Congratulations to Pamela Lee and Cat Hunt who have set a new record by sailing around Ireland on a Beneteau Figaro III

Pamela Lee and Cat Hunt have set an around Ireland record for an all-female crew. They also beat the previous double-handed record and the existing under 40ft monohull record.

The duo crossed the finishing line just after 3am on Saturday, 17 October, with a provisional time of three days, 20 hours, 29 minutes.

They sailed a total of 761 nautical miles in a Beneteau Figaro III yacht, Iarracht Maigeanta (Éire) .

Pamela Lee and Catherine Hunt_Rescue 118_Irish Coast Guard

Pamela Lee and Cat Hunt. Credit Rescue 118/Irish Coast Guard

How it all began

The Magenta Project reports: ‘The idea began in France, when Pamela Lee, of Greystones, was assisting Kenny Rumball in his first La Solitaire du Figaro, France’s premier offshore single-handed event took place in September this year.

‘It was suggested by the boat owner Marcus Hutchinson that Pamela finds herself another female crew and take the boat to Ireland to set the first double handed all female record attempt around Ireland.

‘A week later that boat left its home in France for Greystones Marina in Wicklow. Pamela contacted Catherine Hunt, a young experienced British sailor to team up for the attempt.

‘The two started in earnest and began doing short sails to get familiar with the boat and its systems before they would eventually go on to finish what now is a World Record.’

The circumnavigation

Safety-conscious Lee and Hunt conducted a series of training briefs with Kenny Rumball director of the Irish National Sailing School, before crossing the starting line between Kish Lighthouse to Dun Laoghaire East pier, on 12 October at 07:45.

Their main objective was to sail the course around Ireland and set the first record as no previous records had been ratified until now.

Mentoring and help was also provided by the Magenta Project – an international collective committed to developing pathways and generating opportunities for women in performance sailing.

The duo’s navigational routing for the attempt came from professional offshore sailor Miles Seddon,

The Magenta Project reports: ‘It was going to be a hard sail with winds in excess of 20 knots but in the right direction.

‘They rocketed down the east coast turning at Tuskar Rock and merely gone just over 12 hours they found themselves due south of Cork Harbour.

‘At this point an ever growing online fan base knew something special was happening.

‘To reach this point of the course in the time they were setting it was now a real possibility that the previous double handed record of Aodhan Fitzgerald and Yannick Lemonnier in a Figaro II in the 2004 which was set during the bi-annual Round Ireland Yacht Race of four days and six hours was very possible to beat also.’

Lee and Hunt rounded the famous Fastnet Rock in the early hours of Wednesday, 14 October.

They operated a two hour on and off watch system, and achieved 240 miles  on the first day.

The Magenta Project report continues: ‘The west coast was eaten up in blistering time and on Thursday morning they were already starting to cross Donegal Bay.

‘A special surprise was in store for them, as Rescue 118 the search and rescue helicopter based out of Sligo airport came for a true Top Gun style fly by.’

Continues below…

Pamela Lee and Catherine Hunt who are trying to set the first all-female doublehanded Round Ireland record

Pamela Lee and Cat Hunt

A worrying time

The North East coast of Ireland has always been one of the most difficult parts of the country’s waters to navigate, due to a combination of narrow channels, strong flowing tidal systems and a traffic separation scheme.

Lee and Hunt successfully emerged from this stretch of coastline. By mid morning on Friday, 16 October, Iarracht Maigeanta (Éire) had reached the entrance of Belfast Harbour.

With just over 100 miles to sail however, the wind died off. Several hours passed and the record breaking double handed title looked increasingly unlikely.

Around 4pm Friday evening the tide changed direction and now assisted back on course, the wind came back in strong and Lee and Hunt were focused for the finishing line.

Successful finish

Just after 3am, Lee and Hunt completed their 761-mile voyage and pending ratification from WSSRC are the first to set an Around Ireland record for an all-female crew. They also beat the previous double-handed record and the existing under 40ft monohull record.

Pamela Lee and Catherine Hunt_Rescue 118_Irish Coast Guard

Pamela Lee and Catherine Hunt sailing their Beneteau Figaro III. Credit: Rescue 118/Irish Coast Guard

The record has prompted a great response globally in the sailing community, with best wishes being sent in from as far as a field as Australia and America.

The yellow brick tracker was sponsored by ISORA and Hendrick Ryan.

The final exact times and records that were both set and broken will be known when the WSSRC receives all the relevant paperwork and tracking devices.