Clipper - Qingdao regains lead from Glasgow

Durban 2010 and Beyond crosses Uniquely Singapore at the start - Clipper 07-08

With only 14 Nm covering the first five Clipper boats the fleet has now spread out into a broad arch, storming southwards as the skippers analyse the forecast weather and decide whether to play for the short term or longer term gains. Glasgow who were nominally leading at the midnight report are now in sixth place. Qingdao has retaken the lead with New York in second place and Uniquely Singapore third.

Nova Scotia was one of the first of the fleet to gybe offshore into these winds, which initially cost them some miles to the finish, but their early move allowed them to make a faster sailing angle back across the fleet. They have since swapped places with Hull & Humber, seeing each other as their paths crossed overnight, and moved into fourth.

The offshore track is providing the stronger winds for the next few days but there is a lighter patch developing further south which could cause those further offshore to slow down markedly. With the wind behind them, the fleet will be trying to avoid a dead run in light winds which will significantly slow them down. Playing the land/sea breezes further inshore might be their best option.

That is a little way off for now and two of the teams have had other challenges to deal with. Liverpool 08 and Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper both reported major spinnaker wraps which took 4 hours and 7 hours respectively to unwind.

'It was baptism of fire for the new folks night one,' says Hannah Jenner, skipper of the Scottish entry which, until this point in Clipper 07-08, had managed to avoid spinnaker wraps altogether.

Liverpool 08 skipper Ben Galloway says, 'We spent four hours with the 2.2 wrapped around the forestay this morning just as we were hoisting the anti-wrap. Four people including me took it in turns to unwrap it from the top. Thoughts of getting out my Leatherman were there but fortunately we persevered and got it down in one piece with only a couple of small holes which are now all fixed up.'

Race Secretary, Lizzie Nicholas, says, 'It can be the case that the spinnaker wraps itself so tightly around the forestay or inner forestay that it must be cut off, rendering the sail irreparable, but with 2,800 downwind miles to go on this race alone, that must remain the very last resort.'

Sunset over the Pacific on ANZAC Day from onboard - Clipper 07-08 has continued on the same inshore tactic that we saw at the start line, when she dipped around the Committee boat and close tacked up the inshore line, most favoured by the locals. This did give her some advantage but as she rounded the windward mark and peeled off south she was forced to change up to a yankee 1 to keep up with the fleet. They are now 50Nm behind the leader.

Skipper Martin Silk says, 'Conservative would best describe last night; no breakages, confidence building and productive as we now find ourselves alongside the fleet leaders. It has been one of the finest days’ sailing for a long time, regular seas and constant breeze as our new rig seems to be delivering the goods. Maybe it’s payback time for our dismasting; the bad luck followed by the hard graft to race again? As we settle in to our first night under spinnaker, the helming is now deliberate and we realise it’s almost two months since we were last sailing downwind! At least we haven’t forgotten how as the race to win continues…'

Whether inshore or offshore, the crew are all enjoying dusting off their downwind sailing skills learned in training or honing the talents they developed en route from Qingdao to Hawaii. With the temperature beginning to hot up too, as Durban 2010 and Beyond skipper Ricky Chalmers says, 'In a few days we’ll start to hear complaints of it being too hot again!'

Clipper - Positions - DTF - DTL at 06:00 Hrs 27 April 2008

1 Qingdao 2624nm 0nm
2 New York 2626 2
3 Uniquely Singapore 2630 6
4 Nova Scotia 2631 7
5 Durban 2010 and Beyond 2638 14
6 Glasgow:Scotland with style 2660 36
7 Jamaica 2662 38
8 Hull & Humber 2671 47
9 2674 50
10 Liverpool 08 2683 59