No respite from tough conditions for Clipper fleet

Moist on the Foredeck of Qingdao Photo: Vee Howell - Clipper 07-08

The theme today is much like yesterday’s: it’s wet and windy out there! As the strong winds continue over the weekend for the Clipper fleet, the crews are battling messy seas, protecting their boats and crews against the elements and their positions on the leaderboard against the rest of the fleet.

The crews are also battling against water ingress – with waves breaking over the deck, it’s inevitable that with every sail change and crew member heading below decks, a fair amount of water will also head that way.

The navigation station, strategically located near the companionway for easy communication between navigator and deck, can also be in the firing line of any waves if the cuddy isn’t pulled all the way shut and sometimes even when it is! The paper charts will be tucked away safely and, as Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper’s Hannah Jenner describes, “A wave just swamped the nav desk and turned the logbook into papier mâché!” With vital navigation and communications systems in the nav station, the skippers and crew will be doing what they can to protect their electronics.

New York’s skipper, Duggie Gillespie reports, “Very wet and bumpy seas. The crew of New York is hanging in there. It is almost as wet below as on deck.”

The fleet has been experiencing between 30 to 40 knots of wind across the deck for the last 24 hours. Although this is due to ease by tonight and over the next few days, the long term weather forecasts show little respite for the fleet with headwinds all the way to Qingdao.

Jamaica is currently just holding onto their lead under pressure from Hull & Humber and Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper. Nova Scotia has continued her easterly track in an effort to get a better angle on the northerly winds as the fleet progresses up the coastline towards Qingdao. It hasn’t so far proved its worth but the Canadian team is not alone in trying it. Liverpool 08 skipper, Ben Galloway, confided in us that they, too, are planning to head offshore: “The Kuro Shio doesn’t seem to be giving us anything here now so venturing a bit further out on this tack to see if we can find a little extra push. Had over two knots with us for a while last night which faded as we got further up the coast.”

Nova Scotia and Liverpool 08 are looking to hitch a ride north on the ‘Kuro Shio’, which roughly translates as the Black Current, which flows northwards past the Philippines before sweeping out along the south eastern coast of Japan and out into the Pacific. With headwinds and contrary seas, an extra knot or two of current in the right direction can certainly help the miles tick down, especially when your competitors are not feeling the same positive effects.

Race Director Joff Bailey now anticipates the first of the yachts will arrive in Qingdao on 15 February. 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.

Berths are now available for the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race.
For more information call +44 (0) 2392 526 000 or email oceanracer@clipperroundtheworld.com.

Position Team Distance to finish
1 Jamaica 756
2 Hull & Humber 769
3 New York 778
4 Glasgow:Scotland with style 791
5 Durban 2010 and Beyond 793
6 Liverpool 08 812
7 westernaustralia2011.com 818
8 Uniquely Singapore 829
9 Nova Scotia 883
10 Qingdao 944