In the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, after an exciting start yesterday off the South Coast of England, the competition is now fully underway.
With PSP Logistics, Team Garmin and OneDLL taking an early lead, it’s been all change overnight with the fleet racing tightly together with hardly anything separating current leaders Old Pulteney and second place Mission Performance.
Eric Holden, skipper of Henri Lloyd summed up the start of Race 1 to Brest perfectly: 'It has been a day of snakes and ladders. We had a conservative start, hoisting the A3 Spinnaker rather than the A2 Spinnaker that most other boats chose to put up.
'As night fell the leading boat went inshore to escape the adverse tide but found themselves becalmed and we tacked offshore just in time to slip by with Derry ~Londonderry~Doire. There are sure to be other wind holes up ahead and plenty of snakes as well as ladders to watch out for before we arrive in Brest.'
You can keep a close eye on the fleets’ position during the Clipper Race by checking the Race Viewer here
Olly Cotterell - OneDLL: The winds have been fickle and boats have been passing very close to each other during the night. It is amazing how close this race is. As I sit here typing this up we have the A1 Spinnaker up and are being chased down by a number of vessels. There has been a great variety of wind on this trip with the direction and strength changing regularly, testing the crew's ability to quickly read the situation and make the appropriate changes. The crew had to work really hard as we rounded Dungeness. The wind got up quickly making it tricky to get the Yankee 1 down, still with determination and graft we got it done. In typical nautical fashion the wind soon died down and the Yankee 1 was back up! Our systems are getting tested and the crew is getting used to the set up on our new home all in all I am very happy right now both with progress and the boat. Have a nice day... 1, 2, OneDLL!
Eric Holden - Henri Lloyd: It has been a day of snakes and ladders. We had a conservative start, hoisting the A3 Spinnaker rather than the A2 Spinnaker that most other boats chose to put up. We managed to stay in touch with the fleet all be it a bit off the pace, rounding Margate in seventh place, our patience then paid off as we were able to hold the A3 Spinnaker down to Ramsgate while others had to drop their Spinnakers. This catapulted us up to first place before the fleet was becalmed and reshuffled off Ramsgate. We got out of the wind hole in seventh place again but by Dungeness had pulled back into the top three. As night fell the leading boat went inshore to escape the adverse tide but found themselves becalmed and we tacked offshore just in time to slip by with Derry ~Londonderry~Doire. The two of us extended a lead of almost 20 miles on the rest of the fleet overnight. There are sure to be other wind holes up ahead and plenty of snakes as well as ladders to watch out for before we arrive in Brest.
Gareth Glover - Qingdao: Well what a great sight is was to have all 12 yachts ready to race each other. We started with a few time runs from the line. Unfortunately this put us to far from the VHF range and the flags for the start of the race and missed the start by five minutes.
The plan was for a Spinnaker start, which is the first time we have had to put one up on Qingdao but the crew did a great job and up when the A2 Spinnaker and we quickly made up the lost time and pull back up to the front few yachts next to Derry~Londonderry~Doire.
All was going fine until the gybe, after the gybe the pin which fires the tack fired so we quickly got back tacked on but lost a lot of places, but this happened three times each time we gybe. The crew did a great job on getting the tack back on (the end of the Spinnaker that go's on the bow) but unfortunately moved our way back and had to watch the rest of the fleet sail away.
After working hard all night this morning we had pushed back into the fleet and we are now making our way up the English Channel under our Light Weight Spinnaker with the other yachts in sight. With light winds ahead this race is anyone’s for the taking.
Matt Mitchell – Mission Performance: After a few hours toiling with our primary winch system the engineer and his team managed to get the problem solved, the biggest problem was getting the covers off to get access to the gear box in the first place. After that they reported that the fix was easy enough.
The first half of the evening last night was fairly lumpy with light winds as we were trying to claw our way to windward. Then, after a few hours of very light winds, the story has changed completely and we have a nice north easterly air flow blowing us along with our Spinnaker 1 flying.
Overnight more disaster struck as our navigation PC, which is due to be retired in Brest, kept freezing, and we inadvertently entered into the forbidden Dover TSS, which if the race office aren't obliging in redress for a known and pre-existing equipment failure, will result in a six hour time penalty at the end of the race.
So as enjoyable and amazing as the first 24 hours of the race has been, we have been plagued by small bouts of bad luck, though as they say, bad things happen in threes so I am pleased to have gotten our three out of the way early!
Today looks to be a promising day with the potential for a scorcher of a day, if a little light on breeze.
Vicky Ellis – Switzerland: What a day on Switzerland! After Sunday’s truly memorable send-off we started bright and early in the River Medway yesterday morning to a stunning still sunrise over the moored fleet of 12 Clipper 70s, all rafted together. After slipping lines we headed out to the race start location, hoisting main sails on the way and contemplating the first choice of headsails, poled out Yankee 1. When the helicopter arrived, brandishing the letters TV on its underside, that sealed the deal, Switzerland kite it was! It was the first time up on the boat and the coast was free of shipping and the wind direction as good as it could be, so under the pressure of being luffed by Derry- Londonderry-Doire and overtaken by Henri Lloyd, we pulled out a mean hoist!
