Clipper fleet rounds tip of Japan

Nova Scotia spinnaker wrap - Clipper 07-08
'No wind - extreme opposite of 24 hours ago. Sun shining but going nowhere fast,” says Duggie Gillespie, skipper of New York in his morning email to the Race Office.

The wind across the fleet has abated. The average speeds have dropped to 5 knots and the calmer conditions are giving the skippers and crews time to make repairs and undertake inspections before the next big winds start to take hold later today.

At the back of the fleet, Jamaica has managed to hold on to some stronger wind allowing the crew to reduce their deficit by about 20 nautical miles. Spinnaker problems on Tuesday saw them drop behind the fleet. Simon Bradley
and his crew should be able to stay with slightly more wind for the rest of the day, further reducing the deficit.

Race Director Joff Bailey says, “Now most of the yachts have entered the Pacific Ocean we can start to see tactics develop. It would appear that the vast majority are holding a north east course following the Great Circle route and taking advantage of the Kiro Shiro Current that sweeps up the Japanese coast. The only exception to this is Qingdao who appear to be taking a much more easterly course. It is unlikely that this early in the race Marcus and his crew would take such a big tactical gamble and at the next schedule at 1200 GMT Qingdao will most likely also be heading
northeast.”

Qingdao’s skipper and crew are in good spirits for the race across the largest expanse of water on Earth. Marcus Cholerton-Brown says, “What a difference a day can make! Yesterday we were flying downwind at 24 knots, holding on as we surfed with a poled out headsail in freezing temperatures. Today, the sun rose over Japan as we rounded Sata Misaki and out came the shorts and suncream. Marvellous. Everyone in one piece and all sails in good order for the Pacific. We are all looking forward to what the rest of the race may hold.”

There are two options to choose from for the onboard tacticians on the ten internationally-backed yachts competing in Clipper 07-08: go further north, cover more miles but stay with better wind strength and angles; or take a more direct route with fewer miles but with the potential for lighter winds and also headwinds. Only time will tell which tactic will prove to be the winning one.

The fleet is heading for Hawaii and the first yachts are due to arrive in the Ala Wai Small Yacht Harbour in Honolulu on approximately 20 March.

POSITIONS AT 0600 GMT, 29 FEBRUARY 2008

1. Hull & Humber: Distance to Finish (DTF) 3738
2. New York: DTF 3742 (Distance to Leader 4)
3. Liverpool 08: DTF 3752 (+14)
4. Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper: DTF 3754 (+16)
5. Uniquely Singapore: DTF 3758 (+20)
6. Qingdao: DTF 3777 (+39)
7. Nova Scotia: DTF 3783 (+45)
8. Durban 2010 and Beyond: DTF 3790 (+52)
9. westernaustralia2011.com: DTF 3796 (+58)
10. Jamaica: DTF 3891 (+153)

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