Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2011-2012 third race, from Rio De Janeiro in Brazil to Cape Town, is currently underway.
The crew of Edinburgh Inspiring Capital had an unexpected rendezvous with HMS Edinburgh overnight in a fitting location close to Edinburgh, the world’s most remote settlement, in the Tristan da Cunha group of islands.
The team representing the Scottish capital was paid a visit by the Type 42 Destroyer, currently patrolling the South Atlantic, at around 0100 UTC.
Skipper Gordon Reid reports that, without warning, HMS Edinburgh appeared on AIS, the automatic identification system fitted on all of the Clipper 68s to identify nearby vessels.
'Suddenly she appeared 1.5 miles off our port quarter doing 17 knots straight towards us and then stopped very quickly and very close to us,' he said.
The Royal Navy deployed a Zodiac rib in order to carry out an exchange of gifts with their namesake taking part in Clipper 11-12.
Following a bad run of the 'tartan trots' on Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, HMS Edinburgh took the opportunity to replenish their stocks of oral rehydration sachets and anti- diarrhoea tablets during their rendezvous.
Commander Paul Russell also gave Gordon and his team a signal flag ‘Mike’, similar to a Scottish Saltire, and accepted a box of chocolate and an Edinburgh Inspiring Capital cap on behalf of his crew.
'It was awesome to have such a big ship that close in the pitch black night rolling up and down on the ocean swell. One last fast drive by and she disappeared into the pitch black night just as quickly as she had appeared,' Gordon said.
'Many thanks to Commander Paul Russell and his fine ship’s company for their continued support and taking the time to pay us a visit out here in the middle of nowhere, it is greatly appreciated and means a lot to us,' he said, adding that the wind was filling and his crew was smiling and enjoying the ride.
With over 500 miles now separating Edinburgh Inspiring Capital from the leaders, crews, friends and family will inevitably be trying to calculate their estimated time of arrival into Cape Town. In yacht racing, especially on transoceanic legs, the fleet can spread over long distances as the teams pick up different weather systems.
'Yachts have destinations and not arrival times, and that is an essential part of ocean racing that the crews will be starting to appreciate,' Clipper Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said. When he became the first person to circumnavigate single-handed and non-stop in 1969, Sir Robin spent 312 days at sea.
The Clipper Race Team monitors the fleet around the clock and is keeping a close eye on the weather as they make their way to Cape Town in the 3,300-mile transatlantic race.
'As always, we are closely monitoring the progress of all the teams in the fleet and will ensure that everybody has sufficient time in Cape Town to prepare for the next race to Geraldton,' Race Director, Joff Bailey, said.
Meanwhile, the leading three boats have begun the Ocean Sprint which starts at a line on longitude five degrees west and finishes on longitude two degrees east. The team which covers the distance of approximately 420 miles in the fastest time will be awarded a point, regardless of their relative position in the fleet so every team is up with a chance of clinching the extra point.
The first boat to start the Ocean Sprint was Gold Coast Australia, who crossed the line at five degrees west at 2334 UTC, followed by Visit Finland at 0531 UTC.
'In the hours leading up to the Ocean Sprint we were flying our medium weight spinnaker and the wind had started to moderate significantly. But as soon as we entered the Ocean Sprint the wind magically increased by about five to 10 knots and our boat speed shot up to over 10 knots significantly increasing our chances of winning the extra point,' skipper, Richard Hewson, said.
On Visit Finland, the team are keeping up the pressure on Gold Coast Australia and skipper, Olly Osborne, reports that his team is taking advantage of the more comfortable sailing conditions to have a bit of a 'spring clean'.
'The watch on bilge duty removed a good few dozen buckets of sea water from the rope locker and various nooks and crannies of the bilge, and we sent all the sole boards on deck for a good scrub too so life is now much more civilised on board,' Olly said.
The Visit Finland team also enjoyed a fleeting visit from HMS Edinburgh overnight, a welcome diversion after almost two weeks at sea.
'In true British Navy style she gave us warm greeting over the VHF radio and wished us well on our journey. It’s good to know that we have friends down here and the encounter did much to boost crew morale,' Olly said.
On De Lage Landen, Stuart Jackson said his crew was now enjoying flatter conditions with the wind on the beam.
'We are still doing reasonable boat speed despite the decreasing wind and we’re looking forward to the wind filling in, which the forecast predicts in around 24 hours time for the whole fleet,' Stuart said.
The De Lage Landen crew’s gratitude for the flatter conditions will be partly due to their lack of a functioning toilet after blocking both of the marine heads on board.
