Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race fleet are currently on day nine of race seven, from the Gold Coast to Singapore.
Geraldton Western Australia and Welcome to Yorkshire - Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race
The New Year has brought mixed fortunes for the ten internationally backed teams taking part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race with Geraldton Western Australia starting 2012 in pole position in the marathon race to Singapore.
'What a great way to start the New Year - leading the Clipper Race fleet into a new dawn,' reports the Australian team’s skipper, Juan Coetzer.
'We celebrated the New Year at lunch time today with some bubbly and a shot of whisky. We had a chat with Gold Coast Australia today and exchanged seasonal greetings, before we both went our separate ways.
'The crew from Geraldton Western Australia wish all their loved ones a splendid New Year and encourage people to live out their dreams.'
Currently six miles ahead of their Australian rivals, Geraldton Western Australia have decided upon a westerly approach to the New Ireland waypoint compared to Gold Coast Australia’s easterly course.
Skipper of Gold Coast Australia, Richard Hewson, also revealed how his team celebrated the New Year.
'After drifting around for the majority of the day yesterday, the wind finally began to fill in at sunset just in time for New Year’s Eve sunset drinks with a pirate theme.
'After a brief disco on deck including glow sticks and strobe lights the focus resumed back on yacht racing and we began to make up the miles that Geraldton Western Australia had made on us throughout the day,' continues Richard, who hopes to claim the team’s sixth yellow pennant of Clipper 11-12.
'At midnight we had a fantastic breeze and Gold Coast Australia was buzzing along at a great speed as we counted down to the New Year and celebrated with some champagne courtesy of Babs, one of our round the world crew members.'
2012 has not brought every team good fortune as Singapore lost ground on sparring partner Qingdao in the battle for third place.
'Yesterday evening was incredibly frustrating for team Singapore. The usual bout of squalls hit us shortly before sunset and for a while we were making excellent progress to the north north west,' explains Ben Bowley, skipper of the Singaporean entry.
'Qingdao was not far off on the horizon and we assumed that they were to experience the same weather as us. This was sadly not the case and after the squalls had past we sat in a wind hole for around three hours, watching Qingdao charge off to the north at around six knots, totally powerless to change our predicament.'
Currently sixteen miles behind the Chinese entry, the Singapore team will hope their luck changes over the coming days.
'Hopefully we are starting to see the end of the squally conditions and we shall get some more consistent breezes. There is still a long beat ahead of us before we are free from the clutches of the Solomon Sea and we are likely to have a hard job of it clawing back our lost miles on Qingdao. For the moment though it is good to be moving at good pace, even if the motion is a little uncomfortable and spray prevents the opening of deck hatches.'
As is New Year’s tradition, resolutions have been made and Ben revealed his team’s for the remainder of the world’s longest yacht race.
'Our team resolution is to get more podiums! The crew of Singapore and I would like to wish everyone a prosperous and successful 2012.'
Every team’s misfortune with wind conditions can easily become another’s advantage as Qingdao celebrated the New Year with the present of gained miles over Singapore.
'Another day of variable winds and our old sparring partner Singapore to chase yesterday until late afternoon when the wind started to drop we decided to tack east to try and find some wind,' explains skipper, Ian Conchie.
'Initially the plan did not look successful as we watched Singapore make it through the light patch and into some breeze behind but as the evening closed in the squalls came and we benefited from being east of them and managed to sail up the eastern side and miss all of them.
'The skipper of another boat even radioed us to check that our AIS data was correct as they were stationary at the time!' continues Ian.
'We decided to have an early New Year’s Eve celebration so the whole crew gathered at sunset to celebrate and see in the New Year with lots of jokes and laughter. Through the night we have continued to beat our way north closing in on New Ireland. Whilst we are making good boat speed this sort of sailing comes with one major drawback, we have to have the hatches shut to stop the water pouring down below which raises the temperature even higher in the main accommodation.'
Meanwhile Dutch entry, De Lage Landen, also enjoyed the start of 2012 with gains over the their closest rivals. Finding themselves in eighth place yesterday, the team now sits in sixth place, just five miles behind Derry-Londonderry in fifth.
'Happy New Year everyone! With the New Year we seem to have new favourable winds in our sails,' reports Stuart.
'Since last night we are finally making good progress again. There are still a lot of miles to catch up with the front runners, but we are making some very good progress. Since last night we have had very stable conditions, no squalls during the whole night, as if Mother Nature wanted to give us a break to celebrate New Year’s Eve properly. What a lovely sailing conditions.'
