Drag racing in Yellow Sea for Clipper fleet

Durban 2010 and Beyond in heavy seas - Clipper 07-08
The drag race down through the Yellow Sea to Japan has continued during the 24 hours and the winners are those that have not broken anything. The leading pack of New York, Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper and Hull & Humber have reported that everything is going well and none have had any breakages in these extreme downwind conditions.

Liverpool 08 reported a broken guy during the day yesterday and further down the fleet, Durban 2010 and Beyond has been pushing hard to make up ground on the leaders - maybe a little too hard, judging by skipper Ricky Chalmers's
email to the Race Office this morning.

'Last night was a bit manic,' he writes. 'An accidental gybe broke the double preventer lines and sent the boom crashing across the deck. The main sheet caught on the mainsheet winch and we were left with little option but to gybe back to try to clear it. This decision was also prompted by the headsail flogging itself to death behind the main. All too familiar visions of a pole spearing the main came to mind.' He continues, 'Today was a day for fixing stuff. We have a functional boat again. Minimal damage and, most importantly, no injuries.'

Clipper Race Director, Joff Bailey, says, 'It is a tricky balance between pushing too hard and keeping the boat in one piece. With 4000 nautical miles left in this race it is better to lose a couple of miles than break a spinnaker pole by pushing too hard.' Even westernaustralia2011.com who decided to ease into the race rather than go hell for leather in the first few days has had a few challenges to overcome. 'So much for a conservative start!' says skipper, Martin Silk.
'Soon after hoisting the 2.2oz kite yesterday it was broaching time... Chris decided the winches on starboard all needed a wash and while they were being washed, the pole broke. This led to the spinnaker going under the boat,
halyards being cut and a slight confidence lack for the team. This morning we tried again; firstly with the medium weight which caught on a hank, then the 2.2oz again until the guy snapped. Maybe we are destined to sail under poled out Yankee for a few more hours yet?' Tactics are now coming into play and the next decision will be have to be made later today as the teams approach the southern tip of Japan. Uniquely Singapore is in an interesting position as the most southerly boat, a move that could pay off - and so far they have not broken any equipment.

As Mark Preedy, skipper of the Singaporean entry reports, they and Jamaica have had to dodge some large fishing fleets as they make the decision on the most effective tactic to get out into open waters of the Pacific. 'We had a lively night surfing and negotiating a large number of fishing vessels. We are now in clearer waters and making our way to the south of Japan and waiting for the position reports to decide how best to get into the Pacific.

'Do we cover the fleet that is more than likely heading for the shortest distance route, or do we go further south and try to get slightly more wind and a better angle on the wind once we are in the Pacific? It's the classic dilemma: do we chase the wind or do we go the shortest route?

With the winds still between 25 - 40 knots from the north, later today the teams should fly like a cork from a champagne bottle out of the relative confines of the Yellow/East China Sea into the wide open expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the largest ocean on Earth.

The first of the yachts are due to arrive in the next port of call, Honolulu in Hawaii, on approximately 20 March. The fleet will be berthed in the Ala Wai Small Yacht Harbour.

POSITIONS AT 1200 GMT, 27 FEBRUARY 2008

1. Hull & Humber: Distance to Finish (DTF) 3857
2. New York: DTF 3857 (Distance to Leader 0)
3. Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper: DTF 3861 (+4) [position at 1225]
4. Liverpool 08: DTF 3866 (+9)
5. Qingdao: DTF 3900 (+43)
6. Uniquely Singapore: DTF 3902 (+43)
7. Nova Scotia: DTF 3904 (+47)
8. westernaustralia2011.com: DTF 3936 (+79)
9. Durban 2010 and Beyond: DTF 3961 (+104) [position at 0600]
10. Jamaica: DTF 3993 (+136)

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