Fast conditions to Hawaii for Clipper fleet

Uniquely Singapore’s leeward rail - Clipper 07-08
The fleet is recording some good surfing speeds as the strong westerly winds of the low pressure system reached the boats overnight. It is testing the helming and trimming skills of the crew to catch the benefits of these big surfs without losing control of the boat or the spinnaker.

Liverpool 08 skipper Ben Galloway sums it up in his email to the Race Team this morning. “Only top jockeys at the helm whilst these conditions persist with some great surfing. Not for the faint hearted,” he says.

Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper experienced a spectacular ‘wipeout’ last night with a ‘Chinese gybe’ under spinnaker which is usually caused by the helm over-correcting the boat’s track down a huge wave. Thankfully the
spinnaker was recovered with no damage to sail, boat or crew.

Skipper Hannah Jenner says, “At the start of the Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race there were three items on my list of experiences I didn't want to have: 1 - an MOB in the dark in rough seas; 2 - to trash a kite; and 3 - to ‘Chinese gybe’ under spinnaker. Up until this morning we had only checked off items 1 and 2. We have now completed the list. Crew, boat and kite all in one piece and smiling again!”

It is quite testing of the skipper’s nerve, too, with how long they will hold their nerve – Uniquely Singapore opted to protect their sail and change down from the heavy weight kite to a poled out headsail but this gave Liverpool 08 the chance to pull past the big red boat and pull out a few miles.

Ben says, “Close racing with Uniquely Singapore the last 24 hours but a black cloud this morning and they chickened out and dropped the kite giving us the lead over them.”

And every mile counts when the racing is as close as this. The first eight boats are within 40 nautical miles of each other, leading to perhaps the closest racing of the Clipper 07-08 series so far. With the overall leaderboard also very close, the crew will be spending their off watches calculating and re-calculating every position change and what that might mean to the overall points tally.

Despite the close match racing in the fleet, the crews have taken the time to send message of support to their fellow crew members on board westernaustralia2011.com, who suffered a rig failure yesterday morning. In a matched fleet such as this the crew are arch rivals on the water and close friends in port and, as such, their thoughts and best wishes are with the Western Australian crew.

A video of the aftermath of the rig failure will be posted on www.clipperroundtheworld.com today.

The Big Blue Boat, however, is jury rigged and making good progress towards the Hawaiian Island chain. They are holding their northerly position at present in an attempt to keep the favourable current as long as possible and, in the stronger winds the fleet is experiencing at the moment, they covered 45 nautical miles in six hours. This puts them at 1360 nautical miles to Midway Island, the proposed checkpoint on their route to the rendezvous with their new rig in Honolulu. The Race Team is liaising with the manager of the National Wildlife Refuge that is Midway Island, home to
the biggest albatross colony in the world.

The first of the yachts is due to arrive in Ala Wai harbour in Honolulu, Hawaii, on approximately 20 March.

POSITIONS AT 1200 GMT, 6 MARCH 2008

1. Hull & Humber: Distance to Finish (DTF) 2184
2. New York: DTF 2187 (Distance to Leader 3)
3. Liverpool 08: DTF 2201 (+17)
4. Uniquely Singapore: DTF 2209 (+25)
5. Qingdao: DTF 2209 (+25)
6. Nova Scotia: DTF 2210 (+26)
7. Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper: DTF 2215 (+31)
8. Durban 2010 and Beyond: DTF 2224 (+40)
9. Jamaica: DTF 2344 (+160)
10. westernaustralia2011.com: DTF 2486 (+302)

www.clipperroundtheworld.com