Winds freshen as Clipper fleet heads for Qingdao

Big bow wave on westernaustralia.com - Clipper 07-08

The Clipper fleet continues its beat to windward towards Qingdao as the winds freshen and the sea state rises to an ugly chop.

The same advantageous current that has propelled the chasing pack northwards towards Jamaica is running counter to the north-easterly winds and making for some very uncomfortable conditions onboard. It has been worth it though for some boats, like Uniquely Singapore whose skipper Mark Preedy attributes this current for their ascent back up the leaderboard:

“A lucky break. We chose to go inshore because we had the option and there was some suggestion earlier in the race that there was a current moving north that was more than likely the counter current that usually runs later in the year. We thought that Durban 2010 and Beyond had found it with their earlier catch up, but we were surprised to see them go offshore and thought that we had got it wrong. However, the current was there and the crew is over the moon with the jump in the positions!”

For westernaustralia2011.com and Qingdao, who have yet to break free from the Luzon coastline, this is causing some more varied wind conditions as the strength and direction are affected by the volcanic mountainous ranges in the north of the island. The WA team’s skipper Martin Silk describes their predicament: “Reef in, reef out, Yankee 1 up, Yankee 3 up - extreme changes of conditions along the Philippine coast, where a mile in or out makes a huge difference. Now with two reefs and a number 3 we will head into the Luzon Strait and play battle with the sea.”

Lizzie Nicholas, Race Secretary: “The conditions faced by the teams will continue for a while yet. The weather files show the wind strengthening to 30 to 35 knots and coming more northerly over the next 24 hours, and then not abating until the early hours of Monday. The skippers and tacticians onboard will be watching for these building winds, and preparing the boats and the crews for the slamming ahead.

“The boat preparations will include more rigorous deck checks, especially of reefing gear, and below deck preparations as food and boat spares are stowed safely away.” For the crew of Jamaica, the preparations of life on an angle include some “worry that they'll never walk straight or upright again!”

Today marks the start of the Chinese New Year and the Chinese entry in the Clipper Race will be hoping it proves to be a lucky one for them as they race to their home port. Luck has already shone on Qingdao crew member Carlo Orru as he was pulled back onboard by his fellow crew following a short stint over the bow during a headsail change. Skipper Marcus Cholerton-Brown explains:

“Carlo was on the foredeck helping to bring the Yankee 2 back for flaking. He was readjusting his safety line, as it was caught under the sail, when he went over the side. Carlo managed to grab the lower gaurdwire on his way over and hung from it, at which point three crew members on the foredeck grabbed his now inflated life jacket. After a few bounces on waves a halyard was attached to the D-ring on his life jacket and he was winched back onboard. The whole event from over the side to back onboard took no more than 40 seconds and Carlo was able to walk back to the cockpit and is in good spirits.”

Qingdao will now be fighting to catch up with the rest of the fleet as they head out into the Luzon Straits. Whilst the sea room that this stretch of water offers will be much appreciated by all the teams, with the deep waters lengthening the swell, the crews will notice a significant increase in shipping as they cross one of the main shipping gateways from the Americas to North East Asia.

POSITIONS - DTF - DTL - AT 0600 GMT 08 FEBRUARY 2008

1 Jamaica 962 0
2 Glasgow:Scotland with style 985 23
3 Uniquely Singapore 991 29
4 Durban 2010 and Beyond 1001 39
5 New York 1003 41
6 Hull & Humber 1003 41
7 Nova Scotia 1032 70
8 Liverpool 08 1061 99
9 westernaustralia2011.com 1082 120
10 Qingdao 1153 191

Onboard Durban 2010 & Beyond - Clipper 07-08


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