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Clipper Round the World Race - Teams sprint towards Scoring Gate

by Heather Ewing on 11 Nov 2011
Gold Coast Australia at the start of Race 5 in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race Karl Monaghan/onEdition
Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race fleet are on the fifth day of the race from Geraldton, Western Australia to Tauranga, New Zealand.

Gold Coast Australia has won the race to be the first boat through the Scoring Gate to pick up an extra three points. The first, second and third boats to cross the line between 40 degrees south 127 east and 43 degrees south 127 east will be awarded three, two and one points respectively.

The close racing throughout the fleet has continued unabated as the rest of the teams sprint towards the Scoring Gate for race five in the hope of claiming the remaining extra points on offer.

Behind Gold Coast Australia just 30 miles separates six teams, all keen to add extra points to their respective tallies.

A close match race along the Great Circle Route is underway between Welcome to Yorkshire and Singapore, and both teams report a busy 24 hours as they tried to hold their spinnakers in the downwind conditions.

Ben Bowley on Singapore reports that the last six hours have been some of 'the most pleasurable' in his whole sailing career.

'As I write, we have about 20 to 22 knots of true wind from astern, our medium kite flying and are, for the moment at least, edging ahead of Welcome to Yorkshire, who is just hull up on the crystal clear bright horizon,' he said.

'We have some excellent music playing, crew are drying their sodden gear and though very tired, none of us would be anywhere else in the world right now,' he added.

Despite one of their heavily repaired spinnakers taking an unscheduled dip in the ocean when a guy parted due to chafing, the team managed to recover her with very little damage.

'I was amazed and impressed that we managed to get Sticky Vicky [the spinnaker] out from her morning bath and back aboard with almost no damage. I have a feeling that the amount of extra material on the sail [used during repairs] has turned her from a 2.2oz to a 2.5oz, just that bit of a tougher bird,' Ben said.

Welcome to Yorkshire held off flying their heavyweight spinnaker overnight due to 'large sloppy seas' that can lead to wraps and sail damage.

'Instead we sailed conservatively through several squalls with the main and poled-out Yankee 2 hoisting our heavyweight spinnaker at first light,' skipper, Rupert Dean, said.

'For the past 18 hours, Welcome to Yorkshire has been having its own battle with Singapore, with both boats in sight of each other as we sail under spinnaker along the Great Circle line,' he added.

The two boats have been matching each other gybe for gybe as they endeavour to pick the most direct route in the shifting winds. 'We've now raced nearly a thousand miles since leaving Geraldton and it's amazing to see how close the boats still are after all this time,' Rupert said.


Due to problems with Singapore’s tracker [the device that transmits the team’s location, course and speed], Ben and his team are currently sending through their coordinates to the Race Office manually four times a day. As a result, Singapore’s position data displayed on the race viewer can be three hours older than the rest of the fleet as they are not polling automatically every three hours. Race followers are advised to check the time stamp on the race viewer to clarify when the latest position data refers to.

Rupert and his team have invited the rest of the fleet to join them in commemorating Remembrance Day tomorrow. The annual memorial day is observed on 11 November to recall the official end of World War I on that date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended ‘at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month’ of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.

'Tomorrow on Remembrance Day we will remember all those who fought for our freedom during the two World Wars and in conflicts ever since. It is a time of reflection and a reminder to note how lucky we are to be out here racing like this,' Rupert said.

'As the English boat, we on Welcome to Yorkshire will be paying our respects by reciting a few words from the Royal British Legion followed by a two minute silence during our watch change at midday tomorrow (UTC +8). We invite the rest of the teams to join us in their own appropriate way,' he added.

As Remembrance Day dawns the teams will be bracing themselves for some ferocious weather, as Simon Rowell, meteorologist and winning skipper from Clipper 2002, warned that a couple of strong lows are looming.

'Firstly the low just passing to the south of the fleet will bring a gusty front with it with sustained winds of 30 to 35 knots at surface and a little higher up they've got 40 to 45 knots, so the skippers will need to look out for those ones,' Simon said.

And there’s more to come, according to Simon. 'A few days down the line the developing low that will get to Tasmania roughly at the same time as the fleet will be strong too,' he added.

For now conditions make for some great sailing and Geraldton Western Australia’s skipper, Juan Coetzer, reports that his team has been enjoying a 'beautiful day'.

After recent problems with their generator that have now been resolved, the team has power again to run their watermaker more often and also to enjoy some creature comforts. 'The sun is shining and the boat is sailing along to the beat of music again. It’s is so amazing how we can take electricity for granted,' he added.


Fortunes have changed overnight on New York. Not only has the team fixed their watermaker, but they have also moved up into third place just three miles behind Visit Finland in second.

After discussions with his 'nav team', skipper Gareth Glover has opted not to go for any Scoring Gate points in order to focus on their longer term race strategy.

'After looking hard at our plan we worked out that we may only be looking at one point and this will take us north and this might jeopardise our long term goals for this race,' he explained.

