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Clipper Round the World Yacht Race heats up

by Heather Ewing on 27 Apr 2012
Geraldton Western Australia - 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 is on the fourteenth day of race ten from Oakland, California to Panama. In the last 24 hours half of the fleet have completed the Ocean Sprint.

Since Welcome to Yorkshire set the time to beat yesterday, Geraldton Western Australia, Gold Coast Australia, De Lage Landen and Visit Finland have crossed the line respectively. Currently Geraldton Western Australia has the advantage to take the bonus point on offer, completing the sprint in 32 hours and 42 minutes, beating De Lage Landens time by just 30 minutes and 50 seconds.

Gold Coast Australia is currently in the lead in their three way dog fight with De Lage Landen and Visit Finland, overtaking the Dutch entry by a whisker of six miles, narrowing the distance between the three teams by 23 miles.

In the 0600 report to the Race Office skipper, Richard Hewson, reports, 'Gold Coast Australia worked very hard to make up ground on the leading yachts last night in very light and unpredictable winds. At first light we had the leading yacht De Lage Landen in our sights.

'Light winds tending north during the morning allowed us to sail tighter angles and make ground to the north east and overtake De Lage Landen. Whilst the distance between the start and end of the sprint was officially only 90 miles, Gold Coast Australia travelled just short of 300 miles as most of the time we were trying to make ground to the northern side of the course by sailing east. Our time for the Ocean Sprint is unlikely to turn any heads as we had earlier decided to forgo the possibility of one point for the sprint in exchange for a better overall result.

'Throughout the day the wind began to fill in and we sailed downwind to make the most of the fresh breeze, placing a loose cover on De Lage Landen and experiencing some fantastic sailing conditions as we sailed down the Mexican coast, with the breeze cooling the boat nicely.'

De Lage Landen is currently reporting to the Race Office twice daily due to incurring several IT problems over the past few days, which means they don’t have any functional laptops to send blogs and videos back. This is set to be resolved in Panama.

Advising the Race Office by telephone this morning, skipper Stuart Jackson says, 'It’s getting extremely hot, but we intend on keeping our concentration and regaining the miles lost to Gold Coast Australia. It will be difficult as we both seem to be making the same speed but there is still time to gain the top spot.'

Describing the close knit racing between the three teams, Visit Finland skipper, Olly Osborne, says, 'We had a good run today and a chance to chase down the two boats ahead. Sailing in the same airs as them will make the miles hard to regain, but we are feeling positive, and there are still a number of tactical options that could make the difference. The afternoon breeze is becoming more of a regular feature now, and this afternoon treated us to some great spinnaker sailing. At night however it is often tricky with the breeze being frustratingly variable and inconsistent.

'The heat is now a big factor and it is a conscious effort to stay hydrated and to avoid sunburn. This will become more and more of a challenge as we head south, and trying to maintain focus on light airs spinnaker trim under the beating sun is not easy. But the racing is still as exciting as ever and we will be hot on the heels of the teams ahead during the coming days.'

Meanwhile, in the middle of the fleet Geraldton Western Australia have set a new time to beat in the Ocean Sprint. Determined to maintain this lead and move further up the leader board, skipper Juan Coetzer, reports, 'This morning we finished our Ocean Sprint and now we have sailed through our first mandatory gate.

'Today we have had another day of gybing and sailing the best angles for the next gate. We peeled from the medium kite to the light weight as it was not holding its shape that well, and a butterfly was over taking us, and this was unacceptable.

'Dehydration and the sure heat is a big issue, as the crew are consume large amounts of liquids. On deck, the quest for shade is an on-going battle as crew are rotated every 30 minutes.Below decks, the fans are continuously running in the ‘Ghetto’ as crew try and get some sleep. Sun set is welcomed by crew as the temperature drops to something bearable.'


With wind speeds increasing for the more southerly positioned yachts, there is still frustration over lack of wind for the more inshore part of the fleet. Singapore’s skipper Ben Bowley, reports, 'Today has been one of quiet reflection aboard the ‘Big Red Bus’.

'The heat has been truly stifling and this has done nothing ease our frustration at being in a weaker band of wind than our competitors over that last 24 hours.

'Once again, last night we were forced to sail fairly high on the wind to keep the boat moving and although we now have a steady breeze to move us further down the track; we have waited a long time to get it. This has allowed the boats ahead to pull away from us opening up a lead that will be tricky to assault given the fact that the race will inevitably be called short in the coming few days.

