Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race fleet is on the thirteenth day of race ten from Oakland, California to Panama. 'A day of Champagne sailing', is how one of the skippers describes the last 24 hours at sea for the ten-strong fleet – a clear sign of joy as winds start to pick up for the fleet closest to shore.
New York - The Clipper Race fleet left Jack London Square in Oakland on 14 April to start Race 10, to Panama - Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race
The past 24 hours has seen speeds going back up into double figure knots, especially for the more southerly positioned yachts, while there is still frustration over lack of wind for the more inshore part of the fleet.
New York have gone into their second Stealth Mode, meaning their position won’t be visible for anyone else than the Race Office until 0000UTC (27 April). 'It may be time for a re-think of our tactics as we get towards the end of this race,' says the American entries skipper, Gareth Glover.
The Ocean Sprint also continues with the English entry Welcome to Yorkshire was first to complete and set the time to beat of 36 hours 8 minutes 53seconds, as the whole fleet is now in the Ocean Sprint area.
Overall Race10 front runners, De Lage Landen, Visit Finland and Gold Coast Australia remain unchanged since yesterday with Gold Coast Australia narrowing in the distance to the Finnish entry by 17 miles compared to the 0900 UTC position Wednesday.
In the 0600 report to the Race Office skipper Olly Osborne from Visit Finland says, 'It has been an exciting 24 hours as the racing steps up a gear in some stronger breeze. We had a great run throughout the afternoon and enjoyed having the boat fully powered up under the medium weight spinnaker. The De Lage Landen team are still a little beyond our reach, but it is great to be able to maintain a position toward the top of the leader board after a run of poor results in the last few races.
'For the moment we are back to ghosting along under our lightweight beneath a bright starlit sky, and are hoping to sail the least miles possible throughout the night as we gybe our way through the fickle airs.'
De Lage Landen has over the past few days incurred several IT problems, which means they don’t have any functional laptops to send blogs and videos back. This is unlikely to be resolved until Panama. The Race Office is still in telephone contact with the Dutch entry and providing a safety cover.
Advising the Race Office by telephone this morning, skipper Stuart Jackson says, 'The conditions, which remain light, continue to make sailing difficult. We have had slightly more breeze this evening which has refocused our attention. We are very pleased with their current position and are keeping pushing to keep ahead of the boats further offshore.'
Currently in third position is Gold Coast Australia skipper, Richard Hewson says, 'Gold Coast Australia has sailed with good wind throughout the night and into the morning making good speed down the Mexican coast. Unfortunately our speed was not as good as the yachts closer inshore and they made a few miles on us over night.
'Light winds plagued us for the majority of the morning but as the wind shifted further to the west it began to increase again, and in the afternoon we had to change to our medium weight spinnaker which we held until just after sunset.'
The Australian entry also found time to continue to honour Australian Anzac day yesterday – remembering the Australian and New Zealand Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen who fought gallantly and have devoted their lives for the freedom of Australia.
'As the sun rose into Anzac day we paid our thoughts and Wayne Reed conducted a short service as we hoisted the Australian Ensign and lowered it to half-mast and observed two minutes silence,' continues Richard.
Qingdao - The Clipper Race fleet left Jack London Square in Oakland on 14 April to start Race 10, to Panama - Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race
With crew from over 40 nationalities, the race is also an opportunity for crew to learn more about each other’s cultures. Qingdao’s skipper Ian Conchie says, 'We also celebrated Anzac day with a homemade wreath and Phil Culpan our kiwi crew member explaining the day and laying the wreath.'
The Chinese entry has also enjoyed the more favourable inshore conditions at sea, despite a hick-up with their spinnaker.
'Last night the light airs continued and we managed to rip a spinnaker when it got caught around the bow roller but a quick change and repair and it was all sorted.
'Well after days of light airs sailing today was most definitely a day of Champagne sailing! This morning the wind started to fill and by mid day we have to change down to our medium weight spinnaker as the wind built to a steady ten knots apparent. The wind continued to build through the afternoon and saw us getting the boat speed into double digits for the first time in many days!
'Now we just have to hope it continues. The wind dropped after sunset as normal but we hope it will return tomorrow. We have managed to recover some of the ground we lost today so if the wind continues we are hopeful that we can keep our recovery going. We have had had New York on the horizon today so it’s nice to see they have also finally got the benefit after we both stuck to the inshore route.'
Describing the last 24 hours at sea New York skipper Gareth Glover says, 'It has been a much better days racing on New York as the wind build over the morning and speeds in double figures for a few hours, this means we gained some miles and moved back up the leader board for the time being. But the lead yachts also had a good days racing and they stay the same distance to finish from us.'
Entering their second Stealth Mode of Race 10, meaning their position won’t be known to anyone else than the Race Office until 0000 27April.
'We have now playing are Stealth Mode as we have being working the shore for the past five days and not getting closer to the top yachts it may be time for a re-think of our tactics as we get towards the end of this race.'