The first gybe wasn't as pretty though, having decided to go with it earlier than planned and do an inside gybe that had been accidentally set up rather than an outside, however after a successful, well-rehearsed letterbox style drop and re- hoist we held our ground, albeit towards the back of the fleet.
Overnight, a few buckets were in use as the wind increased and tuned to head us as we rounded Dover. Forecast was for it to lighten overnight which it did and the morning has seen us creeping back in with the middle of the fleet.
Dawn came with a spectacular Spinnaker hoist and a knot or two more boat speed so a welcome cheer on deck! That and a pot of fresh coffee will keep us stoked as we turn our thoughts to the comparatively wide open space of the English Channel ahead. The mood on board is excited, optimistic and full of banter; Nina Simone sums it up well, ’it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life...and I’m feeling good!'
Rich Gould – Invest Africa: So the first full day at sea and what a day it’s been. Race start yesterday was amazing, but downwind line starts always are. The whole fleet jockeying for positions a fair distance back from the line as no one wanted to be on course side (OCS) on the very first race start of our epic adventure.
As the 10 minute signal was sounded the crew became focused on the task in hand, the clock was ticking for the start of the world’s longest yacht race.
40,000 miles and a lap around the planet lie ahead of us. 'BANG' and the race had started. As soon as we were over the line the crew were working hard to prepare the Medium Weight Kite, halyard and sheets good to go and up it went. Not quite a perfect hoist but it was up and still in one piece. As we sheeted on and the kite filled we all felt Invest Africa (IVA) surge underneath us as she picked up speed. Instantly our boat speeds were in double figures, the race was on!
Making our way out of the Thames estuary was fantastic; as we ploughed through the murky brown waters we picked our first target, Derry~Londonderry~Doire. They were lying ahead of us also flying their Spinnaker 2. With the crew working hard on to trim the sails we gradually closed the gap from half a mile to a quarter and then foot by foot until we were right on their tale. With a bit of a cat and mouse game between the two of us we ended up alongside them as we fought to get passed. Time for a gybe and it went without a hitch, the result being some good gains made on our closest comrade.
As the day went on the wind dropped, shiftless, picked up shifted and then shifted some more. We have gained and lost and then gained a place again over night.
At sunrise the Spinnaker two went back into the sky, we are now making good speed once again. For now it looks like it’s going to be another beautiful day on the water.
With around 250 miles left between us and Brest it’s all still to play for so…Let's go get 'em!
Simon Talbot – Great Britain: The excitement of leading the fleet for the first hundred miles or so yesterday has given way to the frustration of playing catch up as most of the fleet sailed round us whilst we languished in a wind hole off Hastings.
The whole fleet has now been re-arranged in the order they came out of the light wind lottery and we are currently lying in around eight or tenth position depending on how you measure it. The race is still young and motivation to claw back the places is still high despite the frustrations that Mother Nature has dealt us.
Damian Parnham - Team Garmin Chris Hollis – PSP Logistics
What a start to the Clipper 13-14 Race. There was only one way to top the parade and that was to win the start with the kite flying right next to the south end pier.
However there was one little hiccup in the fact that the firing bullet that releasing the bottom point of the sail called the tack snagged, resulting in the sailing flying of the side waving about like a flag! No worries on board PSP Logistics...quick drop, sort it out and a smart deck hoist and we were off again.
We lead all the way to Margate in some tricky conditions, which involved multiple kite gybes and shallow water. Alongside Great Britain we were leading the fleet until the wind dropped before us allowing the fleet to catch up.
Since then the wind has built to 25 knots, changed direct, and disappeared altogether. Multiple sail changes required and the crew has responded with valour. Mission now...bust some grooves and make some moves and regain that lead we tasted earlier.
Patrick van der Zijden- Old Pulteney Sean McCarter - Derry~Londonderry~Doire
After the leading duo Great Britain and PSP Logistics sailed into a wind hole, both us and Henri Lloyd were able to open up a substantial lead that we've been swapping through the night. I went for a quick power kip and the guys woke me up three hours late to explain we had overhauled Henri Lloyd...great stuff!
Currently under Spinnaker one and full main heading at Ushant. Hopefully the breeze holds to get us through the next few hours of unfavourable tide before we step on the elevator to Alderney and beyond!
Pete Stirling - Jamaica Get All Right: Race start yesterday was very exciting and only being the second time all 12 boats have started a race together. Normally race starts are upwind but yesterday was down wind and quite strong making it harder to judge the distance and time required to get to the start line without crossing it too early. We kept out of trouble and crossed the line in what looked like fourth place. Crew spirits were high and everyone was looking forward to some close racing at the head of the pack. However, due to a number of mistakes and equipment failures, by the end of the day we were at the back of the fleet and well out of contention. Fortunately for us the wind has gone light and Jamaica Get All Right is slowly making its way back through the fleet. We are now in tenth place and team morale is significantly better than it was last night - get all right!