Please select your home edition
Edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - Tactics and splits

by Heather Ewing on 18 Apr 2012
De Lage Landen - The Clipper Race fleet left Jack London Square in Oakland on 14 April to start Race 10, to Panama - Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race Abner Kingman/onEdition
Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race fleet are on the fifth day of race ten from Oakland, California to Panama. Just 29 miles separate the distances to finish of the ten 68-foot yachts competing in the world’s longest yacht race. They are spread in a line approximately 140 miles long running from south west to north east.

De Lage Landen remains in the lead after the decision to pass to the east of the island of Guadalupe off the Mexican coast.

'It seems that we were the only boat to sail east of the island of Guadalupe but we emerged with our position intact,' reports skipper, Stuart Jackson. 'I decided to continue the shortest course from our inshore position towards the Scoring Gate and, despite concerns about light airs in the lee of the island, we managed to keep our momentum going with the lightweight spinnaker. However, only 22 miles separate the top eight boats in the fleet so I'm sure we will see lots of changing positions.'

Gold Coast Australia has slid down the leader board after the team underestimated the wind shadow in the lee of the island.

'The decision was made to take the western side after the wind picked up after sunset last night and the boat felt a bit too loaded up steering the angles required to pass the island to the east,' says Richard Hewson.

'At sunrise Guadalupe loomed in the sea mist and cloud and as the day warmed up we got a good look at the rugged, mountainous island as we sailed 15nm along its western coast. After we passed south of the island a tactical error was made when we thought we were out of the lee of the island. As a result the wind dropped from the 18 knots that the rest of the fleet was sailing in to ten knots. To add to the error the wind backed, leaving us no choice but to sail to the east.

'The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to sail out of the lee of the island, losing many miles to the other leading yachts. Finally at sunset the wind picked back up and veered to its predicted direction and we are sailing well, trying to make up lost ground.

'At the moment the fleet is very close and we can see five other yachts in our vicinity giving us good motivation to sail well throughout the night as we set ourselves up for the next light wind phase of the race.'

While Gold Coast Australia battles to get back into a podium position as the distances between the yachts get smaller, Derry-Londonderry’s crew have been enjoying the 'magical conditions' and working their way into second place.

'We had been flying our medium kite, ‘Jack’ (the ripper), all day before the wind finally started to decrease once we passed the Isla de Guadalupe. This happened just as the sun was setting and we performed a textbook spinnaker peel down to our lightweight kite. A spinnaker peel is probably the most advanced sailing evolution there is and it is great to see an evolution with such a high capacity for error being executed precisely and quickly. It has also given us the chance to carry out a few running repairs, patching a couple of small holes in ‘Jack’ and repairing a spinnaker guy.

'We have managed to force our way up into second place and feel that we are in a great position to push and challenge for top spot. But with the wind decreasing as we push ever south we may need a little bit of luck from the wind gods themselves.'

The wind is likely to ease off today and bring light conditions to the fleet for the next 36 to 48 hours before filling in again. The trick will be to find the corridors of breeze to maintain momentum towards the finish line and each of the teams’ tacticians believe they know where best to find it – from De Lage Landen in the east to Edinburgh Inspiring Capital furthest to the west, where they may well find the breeze holds up for longer.


Rupert Dean, the skipper of Welcome to Yorkshire, comments on the varying tactics of the other yachts which, he says, are split into three groups.

'Today it is the west that has done the best, followed by De Lage Landen in the east, in terms of miles sailed towards the finish. This is because there appears to be a little more of a pressure gradient here compared to the centre. Much of this is due to the proximity of Guadalupe and which, although small, is mountainous and has its own wind shadow to the south south east. This particularly affected Gold Coast Australia which has been racing in sight of us. This morning she 'hardened up' on port gybe, sailing into this windless zone, before gybing back onto starboard to fall behind us this afternoon. Since then, we've both been heading south east on port, heading for the Scoring Gate with what little wind we have.

