Battle for breeze and the lead in Clipper fleet

Hull & Humber receives Singaporean farewell

After each stopover, it always takes the first few days to settle back on board, especially when the stopover is centered around the Singaporean hospitality and wealth of restaurants the city has on offer. After a light up-wind start, battling against the current in the Singapore Straits, the fleet has reveled in getting into some open space and some stronger breeze.

With pressure on them to do well into their home port, Qingdao has not benefited from Chinese good luck despite a promising race start as skipper Marcus Cholorton-Brown explains: “It was a good start yesterday but then the entire fleet ground to a halt in a big wind hole. Unfortunately for us the breeze filled in slowly from Batam, isolating the three boats that had led after the start. How quickly roles are reversed in yacht racing. We’re now racing hard to claw way back up the fleet and it’s still all to play for.”

Many of the boats are in sight of each other, as is often the case during the first few days of racing, and the teams are able to benefit from being able to gauge their own performance on the other boats. Jamaica’s skipper Simon Bradley is clearly enjoying the experience as he reported this morning: “We are currently in sight of Glasgow: Scotland with style and Nova Scotia so racing is great fun as we monitor our performance against theirs.”

For those watching at home the initial tacking game makes for some exciting viewing on the race tracker, but for the navigators onboard it is a challenging time as they play the wind shifts and look for every advantageous current or tactic.

A group of Indonesian islands has caused a split in the fleet as some choose the route west of the island group and others are staying to the east. At the moment, the eastern group appears to have the advantage in terms of distance to finish but the long game could see Hull & Humber and Durban 2010 and Beyond picking up some stronger breeze and catapulting past the leading group. The South African team’s skipper Ricky Chalmers explained their decision to head west:

“After a slow start, the North East winds have kicked in and we are tacking our way towards O-Luan on Taiwan and our final destination of Qingdao. We have chosen to go west of the Indonesian islands of Pulau-Pulau and Anambas to avoid a light patch of wind on the Grib weather forecast in the hope that it is lighter than predicted. It is going to be difficult to tell whether we have gained any early advantage, but the boat is going well and the crew is getting used to being back onboard again.”

Conditions onboard are sticky and steamy below deck as the upwind conditions force the hatches shut due to water across the deck. New York skipper Duggie Gillespie described the uncomfortable sailing conditions this morning: “Very hot down below with the hatches closed while we head up wind. We are all trying to get back into life at sea and living at 30 degrees is proving quite challenging again.”

With the colder temperatures ahead, the crew will make the most of these last days of shorts and t-shirt sailing, before they shake out their oilskins and don their fleece layers.

POSITIONS AT 06:00 GMT 28 JANUARY 2008

New York: DTF 2422
Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper: DTF 2423, DTL +1
Jamaica: DTF 2425, DTL +3
Nova Scotia: DTF 2426, DTL +4
Hull & Humber: DTF 2427, DTL +5
Durban 2010 and Beyond: DTF 2428, DTL +6
Uniquely Singapore: DTF 2433, DTL +11
Liverpool 08: DTF 2434, DTL +12
Qingdao: DTF 2425, DTL +13
westernaustralia2011.com: DTF 2445, DTL 23

(DTF = Distance To Finish, DTL = Distance to Leader)
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The lion and the Zapcat went to sea

Clipper fleet leaves Singapore