Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race race 2 - Madeira to Rio De Janeiro - Day 21.
The three Race 2 podium positions have been decided with the overnight arrival in Rio de Janeiro of Welcome to Yorkshire and Singapore, who finished second and third respectively.
The only English entry in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, Welcome to Yorkshire crossed the finish line in the shadow of Sugar Loaf Mountain last night at 2210 local time (0110 UTC) after more than 20 days racing across the Atlantic Ocean.
Second to the Scoring Gate behind Singapore, and therefore picking up two bonus points on this race, Welcome to Yorkshire has been locked in a three-way contest with Singapore and Gold Coast Australia for the last 3,000 miles.
'It was fantastic – the race had all the twists and turns you expect of a serious offshore race,' said skipper, Rupert Dean, as he and his team arrived in Rio de Janeiro.
Paying tribute to his exhausted crew, who will pick up their first pennant of Clipper 11-12 at the Race 2 prize-giving ceremony next week, Rupert said, 'We’re absolutely ecstatic on Welcome to Yorkshire. My crew have played an absolute blinder on this race. They’ve worked really hard, pushed the boat hard and we’ve come away with a just result. I said to them that they’d been in first second or third position the whole way from the start in Madeira so we are all really chuffed with that and to come across that finish line in second place. I’m proud of them – brilliant!'
Clipper 11-12 is ‘raced by people like you’, people from all walks of life who put their everyday lives on hold to sign up to the challenge of a lifetime. More than 40 per cent of them have never sailed before they begin their rigorous pre-race training, between them they have more than 250 professions and more than 40 nationalities are represented by those taking part in the world’s longest yacht race.
Against the backdrop of the iconic landmark of Corcovado, topped by the imposing, floodlit statue of Christ the Redeemer, 24-year-old paralegal from Leeds, Leonie Sutherland, said, 'Arriving in Rio was absolutely fantastic, I can’t believe we’ve done it. Actually I can believe we’ve done it; we’ve got an excellent crew, we’ve bonded magnificently. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew, we’ve had no fall outs, lots of smiles, lots of hard work. It’s been a whole rollercoaster of emotions both individually and as a team; we’ve experienced various weather systems coming across the Atlantic. It’s the challenge of a lifetime – it’s what we’re here for.'
Singapore has taken third place in Race 2, crossing the finish line this morning at 0320 local time (0620 UTC) after a herculean effort to overcome steering issues and maintain their top three position during the first transatlantic race of the competition. The result puts them second in the overall race standings, while Welcome to Yorkshire is likely to move up to third.
The Keppel Corporation-sponsored Singapore yacht had been in the lead and taken the maximum three bonus points at the Scoring Gate when their primary steering gear broke and they had to resort to the secondary system. Unwilling to accept that their race was over, the team set about finding a fix and within hours had fashioned a repair that enabled them to resume their race speeds and keep up the pressure on the competition across the remaining 2,500 miles of the 3,500-mile race.
As the happy but physically drained crew arrived in Rio, skipper Ben Bowley praised them, saying, 'I think we had a really strong team spirit beforehand but the way the crew really pulled together and dealt with the situation immediately afterwards and the real Can Do! attitude that they came up with just astounded me and it’s really gone a long way to galvanise what was already a strong team spirit.'
The Southampton-based yachtsman says it has also brought out a latent competitive spirit among the Singapore crew. He explains, 'This has very much strengthened our will to win. We have a crew contract on board outlining what our aspirations are and the top aspiration on there is to ensure we are always finishing in the top half of the fleet. We want to aim to finish the race overall in the top half of the fleet and we wanted to win at least one Leg. It’s getting to the stage now where if we don’t finish the campaign towards the podium, there’s quite a large majority of the team that will be a little bit disappointed – happy with the experience in general for sure, but we’re certainly setting our sights a little bit higher.'
Daryl Tai, 30, is an engineer and one of three Keppel employees taking part in Leg 1 of the race as part of the company’s staff development initiatives. He said, 'It was very exciting to race into Rio – and very surprising. I woke up at 5.30 yesterday morning as usual for my watch and discovered that it was light winds and we were only going at 1.5 knots. It was very upsetting, particularly when a turtle overtook us! The turtle was actually faster than us! We were trimming the boat for a while and got her moving, handed over to another watch and by the time we came back on watch we had about 40 knots of wind and there was water splashing all over. It was fun – we had an action packed day for our last day going into Rio.
'The experience has taught me to look at things from other perspectives, to never give up and to have trust in your fellow team mates.'
Two more teams, New York and Visit Finland, are expected to arrive within the next 24 hours. The remainder of the teams have some strong headwinds to contend with on their race to Rio, as Assistant Race Director, Justin Taylor, explains.