'The crew are in good spirits however and laughter and banter still abounds on deck. We are still striving hard to make up the lost ground as we know all too well that kite wraps can happen at any time and there is always the chance to leap-frog one of the back markers before the race is called!'

The second phase of this race is heating up in more than one way, and as the teams vie for supremacy grappling with the varying conditions to eke out every last knot they can, the temperatures are starting to soar with sees the teams taking on a second challenge competing with the heat.

'Today has been the hottest day of the race so far, here on Welcome to Yorkshire.' Reports skipper, Rupert Dean.

'Our electronic barometer, which also measures temperature, recorded 37.4 degrees Celsius at 1415 hours local time this afternoon. Needless to say conditions feel rather uncomfortable during daylight hours, with all of us looking forward to cooler more pleasant temperatures at night.

'To race competitively in an environment like this requires considerable self-discipline. Every fine adjustment to the helm and trim has major ramifications on boat speed, making total concentration essential. To facilitate this, our athletes are ensuring they wear plenty of sunblock, covering up and drinking plenty of water. Wherever possible, the active watch on deck are racing the boat from areas shaded by sails from the sun.'

'So, as we dream of air-conditioned rooms, ice creams and cold beers, we soldier on in this intense heat, battling to the finish wherever that turns out to be.'

Derry-Londonderry skipper Mark Light, agrees with the English entry, announcing, ' 'The combination of perfectly clear skies, long days of sunshine and very little wind is proving to be very frustrating! When the wind fills in, the whole situation changes for the better and attitudes on board fully reflect this. To be gliding along under lightweight spinnaker at around eight knots SOG (Speed Over Ground) on a flat azure blue sea is lovely, and to be doing this in the right direction is fantastic!

'Something else that has changed on this race has been the quantity of food being consumed per day. We are not eating anywhere near as much as we first thought and there is much more call for our fresh food stuffs. Canned drinks have also become a very high source bargaining amongst some crew and with a ration of six apples and four oranges there is a large amount of inter crew trading going on. I have five apples and four oranges still remaining so im just beginning to be seen in a position of power due to the fact that my fruit trade relations are very good at the moment!'

On board Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, skipper Flavio Zamboni reports that despite seeing their position drop ninth in the crippling conditions, the team is in good spirits.

'After yesterday's good few hours sailing, today has seen a much slower progress trying to make the most of the light airs we've had.

'The weather is glorious although, by now, it has become seriously hot. Coping with dehydration and the heat, above and below deck, has become such an important factor that it will greatly affect the team’s performance overall and will reflect in the final results.

'Morale on board is high. Everybody is enjoying the sailing, is working together really well and, since racing is so tight and conditions variable, we still feel we can improve our position in the standings. It's a really long race and keeping up the pace at all times is a big challenge.'


Also hoping to improve their position in the standings is Qingdao, and the Chinese entry has forfeited the opportunity of the Ocean Sprint bonus point in a bid to glean back miles lost.

Skipper Ian Conchie, explains, 'As we continue heading down the coast towards the finish we are trying to keep our speed as high as possible. The next question will be where will the wind fill in from next and will the boats to the south get the advantage or not? We decided to focus on race strategy rather than going for the sprint as have a chance we would have needed to head much more south which could have cost us in the overall race.

'In the meantime there is a lot so debate as to how far will the wind last will we make the finish in time and when will we arrive in Panama?

'Today has also been the hottest so far with the crew trying to hide from the sun and all patches of shade on deck being at a premium! Despite this we have serviced some winches and repaired a spinnaker all the normal jobs to keep the boat in the best condition we can.'

The Race Committee is keeping an eye on the current progress of the fleet in the light airs in order to ensure it traverses through the Panama Canal in advance of the canal’s planned maintenance.

Race 10 has provision for four additional finish lines to accommodate the potential need to shorten the course and reach the scheduled canal transit time.

Positions at 0900 UTC, Friday 27 April 2012
Boat - DTF*
1 Gold Coast Australia - 1205nm
2 De Lage Landen - 1211nm (+6nm DTL**)
3 Visit Finland - 1228nm (+23nm)
4 Welcome to Yorkshire - 1277nm (+72nm)
5 Geraldton Western Australia - 1289nm (+84nm)
6 Qingdao - 1308nm (+104nm)
7 New York - 1313nm (+108nm)
8 Derry-Londonderry - 1315nm (+110nm)
9 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital - 1325nm (+120nm)
10 Singapore - 1348nm (+143nm)

*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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