Clipper Round the World Race – Gold Coast Australia in Stealth Mode
by Heather Ewing on 15 Aug 2011
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is divided in to a series of eight legs. The second race in leg one started in Madeira and will finish in Rio De Janeiro.
Gold Coast Australia set sail in race two (from Madeira to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race onEdition © http://www.onEdition.com
The leading boats are just 300 miles away from the Scoring Gate and the stage is set for a very interesting 36 hours as they jockey for position to gain the additional three race points on offer there.
Race Director, Joff Bailey, comments, 'At the moment it looks like any of the leading four teams have a good chance of getting these extra points but until Gold Coast Australia comes out of Stealth Mode at 1200GMT today we don’t know if five teams will be in the hunt. We should know who has chosen the right tactics sometime on Tuesday. It is worth remembering that the Scoring Gate is optional and may not be on the fastest route to the finish and therefore some of the teams may have their eyes firmly set on the ten points for winning the race rather than three, two or one at the Scoring Gate.'
A full explanation of the Scoring Gate, Ocean Sprint and Stealth Mode options in this race can be found on the Race Office Commentary on the Clipper website
Looking at the more general tactics being employed by the fleet, Joff says, 'With the exception of New York, who have stayed east but made big gains to the south, all the teams appear to be staying close to the rhumb line by regularly gybing ahead of the steady north easterly trades. This is by far the safest option in one design fleet racing as it is very difficult to sail very much faster than your competitors in a straight line and therefore you have to have a very good reason to sail the extra miles.
'Over the next 48 hours the strong winds that the fleet has been enjoying will start to move away to the west, this could leave New York a bit isolated unless they make a big move west soon.'
Undercover skipper, Richard Hewson on Gold Coast Australia says, 'It’s been an interesting night as we delved into Stealth Mode in an attempt to break away from our competitors.
'I have been down sick now for a nearly a day, so cannot be on deck as often as I would have liked, but I have been very impressed with the crew’s performance, sailing the boat without my advice. In a way quite a good test bed to know if something happens to me in the future the crew can sail fast and win the race and get me into port as soon as possible.'
Richard is on the mend and with the Gold Coast Australia crew set to come out of Stealth Mode at the midday update on the race viewer, Rupert Dean, skipper of Welcome to Yorkshire, who are currently in the lead, says, 'And so it goes on... two distinct groups of yachts running south southwest, some to the east, some to the west. Where they will cross the Doldrums is anyone's guess!
'We're heading deep downwind, gybing as appropriate to get us to our waypoint and 'possibly' through the Scoring Gate. It's good to be at the front and morale continues to be high - as it has been since Southampton.
'We're studying our daily grib files avidly to establish where to cross the Doldrums. A game plan is in hand, which will be tweaked to suit conditions as they unfold. As this is a crucial decision, the fleet is playing their cards close to their chests, with Gold Coast Australia already playing their 24-hour stealth joker.
'All’s well on Welcome to Yorkshire and Ann Finch's freshly baked bread on board yesterday was simply amazing. Bread quality is a hot topic (forgive pun) throughout the fleet with considerable pride shown by the mother watch in this discipline. Before the race, Ann completed a specialised bread making course run by a French chef and, by golly, it has proved to be a wise investment!'
It seems to be about the loaves and fishes on board today. With small luxuries like fresh baked bread to raise the morale, flying fish are causing a bit of a stink. It’s the first time the teams will have encountered them – and if you don’t get rid of them quickly from wherever they land, in this heat you soon know about it.
New York crew member, Andrew Priest, writes, 'Already formed into two watches to split the 24 hour day into two sets of on and off times, now we have a ‘fish watch’.
'This is not culinary in purpose – fish is not yet part of our diet, save for the omnipresent tins of tuna which accompany any expedition these days. Nor is it a formalisation of our constant scouring of the near horizon for bigger amphibious fellow travellers like dolphins, whales or indeed turtles.
'No, ‘fish watch’ has a single, but crucial mission - to clear our decks of still flapping or recently departed members of the flying fish family, which are now constant airborne hazards to New York and her crew. Our first sightings were several days ago but it was only on Saturday that the first daredevil, or was it kamikaze, fish, launched itself on one last mission from the waves of the Atlantic... into the shorts of Raghu.'
You can find out what happened next by reading Andrew’s report in full in the ‘Follow’ section on the Clipper website
Back with the sailing and Singapore’s crew have learned a hard lesson – but one that is better to learn early on in the campaign – as skipper, Ben Bowley, explains.
'Yesterday saw us getting stuck in a patch of very light wind that took us several hours to work our way out of. Eventually we were able to work our way back to the west and find some more wind with the loss of only one place. Last night, however, we threw away all our hard work of the previous night with one small error on the helm.
'At about 2200 a lapse in concentration meant that we ended up accidentally gybing and the medium spinnaker wrapped itself savagely around not just the forestay but also the inner forestay, pole, up-haul and anything else it could find up forward.
'Luckily the wind was light and the double preventers held but by the time we got back to course the kite was so badly wrapped that there was no chance of getting it unwrapped easily. The next couple of hours were spent tugging at sheets, easing halyards, gybing back and forth trying in vain to get the sail free whilst we drifted aimlessly around, watching other boats in the fleet overtake us again. In the end the only solution was to remove both the sheet and guy and try to unravel the sail from the forestay. Eventually we got the sail unwrapped and the result was a medium spinnaker flying like a flag from the mast-head. Some cunning manoeuvring enabled us to get it collapsed behind the mainsail and with brute force drag it back aboard. Damage? Nothing worse than four small tears which were swiftly patched up.
'We will learn from this experience and hopefully make sure it never happens again.'
