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Actual Leader living up to name

Author: Sue Pelling   Date: 12:47 Saturday 29 Jun 2019

Yves Le Blevec’s Grand Prix racing multihull – ‘Actual Leader’ is revelling in the light conditions at the head of the 1,210-strong Round the Island Race fleet. In light to moderate winds she has managed to shake off her closest on-the-water rivals – Jethou, Lady Mariposa and Mini Y.

Having passed the Needles, Le Blevec – former winner of the Mini Transat – and his pro team sailed a tactically smart race by taking a long port tack offshore to pull well clear of ‘Jethou’ and the rest of the fleet.

Matt Sheahan commenting from the boat as they headed upwind on the east side of the Island towards Ventnor said the conditions were currently up and down. “We’d been cross gybing with ‘Jethou’ all the way down The Solent with just 300m between us but we slipped in a port tack and continued on that tack well offshore. This was a great move because we were recording up to 22-23knts boat speed in 18kts of breeze and really pulled ahead of Jethou. Unfortunately, it has all slowed up a bit now because having tacked inshore the wind is down to 8kts and we’re also against the tide.”

Elsewhere on the course the fleet is enjoying a glorious sunny day on the water and the usual bunching/concertina effect of the fleet approaching the Needles is particularly spectacular with the mass of spinnakers dominating the skyline. However, the wind has dropped significantly, which means there is a good chance some might not make it through the tidal gate before it closes at around 1400.

Jacquie Dowding – seasoned sailor and double kidney transplant recipient – is sailing with the Kidney Transplant Awareness team aboard ‘Cascade’ a Jeanneau Voyage. The team, made up of five other successful kidney transplant recipients/sailors, plus Georgios Papadakis an eminent transplant surgeon from Guy's Hospital.

Dowding commenting on the progress of the race says it’s all slowed up a bit but the team is enjoying the day. “We had a good start and just made it round the Needles so the race starts again now. The main object for us being here is to create awareness about what we do also, and importantly it is to thank our donors and their families because without them we wouldn’t be here.”

One team hoping to do well today are the Tyler brothers, Pip and Pete and crew on ‘Red Eye’ the Sunfast 3600 from Brighton. This racy four-year-old design, which recently won the Royal Escape Race from Brighton, has a wide, hard chine, and asymmetric kite, so potentially could do well given the generally downwind conditions. Chatting before the race Pip said they were hoping for 10-15kts of breeze so they could fly the Code Zero. “Our aim is to sail fast and keep out of trouble.”