A Round Britain Race legend in the making

Competitors in the 2008 Round Britain Race sped south today (Friday) in moderate to rough conditions and while it may be heading home to Portsmouth, it is an Austrian, Hannes Bohinc aboard Wettpunkt.Com, who is showing the way.

Wettpunk.com covered the 240 statute mile course between Inverness and Edinburgh in a little under three hours representing an average speed of approximately 70mph. But although not the roughest seas so far encountered, conditions were far from smooth and this was reflected in the finishing times

Wettpunkt.Com finished 12 minutes ahead of Venturer driven Andy Macateer, a boat that although first in the RB1 class, was previously lying 18th overall. This second placing for Venturer illustrates this great offshore battle is far from over and is going to be a bow to bow up to the Portsmouth finishing line on Monday.

Third place was filled by the Greek entered Blue FPT driven by Vassilis Pateras and Dag Pike, the British navigational expert. Previously lying second overall and leading the MC1 class, Blue FPT was 13 minutes 12 seconds behind the Norwegian entered Goldfish Rib Lionhead at Inverness. Despite this impressive result she only reduced her elapsed time by less than two minutes on this leg over the leading Norwegian, Pal Sollie, who bought Lionhead home fourth. With such high performance by the Goldfish Rib, Blue FPT will need to work hard to swing the final outcome.

The pace is beginning to tell with some hulls and machinery protesting at the punishment. Four days of racing from the Channel to Northern Ireland to the Scottish highlands and now downhill to southern waters has seen some teams working through the night to remain in the contest.

Cinzano 558 of three-man crew, Tim Grimshaw, Eric Smillie and Nick Keyser worked frantically to get their boat up to Inverness after suffering a multitude of mechanical problems at the Portsmouth start. Working through Thursday night they just managed to reach the start line only to break down yet again a few miles later.

The Belgium entered Birretta driven by Thomas Vandamme and Jean-Pierre Neels lying ninth overall suffered an engine fire an hour after the start. Once extinguished its determined crew maintained their heading for Edinburgh on one engine.

Another suffering a mountain of problems but now rewarded with a tenth place on this leg, was the Top Gear entered Garmin driven by Iain May and Rowland MacDowie and Jeff Hunton. With Gremlins apparently sorted, this one looks set for a good finish at Portsmouth.

Perhaps the greatest act of sportsmanship so far in this event was when the Fairey cruiser , crewed by BA Captains, Jonathan Napier, Andy Fielding and Cormac Lundy, wrapped a drifting rope round its propeller a few miles after the start. Class competitors John Guille, Richard Hoskins and Chris Clayton aboard the 42 year old restored Gee, immediately stopped and offered assistance.

Grabbing a knife, John Guille jumped into the sea, and swimming below the stricken Team 747, cut the tangled rope from his competitor’s propeller in order to continue their bow to bow contest to Edinburgh.