Shirley & Dee

SHIRLEY AND DEE PREPARE FOR ROUND BRITAIN & IRELAND RACE THAT WILL START AND END IN COWES

Cowes will host the start and finish of this year’s Sevenstar Race Round Britain & Ireland Race which departs on 7th August and for 2022 a record 15 teams are planning to take on this long-haul race in IRC Two-Handed. About 40 boats are taking part altogether – so some spectacle to see at the Cowes start.

Short-handed racing with the RORC has been booming in recent years with 84 teams competing in the 2021 RORC Season’s Points Championship.  However, the 1,800-mile Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race is a hard task for a full-crew, let alone Two-Handed. Since IRC Two-Handed was introduced 12 years ago, 25 teams have started the race; only nine have finished.

Experienced Two-Handed skippers planning to race this year include Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada – 2020 RORC Yacht of the Year and overall winner of the RORC Transatlantic Race. 2012 RORC Yacht of the Year skipper Nick Martin will race his Sun Fast 3600 Diablo. The highly experienced Nigel de Quervain Colley will race his Sun Fast 3300 Fastrak XII and Sam White, 4th in IRC Two-Handed for the 2021 Rolex Fastnet, will race his latest boat the JPK 1080 Mzungu.

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For those who look for local interest Cowes-based Olympic sailor Shirley Robertson OBE will be taking part with Dee Caffari MBE who is a regular visitor to the Island and honed some of her sailing skills at UKSA Cowes.

Shirley and Dee will be racing together on a brand-new Sun Fast 3300 RockIT (GBR). Shirley’s strength is sailing the boat hard, keeping up the intensity of speed. Dee’s strength is her knowledge and confidence of the course, possessing all the ingredients towards making the right decisions.

Shirley made history by becoming the first British woman to win an Olympic gold medal at consecutive games. In the last 2 years Shirley has raced Two-Handed with Henry Bomby on Sun Fast 3300 Swell. Shirley and Henry took Line Honours in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race for IRC Two-Handed and were 2nd overall in a fleet of 56 boats, after time correction. This will be her first Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race.

Commenting about the upcoming race, Shirley has said:

“This race has a different kind of intensity, racing for 2,000 miles is new to me. It is a long time, 24-7 with two people in a very small boat. We are going to have to pace ourselves, prioritise rest and really look after each other. We need to be well prepped, think about everything in advance and have real confidence in the boat.”

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This will be Shirley’s first-time racing around her native Scotland, but she admits never having been to Shetland, let alone raced around it:

“I have this romantic image of the race that we would be racing around the beautiful Scottish coastline, but I am sure the reality will be very different. It is a massive appeal for me to race around the place that I love; it will be special to see all that from the sea.”

Dee added:

“The course is full of obstacles, challenges and it is really testing, and that is the attraction of the race. Assuming a traditional clockwise direction, the first part is really good sailing in open water; past the Fastnet and onto the West Coast of Ireland, that’s the enjoyable part, but then you get the stress.

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“You are getting more tired when you reach the top of the course, Muckle Flugga. It is further north than Cape Horn is south, and the two rocky outcrops are amazingly very similar. After that you come down the North Sea, scattered with oil rigs, wind farms, sand banks and shipping lanes.

“The pressure is really on when you are really tired, and probably a bit frustrated. It is no wonder that everyone finishes really broken. This race is all about management at multiple levels: management of yourself, your teammate and the boat.”

Dee Caffari has sailed around the world 6 times and was the first woman to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions. She has an equally impressive record in the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race, setting the Women’s Monohull Course Record as skipper of IMOCA Aviva (2009), and then breaking her own record as part of Sam Davies’s crew on VO65 Team SCA (2014 – 4 days 21 hours 00 mins 39 secs). Dee has completed this race 4 times.

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