Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - Gold Coast Australia extends lead

Gold Coast Australia - Clipper Round the World Yacht Race
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is divided in to a series of eight legs. The first race in leg one started in Southampton, UK and will finish in Madeira.

It’s going to be a busy day in Madeira today as the yachts begin to make landfall at the end of the first race of Clipper 11-12. Gold Coast Australia is expected between 1400 and 1500 local time (1300-1400 GMT). The team, having made the tactical decision to go east for better winds and favourable currents, has consistently been extending its lead over the last 24 hours and is now 54 miles closer to the finish than the Finns.

It’s interesting to note that Qingdao has made a similar move during the last day and may well be able to capitalise on it to gain some all-important extra points.

There is a comfortable margin between second placed Visit Finland and the chasing pack which has just 13 miles between third and seventh places.

Visit Finland’s navigator, Tomi Lintonen, a research director from Tampere, Finland, who is taking time out of his job to compete on Leg 1 of Clipper 11-12, says, 'Another racing day under near perfect sailing conditions with the crew frequently inquiring about the Madeira ETA (estimated time of arrival). Different route choices at Cape Finisterre appear to have caused quite a spread in the fleet. The eastern route obviously paid off but our conservative choice of sticking near the rhumb line seems to have worked second best so far. Needless to say, we are all waiting eagerly for official reports on how our rivals have been performing during the night. No land in sight yet!'

Skipper, Olly Osborne, and his team can’t rest on their laurels, though. A simple mistake could cost them their second place as Singapore’s close shave with their medium weight spinnaker yesterday afternoon demonstrates.

Ben Bowley explains, 'The true wind started to build to over 20 knots and, whilst considering a racing change to the heavy kite, the unthinkable happened. We rolled hard off one wave and ended up with the wind on the wrong side of the boat and the kite wrapped around the forestay. Having got the wind back on the correct side of the boat there was an element of desperate pulling and tugging on various tapes of the kite. We were lucky and it refilled after just a minute of being wrapped not, however, without a small rip in the centre where it had dragged across the forestay. All hands were called up for an immediate drop and re-hoist of the heavy spinnaker. This evolution was seamless and it was not long before we were charging along at good pace again and the sewing machine was humming away merrily in the saloon – not for the last time this year I imagine!'

This all happened in an eventful day during which Singapore enjoyed some furious boat on boat racing with De Lage Landen. You can read Ben’s full report in the ‘Follow’ section of website.

New York has been at the head of the peleton for most of this race and as they near land thoughts are turning to priorities once they reach shore, according to Leg 1 crew member, Andrew Priest, who has taken a break from his job in executive search to race across the Atlantic Ocean in the challenge of a lifetime.

The 41-year old from London, UK, says, 'Key targets include new socks, non-itching pants, bacon sandwiches, kippers, a broad range of cocktails and the chance to email and call home without the background chatter of fellow crewmates and attendant 45 degree lean.

'Talking of heel, New York has been on a broad reach since early morning yesterday when we finally escaped the clutches of a miserable wind hole which had held us at bay for 12 hours. Since then we have experienced the best of fast downwind sailing with strong sun, enticing blue seas and steady, near-20 knot breezes.

'By late evening the swell had increased giving us the chance to test the surfing capability of New York for the first real time on this leg. Sure enough, a race boat designed for just such sailing delivered an exhilarating, sometimes too much so, ride with speeds of almost 14 knots as we surfed in the pitch black early hours, down rollers cresting with white plumes of spray. Great fun although the near broach followed immediately by a near crash gybe did spring anxious cries of, ‘Helm!!!’

'We are now about to gybe and set course for our finish line and with five boats now just ten miles apart and racing for third place it will be a nail-biting finish. For most, though, the race is only one way of keeping reckoning and the bars and restaurants of Madeira will be abuzz with talk of the last week's downwind sprints, wind holes and Bay of Biscay pain as crews meet up again for the first time since we left Southampton nine days ago.

