Clipper Round the World Yacht Race second race in leg one, which started in Madeira and will finish in Rio De Janeiro, is currently underway.
'It has been a very action packed and fun filled 24 hours!' exclaims Singapore’s skipper Ben Bowley this morning.
'After yesterday morning's position report it was clear that with some careful trimming it would be possible to make it to the Scoring Gate at the very least in third place. We therefore elected to turn some of our westerly course into speed by coming up slightly on the wind, increasing our apparent wind speed and therefore our boat speed. At this stage we were still undecided as to which side of the Cape Verde Islands to head and therefore were not too worried about which end of the Scoring Gate we crossed, so long as we got there first!
'With the wind easing and coming aft, it was apparent that our sturdy old friend the heavyweight spinnaker was no longer ‘cutting the mustard’ in terms of drive and we decided to switch to the far larger, yet more irksome, medium weight.
'We now refer to the medium weight spinnaker as the unlucky kite (among other things) having given us more stress and hassle than any other sail in our wardrobe! True to form, once hoisted we discovered that we had missed a hole after inspecting it post spinnaker wrap the other night. The air on the foredeck turned blue (as is so often the case forward of the mast), the kite was dropped, swiftly patched and re-hoisted. A little time was lost but nothing too severe.
'By now it was fairly obvious that we were in an excellent position for the three maximum points we desperately craved and decided to take the shortest possible route for the Scoring Gate, max VMG required! We may have shot ourselves in the foot in the long run, giving away so much precious westing but it does give us some interesting options…'
For now Singapore will keep us guessing as they have gone into Stealth Mode and the team is not due to reappear until 1800 hours this evening. Once they do and all the times for crossing the Scoring Gate have been received and adjudicated by the Race Office, the final positions across the gate will be revealed. Three points will go to the team that has crossed first, two points for second and one point for third team to cross the gate.
Hopeful that they too have managed to be the first team across the Scoring Gate following an excellent run last night is Welcome to Yorkshire.
'We've done it!' exclaims skipper Rupert Dean. 'At 0255UTC we crossed the first Scoring Gate of Clipper 11-12 and what a relief it is. Time will reveal whether it was us or Singapore who passed the line first but it will be a close run thing. I'm proud of the Welcome to Yorkshire team's efforts to get us here in such a competitive position.
'The next challenge will be to maintain our momentum and pick the best place to transit the Doldrums. As a veteran of ten crossings, this has to be the most difficult one to approach yet. Due to the African Monsoon the ITCZ belt is expanding rapidly and is set to cover a large area to the west, an area where it is traditionally narrower. My original rhumb line route looks a bit dicey, so perhaps an elongated S-shaped route is required to take advantage of a light wind belt south of the Cape Verde Islands? Hats off to New York, and now Visit Finland, who are going for a more easterly route - a really ballsy move which may well win the race.'
Gold Coast Australia has reported that they crossed the Scoring Gate at 0350 this morning and the team is now waiting apprehensively to find out if they have scored any points and if the decision to make a run at the gate has been worth it.
Gold Coast Australia’s skipper, Richard Hewson, says, 'We’re currently heading away from Rio de Janeiro now after a change in tactics and are hoping that travelling the extra miles will be worth it.
'Our game plan for this leg was to cover the fleet, and we have been doing this throughout the race so far, anticipating a crossing of the ITCZ west of the Cape Verde Islands. The interesting weather patterns now seem to have split the fleet and we have had to make the decision whether to go to the west or to the east of the Cape Verdes. Many scenarios have been considered, looking at wind direction versus speed versus time for the next week from the available weather routing data. So now we are following the scenario that had us coming out of the other side of the Doldrums almost half a day faster than all other scenarios - this option outweighed the others by so much more it proved irresistible.
'The wind on our current course is getting lighter and lighter as we expected and now all we can do is trim, trim, trim and look up at the clouds.'
Geraldton Western Australia set sail in race two (from Madeira to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race - onEdition ©?nid=87409
Gold Coast Australia’s Aussie rivals, Geraldton Western Australia, have also opted to make a run for the Scoring Gate.
'The wind has been shifting around by 20 degrees, making it challenging for the crew to stay on course and trim,' explains skipper, Juan Coetzer. 'As we cross the Scoring Gate I have no idea if we got a third over the line or not. We wait and see.
'In other news, the champagne we were saving for a ceremonial drink for crossing the Equator decided to explode all over my cabin, so unfortunately we are a bottle short and a couple of days early. The best thing to do was to offer it to Davy Jones’s Locker and hope that he looks favourably on us.'
Closing in behind Geraldton Western Australia is Scottish entry, Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, after a decision to stay further east paid dividends.
