The leading Clipper boats are almost free of the confines of the South China Sea and soon will be out into the open Pacific Ocean where skippers will be able to execute any tactical plans that they have been hatching in order to gain an advantage. Jamaica still leads but now by just 39nm from Glasgow.
Along the east coast of Taiwan there is a northerly current which eventually becomes the Kuroshio Current (Black Stream) of the east coast of Japan. This is the world's second largest ocean current and the leading yachts will be trying to hitch a ride on it to speed their progress to the finish. This is, however, a double-edged sword as the northerly wind is set to continue and this will create a wind-against-tide situation giving rise to some horrible sea conditions. These will be exacerbated by the predicted increase in wind strength which is expected to hit more than 30 knots over the next few days.
The move east by the fleet was inevitable as they all have to leave Taiwan to port. Those that made the move earliest could possibly benefit by a few miles from another north-bound current that passes up the west coast of Luzon Island in the Philippines, against the monsoon winds. This is one of the reasons Jamaica has lost a few miles to the chasing pack over the last 24 hours as they were one of the last teams to move eastwards.
Nova Scotia split from the pack several days ago; a deliberate move, the reasons for which they kept to themselves at the time. Skipper Rob McInally came clean in his morning report to the Race Office. 'Despite the fact that our instruments are full of gremlins and the joke about not knowing why we were on this tack, we came east to find a current going north out of the Palawan Passage and the Sulu Sea,' he explains. 'We have managed to get a good northeasterly tack being nearer Luzon, although the north tack has been pretty bad with no current to help. Today we have found the current and a
reasonable northerly tack. Unfortunately, the wind over current has made the nasty swell even more confused.'
One yacht that has lost by going east is Qingdao. The Chinese entry was hoping for a good result on this race to their home port but has been dealing with a medical situation over the last few days and has been making progress towards the coast of the Philippines in case they needed to drop off the crew member for hospital treatment. The patient, Du Fei, a 25-year old Chinese national, is now recovering from severe seasickness and a possible viral infection that is being treated onboard under the supervision of her skipper, Marcus Cholerton-Brown.
Race Director, Joff Bailey, says, 'Marcus has handled the situation very professionally and has been in contact with the Clipper Race Office and medical advisors in the UK via Falmouth Coastguard throughout. He made the decision to change course towards the Philippines 36 hours ago as a precautionary measure and the crew showed their normal grit and
determination and carried on racing, even though they knew they may have had to stop into the Philippines. Early this morning Fei had recovered sufficiently for Marcus to make the decision to continue towards Qingdao.'
Each of the Clipper Race skippers is trained to handle medical situations like this and they are aided by crew members throughout the fleet who have professional medical training. In addition, each yacht is equipped with a comprehensive medical kit supplied by our Official Supplier LE West, the premier supplier of pharmaceuticals, surgical equipment, medical consumables and first aid kits to the maritime community.
Joff says, 'We have worked very hard with LE West to design the optimum medical package for the Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race. We all hope that nobody gets injured or sick but it is reassuring that if crew members do need treatment they have the correct equipment and supplies onboard to handle most situations.'
Jake Airey from LE West comments, 'This is exactly the kind of situation we have worked with the Clipper Race team to make provision for. Our expertise in this field means we have been able to ensure that Qingdao and the other nine yachts in the fleet have the equipment on board to effectively handle medical emergencies at sea and provide treatment for crew members in a timely fashion.'
The first of the yachts are due to arrive in Qingdao on 14 February where they will be berthed in the marina that has been constructed to host the sailing events of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games later this year. Positions - DTF - DTL - at 18:00 GMT 6 February 2008
1 Jamaica 1145 0
2 Glasgow:Scotland with style 1184 39
3 Hull & Humber 1195 50
4 Uniquely Singapore 1195 50
5 Durban 2010 and Beyond 1198 53
6 Nova Scotia 1204 59
7 New York 1206 61
8 westernaustralia2011.com 1234 89
9 Liverpool 08 1260 115
10 Qingdao 1303 158