- OSTAR 2024 (qualifier for Plymouth to Bermuda Race – 2025 TBA)
- TWOSTAR 2024 – as above
- *OSTAR Classic – for boats who have entered races prior to 2008
*Races are open for Solo, 2 Handed 4 handed and fully crewed entries.
For further information or to enter these and other races please contact firstname.lastname@example.org