Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race fleet are currently on day twenty five of race seven, from the Gold Coast to Singapore.
All ten yachts are now in Stealth Mode, with Edinburgh Inspiring Capital crossing the gate for the finish of the first part of race seven yesterday afternoon. Meanwhile the Race Committee has made a further amendment to the Race Instructions in order to allow the fleet to refuel before they begin racing again.
Race Director Joff Bailey says, 'As a precautionary measure, we have decided to extend the ‘cruise’ phase that the fleet is currently in to allow them to reach a Malaysian port for refuelling. We intend to refuel all of the yachts over the next few days. We have thought very hard about this decision and firmly believe that it is in the best interest of all crews.
'It means the boats that were due to resume racing this evening will now not do so as they will continue to motor to the refuelling port to top up their tanks. We are currently looking at when to ask the teams to restart and this is unlikely to be until Thursday as the first of them will not finish re-fuelling until late tomorrow local time,' adds Joff.
While the teams are still motoring the Race Committee has asked that they remain in Stealth Mode to minimise any risk of piracy.
After reaching the Celebes Sea gate at the end of the first part of race seven yesterday afternoon, Edinburgh Inspiring Capital has now caught up with Visit Finland and Welcome to Yorkshire who had been waiting for them in order to travel in company towards the restart gate.
'At 0600 UTC we met up with the other two yachts and after exchanging pleasantries we have continued in convoy towards the Basilan Strait,' reports Gordon Reid, skipper of the Scottish team. 'It is great to see the familiar friendly faces of our fellow ocean racers and exchange lively banter and possibly do a bit of bartering for goodies when we raft up together.
'We are making the most of the calm conditions and are continuing with the on board maintenance programme and deep clean where possible to allow us more down time in Batam and Marina at Keppel Bay in Singapore. The Celebes Sea seems to be a very fruitful fishing ground as we have seen and come close to dozens of small and often colourful local fishing boats. If we are lucky we might be able to trade for fresh fish. All in all, the cruise phase is looking good so far,' concludes Gordon in his report to the Race Office.
Their travelling companions, Welcome to Yorkshire, have also been busy with another day of maintenance on board and news has reached them of their sponsor’s success at the World Travel Awards where they won the Best Marketing Campaign. Their sponsorship of a yacht in Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has played a large part in boosting visitor figures, contributing to investment in the Yorkshire local economy.
'Huge congratulations from all the racing team on Welcome to Yorkshire to our sponsor for winning the prestigious World Travel Award for the Best Marketing Campaign,' says skipper, Rupert Dean. 'To do so for a second successive year is an outstanding achievement. We are proud to have played a small part in your campaign and will continue to promote the vibrant county of Yorkshire in ports around the world,' he says.
Cruising together further ahead of them are New York and De Lage Landen. The American team has successfully celebrated fixing their sewing machine, a repair Gareth Glover started yesterday.
'This machine has taken over ten hours to fix: as much time as it will take to sew over the tape on the kite. We were trying to work out if this sewing machine could go into the world record books as it’s possibly been round the world six times or more!' he says.
Gareth and his crew have also been spending their time in the baking sunshine dreaming about another podium position.
'We are looking at our route down to Singapore and what we can do to make up the time from us to the leaders. Looking ahead at the wind it looks like it’s going to be light again and this will sometimes make it hard to make any ground or speed over them. But we will be trying as always to get back into the top three yachts in the end.'
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Cruising along with them, De Lage Landen’s crew have been busy doing jobs on board. And all the elbow grease has paid off!
'I don't think the boat has ever looked so shiny. All the crew have done a fantastic job of clearing out every nook and cranny, cleaning it and re-stowing,' says Stuart Jackson.
'This has kept us all busy. Normally in light wind we would be trying to see what wind angle and sail configuration would work best, so light airs are usually when we have to concentrate the hardest to keep the boat moving.'
With all maintenance jobs in order, the Dutch entry is making the most of the last days of cruising with more ‘homely’ tasks.
