Dowling set for 'line honours' but he vows to push for Round Ireland prize
The leading boats in the Volvo Round Ireland Race are expected to reach the Wicklow finishing-line this afternoon as winds turn light for the 42 teams left in the race.
Niall Dowling on Baraka Gp has retained first place on the water after passing Rathlin Island off the Antrim coast yesterday evening in spite of the strong ebb tide.
On form and notwithstanding a major upset, Dowling and his professional crew are expected to claim 'line honours' at Wicklow Sailing Club ahead of two French entries, a 60-footer and an Open 40-footer.
However, a finish exactly four days after the start of the race is unlikely to lead to overall race victory as the race is decided on IRC handicap corrected time. Dowling almost conceded last night but with 150 miles remaining would not rule out a turnaround in fortunes.
"Considering it's a slower race than expected, we'd be very happy with line honours but that doesn't mean we're not going to keep pushing hard," he said shortly after passing Rathlin Island.
But as always with the race, the course still has several key hurdles for the main pack to clear including the Rathlin tidal gate plus a light-winds forecast.
However, the forecast is for more northerly breezes, and even if light these will favour smaller entries.