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Round Britain and Ireland Race starts this weekend!

by Deborah Leggate -

Peter Taylor, Race Director for the Shetland Round Britain and Ireland Race (SRBI), is looking forward to one of the hardest fought and exciting contests in the gruelling event's 44 year history. The 12th running of the race starts from Plymouth Sound on 6th June and the clockwise course covers 2000 nautical miles around the UK coastline with compulsory stops at Kinsale, Barra, Lerwick and Lowestoft.

“We have an excellent starting line up of 57 of which 8 are multihulls and 10 are cutting edge Class 40 racers including Alex Bennett's Fujifilm”, said Peter. “The rest of the field are boats and crews without big sponsorship, entered in the true Corinthian spirit of taking part and enjoying one of ocean racing's biggest challenges and greatest adventures.”

Other notable competitors amongst an impressive field include 2005 OSTAR (Original Single Handed Trans Atlantic Race) winner Nico Budel with Clive Lonsdale in sec. Hayai, so called as the first Hayai had to be abandoned in the Indian Ocean in 2008, and Sam Goodchild and Oliver Young from Saltash in their Figaro II, Yogo Racing Izara. Oliver made headlines last year when he was one of 5 British sailors seized and held captive by the Iranian Navy.

Mary Falk, a veteran of five Round Britain and Ireland Races and three OSTARs, will be sailing with Jerry Freeman in QII, hoping to reach a fundraising target of £100,000 for the Institute of Cancer Research. As well as the experienced competitors there are also relative newcomers such as Katie Miller, the youngest female sailor to finish the OSTAR 2009. She is viewed as one of the UK's most promising young sailors and has already completed a circumnavigation of Britain which raised £10,000 for the Ellen MacArthur Trust. Matthew Lingley joins her on their Figaro II monohull, bluQube.

Also included in the field for the first time are three VQ32's (VQ stands for Very Quick!) designed by Dutchman Dick Koopmans specifically for shorthanded (two crew) racing. Only Spirit, at 30ft, skippered by Richard Versteegh and David Bowdler and Gratifikation at 29ft skippered by Richard Argent and Kevin Ashford are smaller than these brand new boats.

The race starts at 12.00 on Sunday 6th June, with the multihulls going off first followed by the rest of the fleet at 12.15. Spectators are advised to find themselves a good position overlooking Plymouth Sound from Jennycliff to see the start of one of the sailing world's most arduous tests of seamanship and endurance. “It's not for the faint hearted,” says Peter.

Every boat is fitted with a satellite tracking device so once the race is under way the progress of every crew can be followed on the official website at where you will also find full information about every boat and crew.

Speaking on behalf of race sponsors Shetland Islands Council, Council Convenor Mr Sandy Cluness said “I'm very pleased with how well the planning for the race has gone and I wish every competitor a safe race. A warm welcome awaits all when they reach Lerwick about the middle of June."

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