'Meanwhile on deck, we've been sailing under clear sunny and starry skies. Temperatures continue to rise and this evening we saw the most amazing meteor burst through the atmosphere. It doesn't matter how many years one spends at sea, for Mother Nature still has the capacity to surprise.'

Singapore continues to pursue a central course among the fleet and is neck and neck with New York.

'Another excellent day on the water punctuated by several kite evolutions to keep everyone just busy enough,' reports Ben Bowley. 'Although we have been sailing now for only a few days it feels like weeks and everyone has settled nicely into the routine of life aboard. We have positioned ourselves well for our run into the Scoring Gate and now hope that we can keep in the slightly stronger band of wind out west long enough to pull some ground in on our rivals. A special well done today to our nipper, James Thomas, for spending over an hour up the rig today with an angry kite nipping at his heels to sort out our top spreader end cap protection. Fingers crossed the wind holds for long enough for us to make it to the gate before dying out completely!'

That is the fervent hope of Gareth Glover and his team. The skipper of the American entry says, 'The north westerly winds keep us heading south towards the Scoring Gate and, as we sailed past Guadalupe, Singapore passed half a mile behind us on starboard gybe. We had a good chat on the VHF and went on our way. Just as we got to the south of the island Visit Finland came into view as they gybed over in front of us. There is still over 300nm to go until we get to the Scoring Gate and we must try to keep New York moving in the light airs to come in the next few days.

'This morning we wrapped the medium weight kite around the forestay as we were trying to sail too deep downwind. One of the crew had to go to the end of the pole to it sort out and a new kite was back up in less than 20 minutes.'

Yesterday Edinburgh Inspiring Capital’s crew had a few issues as they tried to be a little too hasty in their desire to beat the other teams. Today it is the turn of Qingdao, who decided to stay offshore to avoid any wind shadows around Guadalupe. How many of us have been in the situation where a minor error leads to a bigger mistake and another one and before you know it, the only way out is to stop and start all over again?

Ian Conchie describes what happened when a spinnaker evolution started badly and just got worse.

'All was going well until at sunset the wind picked up a little bit. To look after our medium weight kite I decided to change to the heavy, even though I thought the wind would only last a short while. The first drop went fine but as we hoisted the heavyweight kite we realised it had been packed wrongly so we had to drop it quickly. During the drop it went into the sea so we had to let the halyard go and stop the boat to recover it, but we managed to do this quickly so the sail wasn't damaged. We did manage to bend a stanchion post though. (There goes our perfect maintenance budget I fear.)

'We quickly repacked it and hoisted it again, only to get the halyards tangled, but we were able to fly it while we sorted out the boat and, two hours after we started it all, we smoothly changed back to the medium weight! All in all hard work but hopefully we didn't lose much time to the other boats.'

Visit Finland’s crew have been dealing with spinnaker issues of their own and the old Clipper Training mantra ‘Chafe is the enemy’ is coming back to haunt them.

Olly Osborne explains, 'Things have not been altogether ideal for us during the last 24 hours having suffered from a series of problems with our spinnaker gear which forced us to drop our spinnaker for some time whilst we made repairs to sails and running rigging. The continual downwind sailing puts a lot of strain on the ropes and poles and it is very surprising how quickly they can chafe through.'


Meanwhile Geraldton Western Australia’s sail repairer has been pressed into action after they spotted a rip in their lightweight spinnaker.

'A small tear was noticed in the light weight kite, so a change to the medium was required – followed-on by a gybe. Taking the long way around the Isla de Guadalupe has been our strategy today as we thought the wind may have been lighter around the island,' says Juan Coetzer.

'Everyone on board is doing really well, contributing to our boat’s speed and success in some way.'

Stuart Jackson concludes, 'It has been a pretty perfect day on board with beautiful sunshine by day and an awesome light show by night. We are still being accompanied by scores of dolphins, we were treated to fresh tuna for dinner, and after more than 30,000 miles of racing we discovered one of our crew could bake excellent Belgian chocolate cake.'