Meanwhile Welcome to Yorkshire has finished the Ocean Sprint at 01:30:19 UTC this morning setting the time to beat at 36 hours 8 minutes 53seconds. The fastest yacht through 90 mile Ocean Sprint will get a vital additional point.
Skipper Rupert Dean says, 'Another day of relentless heat and elusive wind on Welcome to Yorkshire. With our 'Ocean Sprint' over, our new focus is on the approaching compulsory gates, any one of which could be selected as the finish by the Clipper Race Team.
'Considering our position out west, we have quite a dilemma on our hands. Do we gybe east towards stronger breeze, or do we focus on minimising distance and maximising Velocity Made Good to each gate? The former risks losing miles to those remaining on the making gybe. The latter risks being outflanked by competitors to our north east who, over the next few days, are forecast to have stronger winds. Time will tell.'
However, on board Singapore the situation is more frustrating as they have seen their position drop to tenth. Skipper Ben Bowley says, 'It's not been our best day aboard Singapore today. We have watched our position fall to tenth due to our offshore position and according to the new weather, we need to get further inshore to maximise this small band of slightly stronger breeze properly.
'The heat and humidity have cranked up another notch and although still preferable to being trashed in the north pacific, it is getting a little oppressive now! On the positive side, we have had some good breezes today that have raised our boat speeds to more respectable figures than we have seen for some time. Hopefully this shall means the race shall not be called short just yet and we get the chance to improve on our not so great position over the coming few days!'
Also hunting down more wind is Derry-Londonderry. Skipper Mark Light reports, 'Great effort over the past 24 hours, but a disappointing result. Despite all our hard work we have slipped down the leader board over the last few position reports. We did well last night to make our way south in the hope of finding the elusive wind but although the forecasts pointed to more wind initially further south we found that the boats further north had more favourable conditions and were sailing at between nine and ten knots almost all day.
'Our leader board position is all based on distance to finish figures so ninth position is not great but it is by virtue of us being so far to the south. We know that we are more than capable of hunting down the other Clipper Race yachts and we also know that this race has over 1400 miles to go.
'We are well aware that this race may be called at any time due to lack of wind so it is up to us to make sure that we get ourselves in a decent position in preparation for that. Everybody on board, however, would prefer to be able to race all the way. One last thing.......we are currently in ‘sprint’ mode having entered the Ocean Sprint yesterday afternoon.'
Meanwhile in the middle of the fleet is Geraldton Western Australia. Skipper Juan Coetzer reflects on hoe experienced the crew has become after over nine months at sea.
'Morning once again started off with a drift. As the wind began fill in, it shifted 15- 40 degrees. So, trying to maintain a proper course meant we had to constantly gybe. Back in training days, a kite gybe would almost take up to onehour. These days it takes less than ten minutes, from putting up the new pole to lowering the old and tiding the deck. As the wind fill, our boat speed picked up, so much so that a kite peel was required. Not a problem for the Geraldton Western Australia crew as they rock!'
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 20120414 onEdition 2012© Free for editorial use image, please credit: Abner Kingman/onEdition. FOR ADDITIONAL IMAGES FROM THE RACE PLEASE VISIT: http://www.w-w-i.com/clipper_1112_race/. The Clipper Race fleet left Jack London Square in Oakland on 14 April to start Race 10, to Panama, escorted by US Coast Guard cutter Sockeye. The Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race started from Southampton on the south coast of the UK on 31 July 2011. The route will take the crews of the ten, identical
Moving up a place on the leader board is Edinburgh Inspiring Capital. Skipper Flavio Zamboni says, 'Good day sailing today. After losing the breeze last night, it came back just before dawn this morning. Since then it has been building consistently and we've made good progress although it seems the guys inshore got it first.
'We'll see how we come out in the rankings after tonight. It was certainly good getting sailing again and hopefully this breeze we'll stay with us for a little longer.'
The Race Committee is keeping an eye on the current progress of the fleet in the light airs in order to ensure it traverses through the Panama Canal in advance of the canal’s planned maintenance.
Race 10 has provision for four additional finish lines to accommodate the potential need to shorten the course and reach the scheduled canal transit time.
Positions at 0900 UTC, Thursday 26 April 2012
Boat - DTF*
1. De Lage Landen - 1328nm*
2. Gold Coast Australia - 1336nm (7nm**)
3. Visit Finland - 1342nm (14nm)
4. Welcome to Yorkshire - 1368nm (40nm)
5. Geraldton Western Australia - 1386nm (58nm)
6. Qingdao - 1414nm (86nm)
7. Edinburgh Inspiring Capital - 1432nm (104nm)
8. Derry-Londonderry - 1436nm (108nm)
9. Singapore - 1468nm (140nm)
10. New York - 1475nm (146nm) Stealth
*DTF = Distance to Finish, **DTL = Distance to Leader. Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found online.
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race website