'We have managed to block both heads overnight, so buckets are in use which has brought much hilarity to the morning,' Stuart said. Such blockages raise the prospect of taking apart all the plumbing that transfers waste from the toilet into the sea, one of the least popular but most important jobs on board when it needs to be done.
The group to the south has been plagued by light airs overnight, and the team on New York logged just 34 miles in 12 hours.
'We spent most of the day bobbing around doing zero boat knots stuck in the middle of a high. We went south a couple of days ago to skirt around a high, except the next one caught up with us before we could get out of there,' New York skipper, Gareth Glover, reports.
'We even had the lightweight spinnaker up in the morning trying to outrun the high moving in, but after about an hour or so the wind completely died, flogging the spinnaker around and damaging the foot before we could get it down,' he said.
Gareth said his crew took advantage of the windless day to do some maintenance and one of the priorities was to free a broken Yankee sheet that had fallen in the water and wrapped around the rudder.
'One of our crew dove in with a snorkel, figured out the best approach and we were able to put the free end on a winch and pull it out,' he said.
On Welcome to Yorkshire, skipper Rupert Dean is frustrated that the forecasted westerlies have not materialised. But even though his decision to head south failed to propel his team up the leader board, it gave them an opportunity to sail though the remote Tristan da Cunha group of islands.
Rupert had anticipated that his team would pass within 25 miles south of the group of islands, home to the world’s most remote permanent human settlement, but all that changed due to the light airs.
'In order to keep the boat moving we had to alter our course and go right through the middle of the islands. To see the jagged peaks of Nightingale Island, the sinister block citadel of Inaccessible and the majestic volcanic cone of Tristan, with snow on top, bathed in bright sunlight, was amazing. What a privilege to see something so remote, that so few in the world have or will ever see,' Rupert reported.
'Whilst the Clipper Race is fundamentally about pushing our boats and ourselves to the max in order to win those vital points over our competitors, there are times when there is a lot more to it than that,' he added.
The team on Geraldton Western Australia is also experiencing lighter winds to the south.
'As we approached Tristan da Cunha, the wind went all light again. But it was a great sight to see, as this was the first land we have come across in days,' skipper, Juan Coetzer, said.
On Singapore, skipper Ben Bowley, said that life is made 'all the more frustrating' by knowing that the boats to the north have not experienced the same wind hole and continue to make excellent progress toward Cape Town.
'It has taken all my humour to stop myself from retiring to my cabin and screaming profanities very loudly into my pillow,' Ben admits.
'At least we are now moving, making a course over the ground of about 040 which is less than ideal but the sails are full and no longer trying to flog themselves to death,' he said.
Qingdao in the Clipper 11-12 Race fleet parade of sail in Rio de Janeiro. - Daniel Zeppe/onEdition
On Qingdao, still the most northerly boat, the mood of the crew has improved after the wind backed to allow them to point at Cape Town, according to skipper, Ian Conchie.
'The boat is also now sailing a lot flatter allowing people to move around more easily and giving everyone a chance to catch up on lost sleep,' he said.
Ian has also taken advantage of the conditions to attempt to sort out the team’s wind instruments which involved a trip up the 89-foot mast. He said he was not able to repair them in the sea state, so they are waiting for calmer conditions to try again.
After spending 24 hours in Stealth Mode, Derry-Londonderry has re-emerged in fourth position.
'We have all taken off our black balaclavas, switched our torches back on and began talking to each other on deck as we come out of Stealth Mode and back into the real world,' skipper, Mark Light, said.
'Our strategy seems to be paying off at the moment although it is very interesting to see the progress of the other Clipper 68s. There is so much interest in the four position updates that each boat receives on a daily basis and every time there are quick calculations of mileage to determine ground gained or lost,' he said.
Mark said his team was being 'ever vigilant' to maintain best course and speed whilst still looking after their boat.
'We’re in fourth place at the moment but desperately want to get onto that podium. At the same time protecting our current position is very important as we have worked extremely hard to get where we are and we are not about to give it away easily,' Mark added. Positions at 1200 UTC, Thursday 22 September Boat - DTF*
1 Gold Coast Australia - 1038nm
2 Visit Finland - 1199nm (+61nm DTL**)
3 De Lage Landen - 1138nm (+100nm)
4 Derry-Londonderry - 1204nm (+166nm)
5 Qingdao - 1235nm (+197nm)
6 Singapore - 1288nm (+250nm)
7 New York - 1366nm (+328nm)
8 Welcome to Yorkshire - 1412nm (+374nm)
9 Geraldton Western Australia - 1430nm (+392nm)
10 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital - 1573nm (+535nm)
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