Clipper Round the World Yacht Race – New York storms into second place
by Heather Ewing on 10 Oct 2011
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2011-12 fourth race from Cape Town, Africa to Geraldton, Western Australia is currently underway.
New York races away from Cape Town, South Africa, at the start of Race 4 - Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race Bruce Sutherland/onEdition
Despite the stronger winds remaining elusive as the teams reach the so-called Roaring Forties, New York has stormed up the leader board into second place.
The Roaring Forties is the area defined by its strong westerly winds in the Southern Hemisphere generally between the latitudes of 40 to 49 degrees south. Prior to the introduction of steam ships on the international trade routes, the traditional Clipper ships used to take advantage of these powerful winds as they transported goods between Europe, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand.
On New York, round the world crew member Mohan Krishnan, said his team had faced the dilemma of whether or not to tack yesterday.
'To tack won and we were off to the south turning south east with the ocean currents pushing us a few knots further to the Forties,' Mohan said.
'After an afternoon of buzzing along with our speed over the ground topping 13 knots and a delicious dinner of Thai green chicken curry and rice, it was time for the next watch. As the 1800 UTC positions came in, the expectations of improving our position started rising like the halfway moon on the horizon. The rest, as they say is history, at least for now,' he added.
Mohan said the New York team is heading even further south in the search of even stronger winds.
De Lage Landen is keen to regain second place and with just six miles between the Dutch boat and the US boat, skipper Stuart Jackson is taking advantage of more favourable winds.
'Finally a wind from the north east is allowing us to make a more desirable course towards the scoring gate and Geraldton. Over the next 24 hours the wind is due to fill in and become more north westerly bringing an opportunity to get the spinnaker out again,' he said.
Although they have conceding second place overnight, the De Lage Landen crew remains in high spirits. 'Being Sunday it is party time on deck at lunchtime with some freshly baked cake and some entertainment planned with an Aussie theme, a bit premature, but why not start getting in the spirit!' Stuart said.
Despite entering the area known for strong winds, Gold Coast Australia has experienced exactly the opposite, according to skipper, Richard Hewson.
'In the past few hours Gold Coast Australia passed 40 degrees south and entered the Southern Ocean at about the same time the wind dropped 10 knots,' he said.
'Over the last 24 hours we have seen extremely shifty conditions with wind direction varying 60 degrees and wind strength varying from 10 to 20 knots. These conditions have made sailing very challenging, and the crew is constantly re-trimming and adjusting course to maintain our boat speed so we can stay ahead of the pack,' Richard said.
He added that he was being forced to stay north due to the lingering high pressure system.
'If we were to head south to cover our opposition we would simply fall into a big wind hole and stop. Our only option is to head east and hope that we can maintain our lead in the process,' he said.
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, one of the three boats to log a triple-digit 12-hour run, has been making good progress in a south easterly direction in search of the elusive westerlies.
'At one point we were topping 14 knots on the massive ocean rollers as we barrelled sideways down the side of them. This tends to make the boat lean a little, so we need to hang on tight,' skipper, Gordon Reid, said.
Gordon said that his team has been carrying the maximum amount of upwind sail allowed under the race rules, sailing hard to make up ground on the rest of the fleet.
'Today we continue in a slightly more southerly course riding along the southern edge of the high to escape the final grasp of the less northerly winds and into the beautiful westerly winds,' he added.
Qingdao’s arrival at the famed Roaring Forties also brought a disappointing lack of wind forcing the team to drop their staysail.
'The conditions have been changeable all day with frustratingly light winds. This allowed New York to overtake us and we are now working hard to trying and regain ground and catch them up,' skipper, Ian Conchie, reports.
'The weather so far has not been following the traditional game plan or the weather forecasts. At one point we were sailing in a southerly breeze when the forecast said we should have had a northerly and memories of Race 2 to Rio when we lost four places came flooding back,' Ian said.
'We now await the next weather system to produce the long-awaited westerly winds to allow us to push hard east towards Australia,' he added.
On Geraldton Western Australia, Juan Coetzer and his crew have been carrying out some running maintenance as they try to chase down the front runners.
