Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2011-2012 third race started from Rio De Janeiro in Brazil and will finish in Cape Town. Gold Coast Australia managed to hold Visit Finland at bay overnight as the Australian team’s decision to head south began to reap its rewards.
'Gold Coast Australia is now set up in position for the final 600-mile run into Cape Town and is heading east with good speed. As we’ve headed south, Visit Finland has been behind us and catching up over the last few days, so we’re now determined to open the gap by making full use of the better pressure in the lower latitude,' skipper, Richard Hewson, said.
'Last night we did four sail changes in one hour as we changed down gears when the wind increased and did not back as predicted. The crew performed the sail changes well and was still laughing about it at the end, which is a testament to the mood and camaraderie on board,' he added.
As the team on Gold Coast Australia is currently without wind instruments, the crew is honing their skill at helming the boat by feel.
'The good part about this is that it highlights their senses and gives them a better sensation of helming the boat. Last night all the stars were obscured by cloud making helming quite a mission but this morning has been a completely different story, as the helmsman needed welding goggles as we sail into the biggest and most beautiful sunrise we have seen so far,' Richard said.
On Visit Finland, skipper Olly Osborne said the boats to the south were making up miles on his team as they are experiencing different winds as the centre of a deep depression passes below them.
'The racing has taken a new twist as the lower part of the fleet reap the benefits of their southerly position, giving them the chance to make up the miles on those that opted for a more northerly course,' he said.
With Cape Town less than 700 miles away, Olly is mulling whether to go south for the better breeze and face sailing a longer course or to hug the rhumb line and make the best of the shorter distance.
The crew on New York has enjoyed better conditions over the last 24 hours. 'It makes a welcome change after the last few wet days of low visibility and little wind,' skipper, Gareth Glover, said.
'We've all dried out now and our focus yesterday and today is on maintaining our boat speed. We entered the Ocean Sprint shortly after Port Watch came on deck and, once again, the competitive nature of the crew clearly started showing itself,' New York crew member, Lisa Perkin, said.
The time to beat for the Ocean Sprint is currently the time set by Derry-Londonderry. Mark Light and his crew completed the distance between five degrees west and two degrees east in 35 hours and 8 minutes, beating Visit Finland’s time of 36 hours and 30 minutes. The boat that completes the Ocean Sprint in the fastest time will be awarded an extra point regardless of its relative position in the fleet.
'Since joining the New York boat in Rio, I've been looking forward to seeing marine life as we sail towards Cape Town. There has been a lot of talk by the round the world crew about what they saw on Leg 1, so you can imagine my excitement on Friday morning when I came on deck for my Port Watch and saw that we had a few squid on deck!' Lisa added.
On Welcome to Yorkshire the crew has been enjoying 'perfect reaching conditions', according to skipper, Rupert Dean.
'With boat speed averaging in excess of 10 knots, it's great to be moving quickly again. We're heading east to minimise the distance sailed in our Ocean Sprint and to keep in the stronger winds further south,' Rupert said, adding that a move south could leave his team with an unwelcome beat for the final approach to Cape Town which would make it difficult to cover Geraldton Western Australia on her more northerly track.
For skipper, Juan Coetzer on Geraldton Western Australia, progress has been hampered by low visibility in variable wind conditions.
'We had a very wet day of sailing yesterday in thick fog again. The crew is trying really hard to keep boat speed up, so this means reefing and then shaking them out as the wind builds and then weakens,' Juan said.
On Singapore, skipper Ben Bowley said his team has seen great progress over the last 24 hours averaging 10 to 11 knots with the wind just forward of the beam.
'As all the boats start to converge it will be interesting to see how the different tactics play out on the final approaches to Cape Town. Not only do we have yet another area of light fickle winds to negotiate but there are some strong currents to contend with too,' he said.
Ben said his team is heading due east in an attempt to pick up the extra point for the Ocean Sprint which they started at 0128 UTC yesterday.
'Our next objective is to try and close the distance between us, Qingdao and De Lage Landen in a bid to get ourselves up into fourth place,' Ben said.
On Qingdao, Ian Conchie and his team have also enjoyed a day of sailing with good wind and sunshine.
Overnight the team had to deal with a broken staysail halyard, which came out of the mast, resulting in two crew members having to spend over an hour up the mast. 'Not an easy job even when the boat is moored alongside,' Ian said.
Ian said his team was pushing hard for the extra point on offer for the Ocean Sprint, but despite having good wind up north, the wind angle has prevented them from flying their spinnaker, putting them at a disadvantage to the boats further south.
'But we are still hopeful that as we move through this high pressure our strategy will pay dividends later,' Ian said.
Spirits are high on Derry-Londonderry after the team clocked the best time yet for the Ocean Sprint overnight.
'We’ve had a really good time over the last 24 hours or so doing the Ocean Sprint and emerged from the time trial during the early hours with a pretty good elapsed time. With Gold Coast Australia and De Lage Landen out of the competition for the extra point, we have set a very competitive time and could well be in with a chance of securing that bonus point,' skipper, Mark Light, said.
On De Lage Landen, skipper Stuart Jackson and his crew are planning the final approach to Cape Town after 14 days of ocean racing.
'With everything to play for and a highly motivated crew, the last days are looking promising. The beautiful weather is keeping everyone in high spirits and celebrations are in order today for our birthday girl, Esther Jover, so both watches are baking a cake and inflating balloons,' Stuart reports.
On Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, skipper Gordon Reid said the wind had backed and built to a nice steady 20 knots from the north.
He said his team had hoisted the medium weight kite and was making good progress averaging around 10 knots.
'It's been great to be flying the spinnaker again and the crew are still smiling and loving it. To use a football metaphor: it's a game of two halves and the Scottish coach is hoping to score some goals, so stand by!' Gordon said.
Gordon said the downwind conditions have given his team time to take care of all of the little maintenance jobs that are so much more difficult when the boat is heeling.
'Our stopover manager, Shaggy (aka Nick Rudd), is scheduling our shoreside plan and we will endeavour to get as much done as possible before we arrive in Cape Town whilst the on deck watch drive the bus fast as possible towards the race three finish line,' Gordon said.
'Sometimes the oceans seem so big but there is no getting away from the fact that the Scots have been here before,' he added, noting that a 910-metre peak called Edinburgh Peak lies some 350 miles to the south west on Gough Island.
Meanwhile, today marks the launch of the advertising campaign featuring one of the ten-strong fleet of Clipper 68s sailing in the Solent to promote the new range of Ultra Slim timepieces from Rotary Watches, the Official Timekeeper for Clipper 11-12.
The world-renowned company has taken the decision to announce the launch of the new Ultra Slim family of watches by launching a highly-charged advertising campaign that also celebrates the company’s sponsorship of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race.
The campaign starts today and will run through to December 31 on mainstream satellite channels in the UK including Dave, The Comedy Channel and ITV2.
The 30-second advert will be shown for the first time tonight during the Xtra Factor, which is scheduled to be broadcast at 2100 BST on ITV2. Positions at 0900 UTC, Saturday 24 September Boat - DTF*
1 Gold Coast Australia - 633nm
2 Visit Finland - 675nm (+41nm DTL**)
3 De Lage Landen - 726nm (+93nm)
4 Derry-Londonderry - 772nm (+138nm)
5 Qingdao - 817nm (+183nm)
6 Singapore - 834nm (+201nm)
7 New York - 911nm (+278nm)
8 Welcome to Yorkshire - 963nm (+329nm)
9 Geraldton Western Australia - 989nm (356+nm)
10 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital - 1190nm (+556nm)
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