Sea conditions force cautious approach

Qingdao sail change - Clipper 07-08

The positions have held over the last 24 hours, with the four-way battle for third place still raging. Durban 2010 and Beyond, continuing her move south, has almost rejoined the fleet in the same patch of water and it will be interesting to watch where her tactical move north finally places her. She has certainly gained over the two boats who have dropped south of the main pack, Nova Scotia and Liverpool 08 who have been experiencing marginally
lighter winds.

Skipper Ricky Chalmers has another decision to make. He says, 'There will come a point where we can squeeze the extra half a knot out of the Durban 2010 and Beyond racing machine by putting up the big white kite. When? That
is the question. Sea state is calming down a bit, but is still quite rolly. Putting up the kite too early in rolly seas could induce a broach in too much wind and constant collapses will lead to inconsistent speeds and a lower average speed anyway. But, launched at the right time, we will be faster – and that's what will count if we are to beat the other boats.'

On Uniquely Singapore, one of the other yachts in contention for third place, skipper Mark Preedy is also taking the safety over speed approach. He says, 'Now the wind is settling down and we really need to be shy reaching but I have few who could helm in this swell that is coming from the northwest. We will be broaching a lot which will just be too dangerous and likely cause breakages!'

The wind is due to come around to the north by Tuesday and by Tuesday afternoon the fleet will be packing away their spinnakers and experiencing headwinds, and mostly light headwinds at that, all the way to Oahu.

Whilst consistent steady runs mean that the distances to finish are ticking down, the crew will also look for other significant milestones to mark their progress towards their destination. During the next 24 hours at least the front six boats will experience one of the biggest on this race – crossing the International Date Line.

Circumnavigator and Race Secretary, Lizzie Nicholas, says, 'Although this does not necessarily bring about the same traditional celebrations as an Equator crossing, where King Neptune pays a visit and the uninitiated are ‘judged’ in his court, crossing the Date Line by yacht is a rarer achievement and one of some personal significance, in particular to the
skipper and the round the worlders on board.

'They have already covered more than half the mileage of their circumnavigation course, set by Clipper, and they are more than half way in terms of time, but crossing this imaginary line and watching the GPS longitude tick over from east to west means that they have now travelled more than a hemisphere away from the 16 September start in Liverpool, England. And they now have less than half the world to go before the triumphal finish in Liverpool’s Albert Dock on 5 July.'

The fleet is approaching another milestone, too – the start of the Hawaiian Island Chain, which begins just over the Date Line. The yachts will most likely stay to the north of the chain to experience the better winds and the reputed small but positive current on that side. There is no doubt that as the yachts pass Midway Island, they will cast their eyes to starboard and think of their fellow crew members on westernaustralia2011.com who will need to make a pitstop there.

The WA entry continues to make great progress under jury rig, managing an 86 nautical mile run in the 12 hours to 0600 GMT. Spirits remain high and those with an engineering bent are enjoying the challenge of finding additional ways to improve on their reduced rig!

Skipper Martin Silk says, 'Today, with plotter showing 99 hours to Midway, it not only felt like we were making progress, but also that we should celebrate. After pondering over two brown tarpaulins the decision was made.
Out came the heavy weight cross cut number 3 kite, but even with an extra low pole it just didn’t look quite right.'

The yachts will be berthed in Ala Wai harbour, Honolulu, where they will be hosted by the Waikiki Yacht Club, Hawaii Yacht Club and Magic Island Petroleum during the stopover in Hawaii. Updated estimated arrival times will be published online at www.clipperroundtheworld.com as the fleet nears its destination.

POSITIONS AT 0600 GMT, 10 MARCH 2008

1. Hull & Humber: Distance to Finish (DTF) 1306
2. New York: DTF 1330 (Distance to Leader 24)
3. Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper: DTF 1351 (+45)
4. Qingdao: DTF 1359 (+53)
5. Uniquely Singapore: DTF 1364 (+58)
6. Durban 2010 and Beyond: DTF 1367 (+61)
7. Liverpool 08ipper: DTF 1413 (+107)
8. Nova Scotia: DTF 1488 (+182)
9. Jamaica: DTF 1573 (+267)
10. westernaustralia2011.com: DTF 1915 (+609)

www.clipperroundtheworld.com

Berths are currently available for the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht
Race. For more information call +44 (0) 2392 526000 or email
oceanracer@clipperroundtheworld.com.