Skipper, Gordon Reid, says 'Our tactical decision to stay further east paid off the night before last as we closed the gap and moved up the table to a position only a short step behind the leading pack. As we approach the Scoring Gate it appears that the boats to the west are struggling a little in the sometimes fickle winds.
'Sailing is very much dynamic; the wind, the sea, the trim and the tactics all coming together to form the game plan. The biggest decision and the one on everyone's mind is where to cross the fabled Equator, avoiding the ITCZ or Doldrums and all of the intense squalls which can rip sails to shreds. We have a plan for the purple beastie but does the weather have another plan? Only time will tell.
'The crew are amazing at looking after the yacht and are a highly motivated race team.
Everything they do, whatever it is, they do with enthusiasm and a real sense of commitment. But don't tell anyone though; I wouldn't want them to think I said something nice!'
Qingdao is also working hard to close the gap on the leading boats and the team’s skipper, Ian Conchie, also has the decision of where to cross the ITCZ playing on his mind.
'With each new weather forecast the Doldrums look worse and wider but the crew are getting better and better at light airs sailing so hopefully we should gain some ground on the leading pack,' he says. 'As the wind has dropped, the temperature down below has slowly increased and, although we have an air scoop and fans, still it gets warmer and warmer. We have definitely entered the Tropics.'
As Qingdao relies on electrically powered fans and an air scoop to keep cool, Derry-Londonderry had another trick up their sleeves but one which temporarily jeopardised their race to Rio yesterday, as skipper Mark Light explains.
'In our wisdom we, as a crew, bought an ice maker that we hoped would bring some light relief in the hotter climates. Yesterday it was decided that we would break it out from its storage and give it a test drive. It was plugged in, then… fizzle and bang! The plug had all but melted and most of the electrics on our main panel went dead. Excuse the pun – but not cool!
'We had lost power to everything that ran from our on board inverter. The prospect of venturing into the dreaded Doldrums with no communications, apart from the satellite phone and limited weather information was not appealing to say the least. I had nightmares of cracking out the ship’s sextant and revising my knowledge of celestial navigation. But after a quick call to the Clipper Race maintenance team for some advice, we attempted a repair. To cut a longer story short we eventually located the large 125amp super fuse inside the inverter and swapped it with one from our main engine battery charging system. Finally success and we were back in the game!'
Visit Finland set sail in race two (from Madeira to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race - onEdition ©?nid=87409
Meanwhile, at the easterly end of the race course both New York and Visit Finland are hoping that their unusual tactics will deliver the fastest route to Rio.
'This morning sees us southbound inside the Cape Verde archipelago with a fair wind and the prospect of joining the south westerly trades in a couple of days,' reports Visit Finland’s navigator, Tomi Lintonen. 'The big question on everyone's minds though is how long will the breeze last?
'We have employed a high risk strategy which goes against the traditional wisdom for crossing the Doldrums in this part of the world, and with this gamble the stakes are high. I have not been sleeping a great deal while we have been picking our way through these fluky airs and, not usually being one to deviate so far from the rhumb line, I will be glad when this ruse plays out.'
Conversely, De Lage Landen has employed the tactics of heading furthest west and it’s not only their decision to break away from the rest of the fleet that skipper Mat Booth is struggling with at the moment.
'We are still heading south west and watching the rest of the fleet with interest - it's always hard being the single boat doing its own thing,' he says.
'We've been running with the medium weight kite for most of the last 24 hours but at around 0200 I was called from the chart table on deck to be greeted by a spinnaker wrap. With the deck light on and some careful helming we got away with it but made the call to get the kite down. Conditions have gone fickle so we’ve opted to pole out the old faithful - our Yankee 2.'
With so many different tactics at play on this race all eyes will be on the Race Viewer and its three hourly updates to find out which team comes out on top. With more than 2,700 nautical miles to run until the finish line in Rio de Janeiro, it’s all still to play for. Positions at 0900 UTC, Wednesday 17 August Boat / DTF* / DTL**
1 Welcome to Yorkshire / 2714 nm
2 Geraldton Western Australia / 2762nm / +48nm
3 Gold Coast Australia / 2776nm / +62nm
4 Singapore / 2834nm / +120nm – In Stealth Mode: position at 1800 16 August
5 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital / 2835nm / +122nm
6 New York / 2843nm / +129nm
7 Qingdao / 2847nm / +134nm
8 Visit Finland / 2860nm / +146nm
9 Derry-Londonderry / 2870nm / +156nm
10 De Lage Landen / 2896nm / +182nm
DTF* = Distance to Finish, DTL** = Distance to Leader. Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found here
. Clipper Round the World Yacht Race website