Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2011-2012 third race, from Rio De Janeiro in Brazil to Cape Town, is currently underway.
De Lage Landen races past Sugar Loaf Mountain at the start of Race 3 of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race
De Lage Landen managed to pull into the lead overnight as the teams opting for a more easterly course extended their gains.
But with two boats within five miles of the Dutch team, the pressure is on as Qingdao and Visit Finland are within striking distance with more than 3,000 miles to go in race three from Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town.
The boats to the south are taking a hit in terms of their current standings in the hope that they will pick up the westerlies ahead of the rest of the fleet.
De Lage Landen skipper, Stuart Jackson, said his crew was 'very excited' to continue the battle for first place although an unfavourable wind shift had forced them to revert to white sails.
'The change of weather conditions forced the three leading boats to abandon their spinnaker run and a wonderful first 24 hours came to an end when Visit Finland appeared on the AIS,' Stuart reports, referring to the Automatic Identification System that is fitted on board each of the ten Clipper 68s to identify vessels in the vicinity.
On Qingdao skipper Ian Conchie reports that his crew is working hard to ensure their easterly track pays off.
'Yesterday the crew was kept busy with a day of sail changes from spinnakers to Yankee headsails to continually maximise our boat speed,' Ian said.
With such close quarters racing, one mistake can cost dearly as Ian and his team learnt yesterday.
'Unfortunately we got caught with the wrong sails up when the wind increased meaning we had to run without a headsail for 30 minutes while we reset everything which cost us time on De Lage Landen,' Ian said, adding that his team is continuing to push hard to break through to the westerly winds that should speed his team on its way to Cape Town.
On Visit Finland, skipper Olly Osborne is closely monitoring how the different tactics pan out at the start of this 3,300-mile race to Cape Town. Currently just five miles behind the leaders, Olly and his team have also opted for an easterly course and logged the best 12-hour run in the last position report covering a total of 109 nautical miles.
'Our second night at sea has been a lot more favourable wind wise than the last, and I think all the boats will want to make as much distance as possible while the stronger breeze is still here,' Olly said.
With the stopover in Rio marking the end of Leg 1, each of the ten boats has had a number of crew changes. Although the teams had to bid farewell to people who were only taking part in Leg one, they also welcomed new crew members and will be busy integrating them into the established patterns of life on board.
After their first Atlantic crossing of the 40,000-mile round the world race, the crew will be sharing everything they have already learned about trimming and helming for maximum speed. 'Our new crew members who joined the boat in Rio are doing really well, and it is great to have such fresh enthusiasm and excitement on board again,' Olly said.
On Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, skills and experience are also being shared with new crew. 'The lessons learnt on Leg 1 are all being put to good use on Leg two and at our daily midday team meeting, tips are being shared with our newly-joined crew,' skipper Gordon Reid, said.
The two Australian-backed boats continue to head south and are currently occupying the last two places on the leader board, with Gold Coast Australia lying in ninth place and Geraldton Western Australia in tenth.
Geraldton Western Australia at the start of Race 3 of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race
On Geraldton Western Australia, skipper Juan Coetzer believes that his team’s tactics are starting to pay off.
'The more south we head, the more the wind increases. Today was spent putting reefs in and out to make the most of the conditions. Before nightfall we changed from Yankee 1 down to Yankee 2 in record time shortly followed by putting the first reef in the main and then the second,' Juan reports.
The Geraldton Western Australia crew is also feeling the climatic effects of their dive south. 'It's already getting colder on this leg than the previous one with full foul weather gear already,' Juan said.
Gold Coast Australia is currently engaged in a ding-dong with Singapore for the most southerly position with just a mile separating the two boats, as both teams battle to reach the wind first.
'Once again we’re in a tussle with Singapore as we fight our way towards a large pressure belt to the south of our current position. The winner will get to the wind first,' Gold Coast Australia skipper Richard Hewson said.
'Once in the stronger winds, we will be able to ease sheets and literally fly with the wind and surf the waves most of the way to Cape Town,' Richard added.
Despite conceding ground to the boats to the east, Richard remains confident that his tactics will pay off.
'The initial gains made by the rest of the fleet were slightly greater than I was expecting but there is still a long way to go and it is definitely not the first time that Gold Coast Australia has been in this position at this stage of a race,' Richard said.
Between the two easterly and southerly groups, three boats comprising Welcome to Yorkshire, Edinburgh Inspiring Capital and New York are hedging their bets in the middle of the fleet.
On Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, skipper Gordon Reid said his team’s decision to take a route slightly south of the normal Great Circle has paid dividends.
'We have moved into a nice thick band of south westerly breeze, and as the wind continues to build and veer we should be able to start flying our spinnaker,' Gordon said, adding that his team intends to take advantage of the increasing winds on the edge of the forming South Atlantic gale.
'We’re hoping that we don’t get too close to either the centre of the fast moving low or the middle of the South Atlantic High which appears to be right in line with the Scoring Gate,' Gordon said.
Race three from Rio de Janeiro includes a Scoring Gate, with the boats crossing first, second and third winning three, two and one bonus points respectively, and an Ocean Sprint between five degrees west and two degrees east - approximately 420 miles as the albatross flies - with another bonus point available to the fastest crew to cover the distance.
On New York, crew member Ian Moulding reports that life is settling into a routine as they enjoyed a full moon, flat seas and good wind.
For the Leg two crew on New York, yesterday was a day of firsts. 'We saw the first flying fish, the first dolphin pod and the first, of many, appearances of the spinnaker. At first light we could see a couple of our competitors on the horizon but tonight we are all alone in our patch of the South Atlantic,' Ian said.
Along with the rest of the fleet, New York is hunting for the breeze to power them to Cape Town. 'Our objective yesterday was to find the sweet spot of wind between the high pressure system to the north of us and the low coming up from the south. We found it early afternoon and ever since we’ve been making great boat speed towards our goal of maximum Scoring Gate points,' Ian said.
Derry-Londonderry at the start of Race 3 of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race
Mark Light on Derry-Londonderry said Leg two had started well for his team and they had enjoyed good boat speed, being one of the six boats to log a 12-hour run of over 100 miles.
As the last boat into Rio de Janeiro at the end of Race two, the Derry-Londonderry crew had their work cut out to prepare for the start of Leg two on Saturday.
'As a team we enjoyed our stop in Rio but everyone also worked tremendously hard to turn the boat around and make sure she was fit and ready to go back to duel with the South Atlantic Ocean once again,' Mark said.
Mark added he was very happy following an informative and well-structured crew briefing focusing on how the Derry-Londonderry crew operates as a team with the aim of picking up a podium place into Cape Town.
Currently lying in fifth place, Mark is confident his team can move up the leader board. 'We’ll see what unfolds throughout Leg two, but definitely keep your eyes open for a Derry-Londonderry charge!' he said.
The fleet is expected to arrive in Cape Town between 26 and 29 September where they will be berthed at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront until the start of Leg three to Geraldton in Western Australia on 5 October.
Positions at 0900 UTC, Monday 12 September
Boat - DTF*
1 De Lage Landen - 3011nm
2 Qingdao - 3015nm (+4nm DTL**)
3 Visit Finland - 3016nm (+5nm)
4 Welcome to Yorkshire - 3025nm (+14nm)
5 Derry-Londonderry - 3025nm (+14nm)
6 New York - 3033nm (+22nm)
7 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital - 3037nm (+26nm)
8 Singapore - 3037nm (+26nm)
9 Gold Coast Australia - 3038nm (+27nm)
10 Geraldton Western Australia - 3058nm (+47nm)
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