Race organisers wary of low pressure system due Thursday

A low-pressure system forecast to arrive in the south of Ireland on Thursday has caused the Round Britain and Ireland Race organisers to reverse the course for safety reasons.

The race, which started yesterday from the Isle of Wight in gusts of up to 30 knots, is taking an anti-clockwise course round Britain first and then Ireland.

Royal Ocean Racing Club commodore Andrew McIrvine said that the course had been changed out of consideration for the competitors.

The club’s weather adviser Mike Broughton expected that the forecast depression could bring wind speeds of up to 50 knots.

The sea state would become “very confused” as the wind direction changed by 180 degrees. “Although the boats are very well prepared, these conditions could cause damage and retirements and the west coast of Ireland has very few places offering shelter,” he said.

“By going east about, the boats will avoid the worst of the depression and the confused sea state, and will have far more shelter opportunities, as there will be several ports that the boats can go into should they decide to do so,” he said.

In 2007, RORC delayed the start of the Fastnet Race due to a severe weather warning from the UK Met Office. When the race eventually got underway, the weather forced numerous retirements, most doing so before leaving the English Channel. Of the starting fleet, less than a quarter finished the race.

In August 1979, 15 people lost their lives in the Fastnet Race when it was hit by a vicious summer storm.