Hoping to reel in fourth placed Singapore while keeping De Lage Landen behind them is Derry-Londonderry, skippered by Mark Light.
'Seems a long time ago now that we all set off from Southampton on Sunday 31 July 2011 and a lot of sea miles have been covered with a lot of water passing under our keel.
'On Derry-Londonderry we celebrated the dawning of the New Year as a team on deck with some whiskey, lots of singing and a glass of port to finish off with. We are blessed on this boat with some wonderful voices so thankfully the skipper’s voice (for once!) is not heard... no great loss!
'Meanwhile we are sailing well and keeping ourselves in contention with the frontrunners and with the ever changing conditions we are ready and waiting to capitalise on any mistakes and to take advantage of any favourable wind shifts.
'I would like to wish everybody at home and in the city of Derry-Londonderry a very happy, healthy and successful New Year!' signs off Mark.
'Life on board Visit Finland is ticking along fairly well on the whole,' reveals Olly Osborne, skipper of the Finnish entry.
'We are finding ways to get round the heat by installing fans in the galley and modifying our wind scoop so that it can be used in heavier weather.
'Last night we saw in the New Year with a tot of rum at the evening watch change, and everybody really enjoyed the moment in the cool of the evening,' continues Olly, whose team spent the early part of 2012 slipping down the race position table.
'Falling back from fifth to eighth over the last couple of days has been frustrating but none the less the fleet is still very close and the squally weather can often deal a very different hand to one boat over the others nearby. We will see how things reshuffle on the way up to the New Ireland and I am hoping to put us in a stronger position for the Equatorial trades as we bear off and start the west going part of this race. So wishing a very happy New Year to all at home,' Olly signs off.
With the fleet approaching New Britain Island and the waypoint of New Ireland it may not come as a surprise to find British entries Welcome to Yorkshire and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital battling it out.
'The morning at first light we spotted the Yorkshire team on AIS giving chase, then bang, in came a massive squall, during which we reefed and tacked to shake them off,' explains Gordon Reid, skipper of the Scottish entry.
'All day they have been hot on our heels and we are currently sailing a fairly parallel course just out in front. The sight of another yacht so close has energised the crew who are determined to stay ahead.'
The crew on board Edinburgh Inspiring Capital experienced a traditional Scottish Hogmanay as they celebrated the New Year in style.
'Shake of hands, hugs and kisses, raise a glass to absent loved ones and auld acquaintances, then down with the dram of fine Scotch Single Malt Whisky, followed by a wee rendition of Auld Lang Syne, all dressed in our kilts under a beautiful star filled sky. Pretty surreal but one New Year celebration we will never forget.'
Meanwhile on board Welcome to Yorkshire, they had a New Year’s party to remember.
'You'll be pleased to know that we had a great time on board seeing in the New Year. Due to the relentless nature of ocean racing, where sleep between watches is at a premium, our two watches celebrated the occasion in at different times and in different ways,' says Rupert Dean, skipper of the Yorkshire team.
'However, we all got to do this together at mid-day today during our daily crew meeting. Well how did we celebrate? Port (aka Mega) Watch held a fancy dress party to see in the New Year, dressed as pirates. In between normal sail evolutions and trim checks, jokes were told, strange facts exchanged and a quiz held to keep all entertained. Starboard (aka Stupendous) Watch adopted a two-stage strategy, celebrating earlier in the evening at dinner with hats and Christmas crackers, finishing with a champagne breakfast the following morning.
'This morning we started 2012 in an enormous squall, which first saw us over-pressed then becalmed alongside Edinburgh Inspiring Capital. Since then we've been match racing our Scottish friends up the Solomon Sea, in our efforts to clear the waypoint at New Ireland. With the island of New Britain also nearby, the nomenclature on the Admiralty charts bring a homely feel to the race, even though we are half-way round the world from home!'
Positions at 0900 UTC, Sunday 1 January
Boat - DTF* DTL**
1 Geraldton Western Australia - 3295nm
2 Gold Coast Australia - 3302nm (+6nm)
3 Qingdao - 3323nm (+28nm)
4 Singapore - 3339nm (+44nm)
5 Derry-Londonderry - 3366nm (+71nm)
6 De Lage Landen - 3372nm (+76nm)
7 Visit Finland - 3373nm (+78nm)
8 New York - 3375nm (+80nm)
9 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital - 3381nm (+86nm)
10 Welcome to Yorkshire - 3384nm (+88nm)
DTF* = Distance to Finish, DTL** = Distance to Leader. Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found here.
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race website