Fifth World Record in Round Britain and Ireland Race

Published on August 20th, 2014

Cowes, UK (August 20, 2014) – When the tail end of Hurricane Bertha led to the postponed start of the 1800-mile Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race by 21 hours, the decision was in the sake of safety, but the result did little to slow what proved to be a record-breaking race.

Following the start on August 11, the latest milestone was set when Swish, skippered by Canadian Roderick Knowles, crossed the finish line off the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes at 04.06.49 BST today with an elapsed time of 8 days, 19 hours, 06 minutes and 49 seconds. Subject to ratification by the World Speed Sailing Record Council, this breaks the previous World Record for Monohulls 40 feet and less, set by Concise 2 in 2010, by over 18 hours.

This will be the fifth World Record broken, with new crewed measures set for the outright speed record, the outright monohull record, the female monohull record, and the record for monohulls 60 feet and less.

“We knew that we were the only Class40 left in the race and from that moment on, our only goal was to finish the race,” explained Knowles. “So to break the record is just fantastic. Right out of the blocks we had tough conditions and it was painful, several competitors set off at full speed with masthead kites but we were more cautious, up until we got to about half way up the coast of Scotland we had 30 knots of wind most of the time. It was quite a pleasant reach around Muckle Flugga but the toughest conditions were on the approach to St.Kilda, we hoved to for a few minutes and put the storm sails on.

“I have a very small number of miles compared to the crew, so for me it was an enormous learning experience. Nick (Legatt) as navigator, was excellent and I have learnt so much from his seamanship. But when it comes down to it, it was just four blokes, the youngest is 40, so we didn’t argue about anything or take anything personally. The atmosphere was very relaxed on board and I didn’t hear an ill-word all trip. It is incredible and really cool that we beat the world record by over 18 hours, I have never held a world record before.”

Swish’s South African navigator, Nick Legatt, has broken a world record on the course before as part of Steve Fossett’s Playstation crew in 2002. Legatt has sailed round the world three times and crossed the Atlantic 34 times.

“I have raced across the Atlantic at various latitudes and they all pose different challenges, this race is far more intense in terms of weather, we had three different weather systems to contend with. Also the effects of the land are very significant in this race, which you don’t get crossing an ocean. We did have some communication issues on Swish, which meant we had no weather data once we left and we used the barometer and our eyes to decide on what was coming next. There were many discussions on board about cloud shapes and air temperature, so it was really a bit old school. This is a very unique race, it is a pity the RORC only run it every four years.”

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