Gareth said he had decided to head south to find more wind in the hope of picking up more speed.

'The sea state has now flattened off and the crew are finding it much easier to helm and with the wind behind us now we have been running with full main and pole out head sails,' he said.

As always in ocean racing, one team’s gain has been at the expense of another and in this case New York has benefited from Derry-Londonderry’s slide down the leader board from third to fifth.

Skipper Mark Light reports that the Derry-Londonderry team sailed through the night under a poled-out Yankee 2 making good speed towards the Scoring Gate.

Despite preparing the spinnaker for a hoist on various occasions this morning, squally clouds prompted to abandon their plans.

'In the end we put it up anyway and have been making very good progress ever since but all in all it was fairly typical four-hour early morning watch for the LegenDerry crew' Mark said.

On Gold Coast Australia, skipper Richard Hewson reported that varying winds and a confused sea made for 'very challenging sailing indeed' as they raced towards the Scoring Gate.

'When we experienced a wind shift of 40 degrees yesterday evening, the decision was made to gybe to the east rather than sailing south east,' he said.

'This gained us extra miles to the east and towards the Scoring Gate but closed the gap between Visit Finland and Derry-Londonderry, and at one point we thought we could see their masthead lights as they passed astern,' he added.

'Whilst the day started with squally conditions and variable winds, this afternoon the sun is out and it is brilliant trade wind type sailing allowing us to do some maintenance and have some fun in the sun,' Richard added.

On De Lage Landen, Stuart Jackson and his team have realised what a difference a day can make.

'We are now sailing in great conditions with the wind behind us and enjoying a relatively flat dry boat,' he said.

However, Stuart is all too aware that the pleasant conditions are unlikely to last given the current forecast but he believes his crew is now prepared for the feisty conditions that lie ahead.

'As we have already had one good blow come through the crew knows what to expect so any early race nerves have well and truly gone and everyone is looking forward to some big surfing competitions,' he said.

What has been a fast start to the leg, with great mileage covered by the fleet, looks set to continue with the approaching low, which will hopefully see us all make great progress,' he added.


Edinburgh Inspiring Capital and Qingdao continue to jostle for position and the duelling pair was neck to neck at the last position report logging the same distance to the finish.

'We are now racing in company with Captain [Ian] Conchie and his Qingdao crew, who are running a parallel course around one mile off our port beam,' Edinburgh Inspiring Capital’s skipper, Gordon Reid, said.

Gordon also speaks of their 'luck of the Scottish' as overnight the team experienced 'a steam train of a wave' causing them to crash gybe.

'Everything was thrown about below decks, including me, and we hove too, then we started sailing backwards with the main sail and boom being held precariously by our double preventer, luckily I was able to get on deck to take control of the situation and we eventually got the boat back on course,' Gordon said.

This morning the team has experienced flatter conditions allowing them to turn their attention to routine maintenance, a welcome change for the new crew who have been thrown in at the deep end with challenging conditions at the start of this 3,800-mile race into the Southern Ocean.

As the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital team gains distance on the leaders and closes in on the Scoring Gate, Gordon Reid and his team are excited about what the Southern Ocean has in store.

'It is fantastic to be back in the Southern Ocean, for now we are full of positives and enjoying the magical ride, but we know the Southern Ocean has more in store for us and we wait with a sense of anticipation, excitement and a little apprehension,' he added.

Visit Finland continues to hold onto second place and skipper, Olly Osborne reports that his team is making good use of its spinnakers despite the wind angle not being particularly favourable forcing them to sail extra miles.

'With the competition still so close for the Scoring Gate we will have to make the best use of the lighter airs,' he said.

'Now that the sun's shining and the wind is moderating significantly it seems strange that we are about to cross the fortieth parallel once again,' Olly added.

With the sea state still very sloppy in the wake of the receding depression and light airs, it is proving difficult to maintain a reliable course, according to Olly.

Despite some gear failure, the team has been celebrating the birthday of leg four crew member, Marie-Clare Chapman.

'The mothers made a great cake in true Visit Finland style, so sitting in the sun and munching cake makes you realise that things aren't so bad after all!' he added.

The fleet is expected to arrive in Tauranga, New Zealand between 25 and 29 November.

Positions at 0900 UTC, Thursday 10 November
Boat - DTF*
1 Gold Coast Australia - 2754nm
2 Visit Finland - 2782nm (+28nm DTL**)
3 New York - 2785nm (+31nm)
4 Welcome to Yorkshire - 2800nm (+46nm)
5 Derry-Londonderry - 2806nm (+52nm)
6 Qingdao - 2812nm (+58nm)
7 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital - 2812nm (+58nm)
8 De Lage Landen - 2817nm (+63nm)
9 Singapore - 2833nm (+79nm position at 0600)
10 Geraldton Western Australia - 2861nm (+107nm position at 0800)

DTF* = Distance to Finish, DTL** = Distance to Leader Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found online.

www.clipperroundtheworld.com" target="_blank">Clipper Round the World Yacht Race website

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