Finishing-line looms large for SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race
Michael Boyd's Darkwood is amongst the leading pack of entries in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race in the closing stages of the 705-nautical mile event. Photograph: David Branigan/Oceansport
With high pressure dominating, light winds have taken over for last stages of SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race where the 39-strong fleet is beginning the final 48 hours of the 705-nautical mile contest.
Strong tides, light winds and a forecast of fog will make the 100 miles to the finishing-line at Wicklow an intense affair as Franco Niggeler's Kuka3 defends a lead won shortly after the start on Saturday.
But the slowed pace of the leader has allowed the chasing pack to gain ground and the fleet is spread over two hundred miles of coast, stretching from Strangford Lough on the North-East coast to Sligo Bay to the North-West.
Gains brought on by favourable tide and some breeze have seen Classe 40 entries Kite skippered by Greg Leonard (USA) and Influence skippered by Andrea Fornarno both makes gains further offshore.
However, strong performances by Bob Rendell's Samatom and Michael Boyd's Darkwood were barely 30 miles behind the leader.
Wednesday will be a significant day, not least because the first finishers will arrive at Wicklow with 'Line Honours' decided, but also because the weather conditions for the bulk of the fleet will determine the fortunes for the eventual overall winner to be decided by the weekend.
Meanwhile, Mike Murphy's Sigma 38 State O'Chassis pulled out of the race late on Monday evening and headed into Dingle. The retirement brings the total number of boats to withdraw from the race to five.