The Clipper Race crews never fail to surprise with their hidden talents. People from all walks of life and more than 40 countries have signed up to the challenge of a lifetime, pushing their mental and physical boundaries further than they ever thought possible.

If you think you have what it takes to become a Clipper Race crew member, berths are available now for Clipper 13-14, the ninth edition of the event which will see the introduction of a brand new 12-strong fleet of 70-foot yachts. For more information click here.

Positions at 0900 UTC, Wednesday 18 April 2012
Boat - DTF*
1 De Lage Landen - 2,453nm
2 Derry-Londonderry - 2,457nm (+4nm DTL**)
3 Welcome to Yorkshire - 2,460nm (+7nm)
4 Gold Coast Australia - 2,461nm (+8nm)
5 Singapore - 2,469nm (+16nm)
6 New York - 2,469nm (+16nm)
7 Qingdao - 2,472nm (+19nm)Position at 0800 18 April
8 Visit Finland - 2,472nm (+19nm)
9 Geraldton Western Australia - 2,475nm (+22nm)
10 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital - 2,483nm (+30nm)

*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

North Technology - Southern SparsInSunSport - NZKilwell - 1

Related Articles

America's Cup - Arbitration Panel Hearing over Kiwi Qualifier for July
ACEA CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. In a yet to be published interview in Sail-World, America’s Cup Events Authority CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. This is the first official indication that the three person Arbitration Panel had even been formed, however Sail-World’s sources indicated that it had been empanelled since last January, possibly earlier.
Posted on 27 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 2
Yachting NZ's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is unprecedented Yachting New Zealand's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is without precedent. Subject to Appeal, the Kiwis have signaled that they will reject 30% of the positions gained in the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander in 2014.
Posted on 22 May
Gladwell's Line - World Sailing changes tack after IOC windshift
Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick. Every blow well earned over issues such as the pollution at Rio, the Israeli exclusion abomination plus a few more. But now World Sailing is getting it right.
Posted on 21 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 1
Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving its goals Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving goals set in the Olympic Commission report of 2010. Around 64 countries are expected to be represented in Rio de Janeiro in August. That is a slight increase on Qingdao and Weymouth, but more importantly a full regional qualification system is now in place
Posted on 19 May
Taming the beast-a conversation with Stuart Meurer of Parker Hannifin
While AC72 cats were fast, they difficult to control, so Oracle partnered with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way. If you watched videos of the AC72s racing in the 34th America’s Cup (2013), you’re familiar with the mind-boggling speeds that are possible when wingsail-powered catamarans switch from displacement sailing to foiling mode. While foiling is fast, there’s no disguising the platform’s inherent instability. Now, Oracle Team USA has teamed up with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way.
Posted on 18 May
From foiling Moths to Olympic starting lines-a Q&A with Bora Gulari
Bora Gulari’s is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class, along with teammate Louisa Chafee. Bora Gulari (USA) has made a strong name for himself within high-performance sailing circles, with wins at the 2009 and 2013 Moth Worlds. In between, he broke the 30-knort barrier and was the 2009 US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. His latest challenge is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class as skipper, along with his teammate Louisa Chafee.
Posted on 12 May
Concern for Zika at Rio Olympics is now deadly serious
Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, or the Rio Olympics. Many others have, and they were apt, but things have changed. So here now we have a situation where one man, Associate Professor Amir Attaran, who does have a more than decent string of letters after his name, is bringing nearly as many facts to bear as references at the article's end
Posted on 12 May
Zhik - The brand born of a notion, not its history
here is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline is officially marketed as Made For Water There is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline has been officially marketed as Made For Water, and this is precisely what the company has done for the last eight years before the succinct and apt strapline came from out of R&D and into mainstream visibility.
Posted on 8 May
Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May
Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted on 29 Apr