Leg starts on:
10 June 2018
Looks like half a Round Britain Race
It is about half of the route around the British Isles, starting from Cardiff and heading north along the coast of Wales, then up and over the north of Scotland, before descending south into the North Sea, around the southern tip of Norway and then east to Gothenburg. It’s 1,300 nautical miles and starts on 10 June.
What’s going to make the difference between the winners and losers on this one?
Westerly Storm Track: Although it’s short and starts just a few days before the summer solstice this could still be a very tough leg. The route takes the fleet a long way north, and into the path of any low pressure systems moving down the Westerly Storm Track, the conveyor belt of east-bound low pressure systems that prowl around the Arctic.
If they get hit by a low pressure system it will be wet and fast... but it’s summer, and just as likely a scenario will be that the Sub-Tropical High Pressure known locally as the Azores High (a stable, semi-static area of High Pressure) will have drifted north and light winds will dominate.
Land effects: A lot of this leg is in close proximity to the land, and that means that all the usual land effects will be present. The daily cycle of heating and cooling of the land will create sea breezes blowing onto the shore during the day, and drainage winds blowing back onto the sea at night. Every headland and valley will bend and shift the wind, every island will distort it for miles downwind. There will be a lot to think about, including....
The Tides: The tidal streams around the British Isles are strong, commonly reaching 3-4 knots, and even more when it compresses on headlands. The tide floods in for six hours and then ebbs back out for six hours. So for any given course, a boat will have roughly six hours of favourable current – time best spent out in deep water – and then six hours when they need to try and dodge inshore, into shallow water where it runs less strongly. If the wind is light enough, anchoring can be a tactically smart option.
Any good stories?
A lot of legs have finished in Gothenburg; sometimes the fleet have come up from the south, and sometimes down from the north. Either way, it has produced some spectacular finishes, not the least of which was the four-way battle in 2001-02. Just a mile separated the leaders as they reached the offshore islands that protect the city, and it was only by ducking inshore to avoid the tide that gave ASSA ABLOY the win on the line.