Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - Perfect trade wind conditions
by Heather Ewing on 13 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.
New York 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 first night at sea on race two has been spent settling back into race rhythm after a frenetic few days in Madeira, where the welcome was as warm as the sunshine. For the teams it is a return to the familiar sounds of the boat after the brass band farewells and nightlife on shore.
'Last night was a strange night in many ways on board New York,' writes crew member, Andrew Priest. 'The usual deck banter was restrained, with most crew seemingly lost in their own thoughts as Madeira retreated into the distance behind us as we headed downwind and began the first night of the likely three-week voyage to Rio.
'Being on a 68-foot racing yacht means shifts in emotion can sweep a crew over a few moments and we will be back to our normal chatter very soon, I am sure, as we track our way down via the Canary Islands to the Equator and then across the South Atlantic to the northern Brazilian coast before heading south to Rio.'
'It feels great to be off again! Madeira was an excellent little pit stop and very much required but I think that we were all keen to push on to Rio,' says Singapore’s skipper, Ben Bowley. 'Very many thanks to all the Marina staff, race office and maintenance staff for welcoming us and helping us to effect lots of little tweaks and repairs in such a short space of time.
'Race re-start was certainly a little fruity with winds from 20-35 knots of true wind to contend with. Before long people were bearing off straight to Rio and popping kites. We chose to hold onto ours until the wind settled a bit which was a good choice, allowing us to gybe out of a wind hole and get some good breeze.'
The wind shadow from the island affected a couple of teams who watched in dismay as their beautifully-filled spinnakers collapsed.
One of those was Derry-Londonderry, whose skipper, Mark Light, reports, 'We were second over the start line and second to hoist the spinnaker - unfortunately that’s where the trend ends. The wind died near the coast leaving spinnakers collapsed and skippers frustrated, so we dropped the kite and turned away to the south to find more wind. We are now running with full main and poled-out Yankee 2 headsail in superb conditions – some really good surfs saw us at speeds up to 17 knots!'
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital is also getting in on the surfing action and loving the way these 68-foot yachts handle in the downwind conditions they are designed for. 'The helming is loads of fun and even the skipper is getting a go on the wheel... long may the wind last!' comes the report this morning. 'The Edinburgh Inspiring Capital crew are happy to be racing again and had a great night sail under poled out headsails.'
Welcome to Yorkshire has also employed the poled-out headsail option overnight and it’s a tactic that’s served them well, while Qingdao have a little distance to make up on the rest of the pack.
'It was a great start for all the fleet yesterday,' says Ian Conchie, skipper of Qingdao. 'We were in the middle of the pack over the line and as the fleet bore away for the first mark we shook out our reef and went flying down the coast. At the mark we elected to go with a poled out head sail rather than the spinnaker to allow us to get away from the coast. This proved to be a good move as most of the fleet suffered in the wind shadows near the coast but we and De Lage Landen sailed clear.
Unfortunately we missed a wind shift and our early gains were lost.
'We’ve settled down into boat routines through the night, now we just need to get the boat speed up!'
With more than 3,500 miles to run to the finish line in Rio, the 13-mile spread between the teams at this morning’s 0600 position report means there is little to call between them and Qingdao can take comfort in the fact that it will not be the last time losses and gains will be made during this race. With the Canary Islands, the Cape Verdes and the Doldrums (or, more properly the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone or ICTZ) lying between the fleet and the finish line it is anybody’s race.
There are also extra points to be had on this stage – there is a Scoring Gate near the Cape Verde Islands. The first, second and third teams to pass through it will receive three, two and one bonus points respectively. The Scoring Gate is not compulsory; teams can decide to bypass it altogether if they think they have more chance of a better result in the race by taking a different route.
New for Clipper 11-12 is the introduction of the Ocean Sprint which is essentially a time trial and every team, no matter what their position in the fleet, has the chance to win it. For this race the Ocean Sprint will be between the latitudes of five and ten degrees South and each of the teams will be measured on the time it takes them to cover the distance between the two. The fastest will receive the bonus point.
