Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race fleet are currently on day seventeen of race seven, from the Gold Coast to Singapore.
Another day – another leader. The last 24 hours have seen the fleet move even closer, with Derry-Londonderry taking prime position.
'After a fantastic last 24 hours of racing the crew of Derry-Londonderry are delighted to have moved up into first position,' skipper Mark Light triumphantly reports to the Race Office in his 0600 report.
'We have been reaching under our heavyweight spinnaker for the last day and have recorded some great mileage. Our average speed over the last 12 hours has been over 11 knots and we have managed to claw ourselves just ahead of Qingdao on the leader board.
'With approximately 1,100 miles to go to the Basilian gate, it is becoming a match race between all ten Clipper 68s as we all start to converge onto the same headings and before long we will all be affected by the same weather!'
Qingdao found themselves in a huge wind hole yesterday seeing them lose speed and not least their prime position.
Skipper Ian Conchie says, 'We could do nothing but watch as Derry-Londonderry caught us up and slowly overtook us. When we cleared the Solomon Sea we had no choice but to head north as there was a huge wind hole above Papua New Guinea, but by the time Derry-Londonderry and Visit Finland got there it was gone, which has allowed them to use the South Equatorial Current so well.'
Visit Finland has made the most of sailing under its spinnaker and snuck into second place only six mile ahead of Qingdao.
Skipper Olly Osborne says, 'The breeze has been slightly more fickle today which makes a change from the consistent trades of the last 48 hours. The additional trimming and spinnaker work has been welcomed by the crew though as the long watches had become somewhat quiet.
'We parted company with our nearest rival Derry-Londonderry at dusk yesterday as we opted to drop our trusty heavyweight for some running repairs and made a slightly more northerly route under white sails for the night. So the position reports are awaited eagerly every six hours and there seems to be quite a difference in conditions within a relatively small area.'
Meanwhile Welcome to Yorkshire reflects on the current top three with skipper Rupert Dean assessing that there seems to be a 'considerable variation in what yachts are experiencing wind-wise, regardless of what the weather forecast predicts'.
The crew on board New York have managed to close the gap on the lead yachts over the past 24 hours, but have also struggled with the leader board changes.
'We are going to stick to our tactic for this race, as so far they are paying off but in ocean racing anything can and will happen, one day you are on a high the next a low. Sometimes this is hard for the crew members to take in as you move up and down the DTF (Distance to Finish) leader board,' says skipper Gareth Glover.
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And Gold Coast Australia’s bad luck continues. After problems with their medium weight spinnaker the last 24 hours has seen them rip their mainsail in two just above some of the re-enforcing that had been added in Tauranga to prevent this exact tear. However after a night of sowing the crew have managed to get back on track.
Skipper Richard Hewson reflects, 'Not to sound pessimistic but we have not had the best ‘luck’ so far this race. Sails have ripped for no apparent reason and winds have not played the game.
'The crew have been fantastic so far this leg and I have been very impressed with their good spirits and positive thinking. The repairs done on the mainsail last night were of a fantastic quality and will no doubt serve us well for the remainder of the race. A three per cent increase in boat speed is all that is required to catch the leader and now we are focused on recovering a podium position prior to the finish at Batam Island near Singapore.'
Despite being in last position, the crew of Edinburgh Inspiring Capital are making the most of everyday life at sea as they look to climb the leader board.
'The sun is shining, the sea is flat, ‘Big Frank’(medium weight kite) is up and trimmed,' explains, Gordon Reid, skipper of the Scottish entry.
'We have nine knots of apparent wind and we are bashing it out at over ten knots SOG (Speed Over Ground), bang on course giving us maximum VMG (Velocity Made Good), very much still in the South Equatorial Current. Some might say this is champagne sailing but unfortunately we have run out of champagne, otherwise it's not such a bad day at the office.'
The same counts for De Lage Landen with an upbeat report arriving in the Race Office from skipper Stuart Jackson.
'Another beautiful day at the other side of the world. While the whole of the UK is still coping with freezing temperatures, we are enjoying some of the most enjoyable sailing conditions possible. It couldn't be any better if it wasn't for that equatorial current that is slowing us down. While the most southern boats are romping along, we are doing our best to make good progress.Conditions haven't always been in our favour over the last weeks but the moral on board is still as cheerful as ever.'
Crew on board Geraldton Western Australia have been loving sailing with their heavy kite up for a few days and their skipper reports, they are getting good at trimming. But changing to the med kite was less of a success.
'This morning we were having gust of up to 35 knots, so we opted to drop the heavy weight kite and go for poled out headsails. During lunch the wind died off somewhat, and the crew have been craving to see the ‘Luff Buster’ aka medium weight kite hoisted. So we went for the hoist. The repairs held well like a well-heeled battle scare, however, we did discover two other tears in the kite. So unfortunately 'Luff Buster' had to come down for some more repairs. Heavy weight is back up again, and we are trying to catch Qingdao,' says Juan Coetzer.
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On board Singapore they have been sailing with the heavy weight kite and upping the speed, but other frustrations have forced them look ahead.
'The biggest pain of our life right now is the adverse current and at times our splendid boat speed is being slashed by up to 2.5 knots - pretty gutting really. Our frustration is being compounded by the fact that the yachts to the south are not only finding unseasonably good trades but are not having to contend with foul current. Indeed, it appears that many are getting a healthy shove in the right direction! All we can do now is make best possible speed to waypoint and hope that the fleet parks up in the Celebes Sea, allowing us to catch up,' says skipper Ben Bowley.
The fleet will arrive to a spectacular welcome in Singapore after mustering on the island of Batam in Indonesia prior to the coordinated arrival in Marina at Keppel Bay on 28 January. Positions at 1200 UTC, Monday 9 January
1 Derry-Londonderry 2214nm*
2 Visit Finland 2230nm (+16nm**)
3 New York 2237nm (+22nm)
4 Geraldton Western Australia 2246nm (+32nm)
5 Qingdao 2251nm (+37nm)
6 Gold Coast Australia 2260nm (+46nm)
7 Welcome to Yorkshire 2269nm (+55nm)
8 Singapore 2348nm (+134nm)
9 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 2411nm (+197nm)
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