'A lingering depression in the south Atlantic is bringing strong southerly winds to the chasing pack; conditions not experienced by the lead boats. These winds are set to persist throughout the weekend before weakening,' he says. 'All the yachts should be in by midday Sunday, which is a good job as the local forecast looks pretty horrible. Certainly not the kind of weather one associates with Rio!
'The frustrating thing is the unpredictable winds from Cabo Frio, 70nm from the finish. Here the wind can be light one minute and 30+ knots the next and from the opposite direction. The decision for the crews is to make a long offshore tack to clear this area and then a long tack back to the finish or to short tack along the coast playing the lifts (favourable shifts of wind) coming off the huge land mass.'
The Race Viewer on www.clipperroundtheworld.com
shows both New York and Visit Finland going for the second option and taking the inland route.
At the end of a three week Atlantic crossing, these last days take their toll on the already fatigued crews, so the sight of many whales swimming alongside the boat, as they have been for Geraldton Western Australia, is a welcome tonic – especially as they are sailing into the winds Justin describes.
'The sailing on board Geraldton Western Australia has become quite exciting in the last 24 hours,' reports skipper, Juan Coetzer. As well as the whales, they spotted a rip in their medium weight spinnaker forcing a change up to the heavyweight.
'We knew that the wind was due to change to the south in the next 24 hours, so we tried to make ground west as best as possible. Midnight came and my watch leader, Nik Brbora, noticed a squall coming. I made the call to prep to drop the heavyweight spinnaker as we were starting to sail in a south easterly direction. It came half way down and then jammed. Just a small issue as the squall came through! So Pascal was sent up the mast to spike the head of the spinnaker. Great, now we could get back onto course. During the morning the wind increased and has become more southerly and we are putting in our third reef as the wind is blowing up to 35 knots.'
Qingdao and De Lage Landen have been match racing after crossing paths on the race down the Brazilian coast but both have opted to play their Stealth card in the closing stages of this race.
'We have finally parted company with De Lage Landen as we try different tactics for the last push to Rio,' says the skipper of Qingdao, Ian Conchie whose crew have had a great day under spinnaker and been treated to the sight of a couple of broaching whales.
'We still have a couple of tactical decisions to make: which way to go around or through the Pampo Oil field and how to deal with the change in weather due to day. One thing’s for certain we will continue to push hard for seventh place!'
De Lage Landen has emerged from their Stealth Mode in seventh place and it remains to be seen whether Qingdao’s secret tactics will have paid off when they are revealed again on the Race Viewer at the midnight position update.
Skipper of the Dutch yacht, Mat Booth, says his team has also been enjoying fantastic sailing conditions and the sight of a pod of whales just metres from their boat.
'This is why at our 1800 crew meeting yesterday when I informed the crew of a gale warning that had been issued by the Brazilian Navy Meteorological Service everyone found it hard to believe,' he says. 'Giving them the bad news, I read out the gale warning: southerly Force 8, due after midnight. With the warning in force for 24 hours, it looked like it could get lumpy!
'Sure enough, at around 0145UTC rain arrived and the wind died. This resulted in a total spinnaker collapse and some quite hurried crew work to get it down. No harm done, we dropped the kite and squared the deck, hoisting our staysail and Yankee to begin our beat to windward.
'As I type we've just tucked in a second reef in 30+ knots of wind. Unfortunately for us the wind is from the south west and we need to being going south west. One of my favourite terms aboard is ‘That's yacht racing’ and, indeed, tonight's hard beat to windward is all part of the game.'
Another correct wind forecast, this time for Derry-Londonderry, whose skipper, Mark Light, says, 'We have maintained speeds of between seven and ten knots so progress has been good, covering some decent distance in the last 24 hours.
'Well done to Gold Coast Australia who have finished the leg and are now enjoying the delights of Rio. We have been sailing in different weather and are doing all we can to arrive quickly and safely. The poor run of luck regarding wind looks set to continue as we have a large low pressure system developing to the south east of Rio which we will have to negotiate as we make our way down the Brazilian coast. Over the next three days we will see conditions change from lovely medium airs reaching with the kite up to full on beating into strong winds anywhere from the south. Not ideal but just another challenge for the LegenDerrys!
'The crew have been fully briefed and know what to expect and are therefore ready to dig deep for the final chapter of Leg 1. We have had a far from smooth ride during this race across the Atlantic and everybody on board agrees that we will have earned our beer when we arrive in port.' Positions at 1800 UTC, Thursday 1 September
1 Gold Coast Australia Finished: 0707UTC 31 August
2 Welcome to Yorkshire Finished: 0110UTC 1 September
3 Singapore Finished: 0620UTC 1 September
4 New York 39nm
5 Visit Finland 97nm
6 Geraldton Western Australia 190nm
7 De Lage Landen 226nm
8 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 324nm
9 Qingdao 337nm (In Stealth Mode, position at 0000UTC 1 September)
10 Derry-Londonderry 465nm
*DTF = Distance to Finish, DTL = Distance to Leader
Clipper Round the World website