'Beards, bruises and boasts of high courage, masterly tactical nous and fearlessness in the face of misfortune will all bear witness to a great first week as we prepare the boats tomorrow for the next passage, this time to Rio.'

Derry-Londonderry is snapping at New York’s heels and skipper, Mark Light, says it has been a stunning night’s sailing.

'I think we had everything,' he reports this morning. 'Powering along at ten knots with full main and medium kite, broad reaching, warm air, shooting stars, clear skies, flat seas and even dolphins came to play. I reminded the crew that it is not every day that you get to helm an around the world race yacht in such beautiful conditions... enjoy it! I know that five boats are all very close to each other (including us) so the finish line in Madeira will be a busy place later today.'

Welcome to Yorkshire’s skipper, Rupert Dean, gives us a light hearted insight into life on board and ocean racing yacht with an amusing soliloquy about pants this morning. You can read the full thing in the team diary pages of the official race website, and put yourself in the place of one of the 18 crew living in the close confines of a 68-foot boat.

'More seriously,' he says, 'it is now not far to go and a real drag race with Derry-Londonderry, Singapore, De Lage Landen and New York to the finish line. Spinnakers have now been up for over 24 hours and it is with great relief that we are currently charging along. Everything to play for in this closely fought race. We're all looking forward to meeting up for a cold beer in Madeira.'

Geraldton Western Australia’s skipper, Juan Coetzer reports his team are in high spirits because, 'Down-wind sailing is great. It means that the boat is pretty level and the crew can get on with their daily chores a little easier. For the mother watch, it gives them an opportunity to experiment and spoil the crew. For lunch we had home-made crab cakes, tea-time chocolate brownies and popcorn. At night time the crew are now able to perform complex evolutions - poled out headsails and one tack to another with very few hiccups. Life is good on the high seas.'

'The crew is loving it, loving it!' exclaims Edinburgh Inspiring Capital’s skipper, Gordon Reid. 'We’re continuing our mission to get the boat moving fast and sometimes she delivers, much to the delight of all on board. After a long day in very light winds, creeping along under the wind seeker, in the wee small hours of yesterday morning, well before dawn we moved into a fairly stable wind zone with the wind from the northeast. Up went the spinnaker and she roared into action.

'Everything was going so well until the early evening when the spinnaker decided it fancied a swim. Following our successful recovery of the sail we poled out the Yankee 2 and the staysail on opposite sides and have maintained that fast, stable configuration, blasting downwind as the wind strength continues to build.'

The team representing Scotland’s capital city is now neck and neck with the team representing China’s sailing capital, Qingdao, in the race to Madeira.

Skipper of the Chinese entry, Ian Conchie, says, 'It’s been a fast and fun 24 hours. We finally got some good sailing wind from the north so we hoisted the medium weight spinnaker and off we went like a rocket in comparison to the last few days.

'We held the kite all day and all night which was a bit of a baptism of fire for most of the crew but we made it through fine, although we did put a couple of small tears in the sail but that just gave us an excuse to swap to the heavyweight whilst it was being repaired by the crew.

'Last night really showed how far everyone has come since signing up to take part in the Clipper Race, for the most part with limited or no big boat sailing experience, and here they were controlling a 68-foot ocean racing machine, planing downwind fully powered up.'

Positions at 0900 UTC, Tuesday 9 August

Boat - DTF*
1 Gold Coast Australia - 37nm
2 Visit Finland - 91nm (+54nm DTL**)
3 New York - 141nm (+103nm)
4 Derry-Londonderry - 145nm (+107nm)
5 Singapore - 147nm (+109nm)
6 Welcome to Yorkshire - 148nm (+110nm)
7 De Lage Landen - 153nm (+116nm)
8 Geraldton Western Australia - 200nm (+162nm)
9 Qingdao - 226nm (+189nm)
10 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital - 227nm (+189nm)

DTF* = Distance to Finish, DTL** = Distance to Leader. Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found here.

Clipper Round the World website