'We even had Pete flying around on a halyard, replacing a batten in the main sail,' Juan said, adding that round the world crew member Russell Sandbach celebrated his birthday by sailing into the Roaring Forties.
'All is well on board the good ship Geraldton Western Australia. It’s just a little frustrating watching the fleet catching up as we glide through the water slowly,' Juan said.
Welcome to Yorkshire’s crew has enjoyed an eventful 24 hours as they entered the Southern Ocean at the latitude of 40 degrees south.
'They've been treated to sightings of dolphins, an albatross, a humpback whale and a pod of pilot whales, the latter getting close enough for us to have to take avoiding action. It's rare that one gets to see such wildlife in such a short space of time,' skipper, Rupert Dean, said.
'Race wise, it's been a good 24 hours for Welcome to Yorkshire. Thanks to a strong band of current and light, but stable winds, we've made decent gains on the rest of the fleet with the exception of New York, who've had a truly exceptional period,' Rupert said.
'Hopefully we will experience the same thing ourselves, as our projected track takes us straight through their position 12 hours ago but only time will tell,' he said.
Rupert said he expects there to be a split in the southern group as some elect to bear off south to fly spinnakers, whilst others continue more easterly, close reaching under white sails.
'In the meantime, it is obvious that considerable unpredictable variation in wind and current strength prevails across this stretch of ocean, that will make or break the fortunes of several boats,' he added.
Visit Finland is also experiencing variable conditions which continue to challenge the crew with regular sail changes and constant trim as they cross the fortieth parallel into the Southern Ocean.
'We’re trying to squeeze every ounce of speed out of the lighter airs,' skipper, Olly Osborne, reports.
'With Derry-Londonderyy being so close both boats will have the same wind, and in a matched fleet like this it all boils down to trim,' Olly said.
On Derry-Londonderry just 16 miles behind Visit Finland, Mark Light and his crew have been enjoying some very pleasant sailing conditions with flat seas, a clear sky and around 15 knots of steady breeze.
'I have a feeling things may change before very long. We have just crossed into the Roaring Forties and this area is regarded by many as the gateway to the Southern Ocean, where depressions travel around the bottom half of the world unimpeded by land masses therefore gathering momentum, speed and strength,' he said.
'As we dive further south the temperatures will drop considerably and the conditions on deck will become more extreme. This is a pretty desolate part of the world and the amount of traffic will reduce significantly,' Mark added.
'The upshot of this all for us is large waves, severe winds and some very fast and exciting downwind sailing so concentration and alertness will be required by all crews as we experience some pretty extreme sailing,' Mark said.
On Singapore, Ben Bowley and his crew have been tested by the Agulhas Current, the second fastest flowing in the world after the Gulf Stream.
'The Agulhas Current itself has created some of the strangest seas I have ever sailed in. The conditions were very frustrating at times because it was almost impossible to set the boat up correctly for the sea state and wind together,' Ben said.
'In the end we found a combination that worked adequately well, however the helm still felt like we were driving the yacht through treacle, with very little feedback to steer with,' he said.
However, the stunning environment is making up for the demands posed by the conditions. 'It was quite an experience and the seascape was breathtaking, like a fluid, blue, lunar landscape, with potholes and towering peaks all flowing and constantly changing,' Ben said.
The boats are expected to arrive in Geraldton, Western Australia between 29 and 31 October.
Positions at 0900 UTC, Sunday 9 October
Boat - DTF*
1 Gold Coast Australia - 4,194nm
2 New York - 4,241nm (+47nm DTL**)
3 De Lage Landen - 4,247nm (+53nm)
4 Qingdao - 4,265nm (+71nm)
5 Geraldton Western Austral - 4,280nm (+86nm)
6 Welcome to Yorkshire - 4,310nm (+116nm)
7 Visit Finland - 4,354nm (+160nm)
8 Derry-Londonderry - 4,370nm (+176nm)
9 Singapore - 4,418nm (+224nm)
10 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital - 4,441nm (+247nm)
*DTF = Distance to Finish. **DTL = Distance to Leader. Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found here.
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