In addition to the opportunity to win extra points the teams also have Stealth Mode at their disposal. Each team is allowed to go ‘undercover’ for one 24-hour period during the race in order to shield their tactics from the rest of the fleet. During this time their positions will still be reported to the Race Office for safety reasons but they will not be given to the other teams or appear on the Race Viewer.
So, there are many tactics to be played out over the next three weeks and it promises to be as interesting for those of us watching from shore as it will be for the teams on the water.
Visit Finland’s skipper, Olly Osborne says, 'All the boats have made good mileage overnight and each crew will now be looking at the best way to tackle the Canaries where there will be losses and gains to be made.'
His words are echoed by Juan Coetzer on Geraldton Western Australia, who says, 'We had a great start yesterday; first across the start line and around the mark. We had some fast downwind sailing during the evening and overnight with poled out headsail, surfing at up to 20 knots. Now we’re heading towards the Canaries with the other boats close by.'
The other Aussie team, Gold Coast Australia, is still having some issues with chafing halyards and it’s one they’re going to have to keep a careful eye on in this race if their winning start to their Clipper 11-12 campaign is to be maintained.
'Things were going superbly from the start until a number of chafe issues forced us to sail low and slow to depower the boat to repair chafed guys and inspect a halyard,' explains skipper, Richard Hewson.
'An hour later Gold Coast Australia was once again powering along when one of the crew members noticed some chafe occurring on our brand new port spinnaker halyard. We immediately reacted by getting Lisa Blair in a harness and prepared to go up the 89-foot mast. Just as Lisa was about to climb, BANG, the halyard blew and it was all hands on deck to recover the spinnaker that had gone from the top of the mast and fallen into the water. The recovery had to be done very fast or there was danger of the boat running over the spinnaker or it filling with water and basically becoming a massive prawn net! Now, Aussies love to have a few prawns on the barbecue, but this was no way to fish for them.
'The spinnaker was taken below and inspected thoroughly, then woolled in preparation for a new hoist. It is now hoisted on the new spectra starboard spinnaker halyard. We’re hoping that a change in halyard material will reduce the chafe and allow them to carry the spinnaker all the way to the Equator. This is all we can do because it is now the only halyard we have left until our arrival in Rio. Fingers crossed.
'We’ve sailed well through the night and have now re-taken the lead.'
De Lage Landen has moved up to third place after a slower start than most but, as is often said, these long ocean races are never won or lost on the start line.
'Starting behind the most of the fleet in ninth place meant we had clear air and the benefit of seeing what happened to the other yachts,' says skipper, Mat Booth. 'This proved very helpful as some of the fleet got caught inshore without wind. With more than 3,500nm to go, starts don't seem as important as performance on the race track.
'The strategy was simple and clear before we started and we kept to it which meant we moved up into third then first overnight. We’re now back into third place and we expect to fall behind as our long term strategy for this leg begins to take place. I expect to see a lot of movement in the rankings on this leg!
'The team are up for it and fired up. Routine has quickly been re-establish and life aboard is good.'
Positions at 0900 UTC, Saturday 13 August
Boat - DTF*
1 Gold Coast Australia - 3,541nm
2 Welcome to Yorkshire - 3,545nm (+4nm DTL**)
3 De Lage Landen - 3,546nm (+5nm)
4 Geraldton Western Australia - 3,547nm (+6nm)
5 Visit Finland - 3,547nm (+6nm)
6 New York - 3,549nm (+8nm)
7 Derry-Londonderry - 3,550nm (+8nm)
8 Singapore - 3,550nm (+9nm)
9 Geraldton Western Australia - 3,553nm (+11nm)
10 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital - 3,556nm (+15nm)
DTF* = Distance to Finish, DTL** = Distance to Leader. Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found here.
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