With their renewed focus, Singapore’s crew are holding on to second place behind Welcome to Yorkshire, with Qingdao’s dragon breathing fire behind them.
Skipper, Ian Conchie, says, 'Everyone is adapting to life back on board now and the talk is of food and the Doldrums. Everyone is interested in ‘The Plan’ to cross them and all the skippers are keen to know each other’s plan. Most of the fleet appears to be west of us at the moment and the next decision for me is when to gybe back and join them, but then there is also the Scoring Gate...'
One team that has decided to forego the bonus points available at the Scoring Gate is De Lage Landen, whose skipper, Mat Booth, reports to the Race Office this morning, 'Tactically we've decided to not go for the Scoring Gate. A few days ago, before our port spinnaker pole snapped, we were in a lovely position to make it but, with our slower speed, the plan is now to line up for our passage of the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone – the Doldrums), so we're heading west.
'Crew morale is high as ever and as we continue to head South the boat is becoming more like a sauna, night time is a refreshing break from the heat.'
Juan Coetzer, skipper of Geraldton Western Australia, has a solution to give the crews a break from the heat as he gives another insight into living conditions on board. It’s clear his crew are enjoying the sailing conditions they’re experiencing on their first ocean crossing of the Clipper 11-12 Race.
Juan says, 'Awesome sailing conditions; we’ve had the kite up all day and night. Gybing (where the back of the yacht passes through the wind as opposed to tacking where it is the front of the yacht) is no longer an issue, the crew just get on with their roles and do it. It is really good to watch.
'Life below decks is not that easy, as it is a sweat box of smells in the ghetto. I decided to spoil the crew and got out the big fan. It is great just to blast out the old, stuffy air. We’ve just spotted Gold Coast Australia on AIS. The crew are excited and I am proud to be sailing with them on Geraldton Western Australia.'
The Derry-Londonderry crew’s attention has been on a spot of housekeeping in the last 24 hours, according to skipper, Mark Light, who says, 'The day started with the mysterious disappearance of our port heads toilet seat. The crew seemed very coy when asked about its whereabouts. After investigation it was revealed that in attempting to fix the shower drain in the ports heads the toilet seat was somewhat modified and re-distributed (i.e. broken and hidden!) by our loyal and hardworking bosun, Bazza. Once located, chief engineer, Tim, and his merry band set about repairs to the aforementioned article and we now have an amazing and very articulate fix to the problem. The engineering team was even going to apply some anti-chafe protection when I reminded them that it was just a seat for the toilet!
'Apart from that, we've had a spinnaker tear, a spinnaker wrap, a spinnaker trawl and a spinnaker recovery. Not bad for a day’s work.'
Derry-Londonderry’s new focus will be on chasing down Visit Finland, who are 12 miles closer to the finish line at Rio de Janeiro and locked in battle with Geraldton Western Australia.
Navigator, Tomi Lintonen, says the Finnish team has been kept on their toes by the changing wind through the last 24 hours.
'The forecast predicted winds in the 15 to 20 knot range but, in reality, we started the day in winds up to 30 knots diminishing to around ten knots in the afternoon,' he explains. 'Consequently, we went through the headsail wardrobe from poled out Yankee 2 to heavyweight spinnaker to medium to lightweight spinnaker during the course of the day. Towards the night, winds picked up again calling for further headsail changes. Thus, a busy day for the crew on foredeck and packing the spinnakers!
'Another prominent feature of the day has been a notable east-west divide in the fleet. Navigational decisions are not only influenced by predicted winds and the Canary current but also plans concerning the Scoring Gate north of the Cape Verde Islands. Furthermore, the east-west positions and courses taken now are likely to reflect the tactics of clearing the light winds of the Doldrums.
'Interestingly enough, the Doldrums seem now heavily affected by a monsoon trough extending off the coast of Western Africa and continuing all the way to a tropical wave currently located near the centre of the southern North Atlantic. The next couple of days will show how the different views pay off in terms of points at the Scoring Gate!'
There’s been a bit of housekeeping on board Edinburgh Inspiring Capital as well.
'Everything needs to be inspected and serviced twice a day on the purple beastie, to make sure we win the battle with the ocean racers biggest enemy, chafe,' says skipper, Gordon Reid. 'So far, with the keen eye, dedication and commitment of the crew, we are all over it!'
Changing wind conditions have also kept them busy – and honing new techniques that will give them a competitive edge.
'The wind is veering between north to northeast then backing to north northeast every few hours so there was lots of gybing done yesterday and last night. The new favourite method is the dip pole gybe which, with such a large pole, takes a bit of skill and good preparation. The crew have shaved minutes off the time and are continually improving as they all get to know the boat and how to find efficiencies. With a few words of encouragement from the skipper they are learning fast. NMA! (No Messing Around!)
'As the mother watch bakes another delicious loaf of bread and prepares the day’s menu, the highly motivated and focused crew are driving Edinburgh Inspiring Capital fast on our roller-coaster ride south. Lovin’ it!'
Positions at 0900 UTC, Monday 15 August
Boat / DTF*
1 Welcome to Yorkshire 3,109nm
2 Singapore / 3,123nm (+13nm DTL**)
3 Qingdao / 3,127nm (+18nm)
4 Geraldton Western Australia / 3,127nm (+18nm)
5 Visit Finland / 3,130nm (+20nm)
6 Derry-Londonderry / 3,142nm (+32nm)
7 New York / 3,144nm (+35nm)
8 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital / 3,161nm (+51nm)
9 De Lage Landen / 3,163nm (+53nm)
10 Gold Coast Australia / 3,232nm (+123nm) In Stealth Mode: position at 1800, 14 August
DTF* = Distance to Finish, DTL** = Distance to Leader. Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found here.
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