Race Director Report: Justin Taylor explains:
02 September 2015
At the Crew Briefing the day before the departure from St. Katharine Docks, I predicted that the yachts would be somewhere in the vicinity of Ushant between 48 and 60 hours of the start. Here we are at 46 hours after the start and the yachts have arrived in this area. So far they have made very good progress having averaged 9.4 knots of boat speed since the start. Unfortunately, seven of the yachts have been caught the wrong side of the tidal gate at Ushant and appear to be sailing backwards.
The tidal gate at Ushant is remarkably similar to those found at the Needles Channel (west end of the Isle Of Wight), Portland Bill (Dorset coast) or adjacent to the Channel Island of Alderney. These headlands and channels are characterised by powerfully strong tides as the contents of the North Atlantic force their way up or flood the English Channel before receding or ebbing some hours later. If a yacht judges the transition between the flood and ebb incorrectly they will be seriously hampered especially if the breeze is light and blowing from behind them, as is the case now. Those that judge it correctly will speed ahead of those left behind; a classic case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. The tide at this point off of Ushant is due to turn favourable at approx. 15.00 BST.
The wind direction at the moment in this area is north-westerly. With the yachts racing in a southerly direction 'away' from the wind it has the apparent wind speed of being less than its actual 8 knots. This is why sailing dead down wind is the slowest point of sail. If you combine this with the 5 to 6 knots of adverse tide produced by the tidal gate then you can begin to appreciate that perhaps the racing yacht's progress will be arrested.
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