'Muffin production has increased and there is now great debate as to which feature film is going to be shown tonight,' Stuart concludes.
Recuperation is also on the agenda in the second out of the four groups cruising through the Celebes and Sulu Seas, consisting of Singapore, Qingdao and Geraldton Western Australia. The three teams are ready to start racing again, while eagerly praying for more wind to arrive.
Skipper Ian Conchie from Qingdao says, 'Another sunny, windless day in the Sulu Sea but a hive of activity on board. We have finished our planned maintenance list and everyone is now keen to get racing. The question now is when to start? Is it better to watch the clock count down and start at the last possible minute or as soon as possible which will get the best wind? We are busy going over the weather forecasts and looking through the books trying to work out what the best plan is,' he explains.
Meanwhile the Singapore crew has been on another underwater adventure to check the yacht is in the best condition ahead of the next part of race seven.
'We've been working hard to get as many jobs done as possible before we get to our staging post in Batam. This should allow a good three days of rest and recuperation with luck. We had another swim yesterday evening whilst letting the engines cool before giving them a check,' says skipper Ben Bowley.
'Mainly, the crew are making sure we utilise these glassy calm waters to get plenty of rest in preparation for recommencing racing. Fingers crossed we shall have some wind by then.'
Geraldton Western Australia completes the trio currently cruising behind Gold Coast Australia and Derry-Londonderry.
Skipper Juan Coetzer says, 'Crystal clear water, sunshine and very little traffic. What else can one expect? The crew are working hard, doing as much maintenance as they can before we start racing again. Hopefully the breeze will pick up, so we can make some decent progress towards the finish line.'
Cruising at the front of the fleet of ten racing yachts are Gold Coast Australia, the first team to reach the end of the first part of race seven and Derry-Londonderry who were a close second.
Boiling away in temperatures up to 40C over the last 24 hours, the crew of the Aussie entry has been preparing for the race re-start in lighter wind conditions.
'The forecast for the next week is looking very light and so we are trying to mentally prepare ourselves for some light wind sailing in hot weather,' explains Richard Hewson, the skipper. 'Lots of work has been done to the boat over the past few days, so we are ready to go, all we need is wind!'
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'Today is the hottest we have experienced on the Sulu Sea,' concurs Mark Light on board Northern Ireland entry, Derry-Londonderry. 'Very clear skies, little cloud and not a breath of wind – thank goodness we are motoring across otherwise we would have been stuck here for days on end.
'We have managed to do a decent amount of maintenance and cleaning all to make sure our fine Derry-Londonderry stays in good condition and to maximise our down-time in Batam Island and Singapore. This is important as the forecast for the next few days shows very little wind in the South China Sea meaning a longer than anticipated passage down towards Singapore.'
Mark is keen for the Derry-Londonderry crew to gain their first podium position in Singapore.
'Whatever happens we are suitably rested and ready to begin racing again at any time in order to consolidate our second place and mount a challenge for the top spot. As always with sailing, and particularly ocean racing, the weather gods will have the final say.'
The first yachts are expected to arrive in Batam early next week. They will gather there before transiting the busy Singapore Straits and arriving on 28 January in the award winning Marina at Keppel Bay, where the stunning new Reflections at Keppel Bay development, designed by master architect Daniel Libeskind, now dominates the skyline of the premier waterfront precinct.
Teams are required to restart within 95 hours of suspending racing. Gate crossing times. All times are UTC
1 Gold Coast Australia 2154.59 13 January 2012
2 Derry-Londonderry 2314.00 13 January 2012
3 Geraldton Western Australia 0229.40 14 January 2012
4 Qingdao 0313.25 14 January 2012
5 Singapore 0325.31 14 January 2012
6 De Lage Landen 0936.29 14 January 2012
7 New York 1224.02 14 January 2012
8 Visit Finland 2022.00 14 January 2012
9 Welcome to Yorkshire 0322.20 15 January 2012
10 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 1551.06 16 January 2012 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race website