Clipper 09-10, Race 2: La Rochelle - Rio de Janeiro, Day 15
* California takes the final scoring gate point
* Team Finland enters the Doldrums
* Hull & Humber suffers major spinnaker damage
California has taken the final scoring gate point, crossing at 2143 GMT last night, but it is a small consolation prize as they continue to lose miles on the rest of the fleet. Not to be disheartened, skipper Pete Rollason says, "It was very pleasing after the last few windless days to pick up the extra point for the scoring gate. Now that the wind is becoming steady, and should build over the next 12-24 hours into some steady north easterlies, we can start chasing down the rest of the fleet. The crew is feeling good and looking forward to some good spinnaker runs, however, the sail repair guys are looking a little nervous as they know we will be driving hard."
Meanwhile, Team Finland continues to extend their lead at the front of the fleet. Although, with the wind strength decreasing and the rest of the fleet pushing hard there is every risk that this lead could be lost as the boats enter the ITCZ.
"We are entering the Doldrums," says skipper Eero Lehtinen. "The number of squally clouds is increasing around us. Temperatures are soaring. The wind is showing signs of losing strength and the direction is unstable. We are trying to sail the fastest angle while trying to get as far west as we can.
"Luckily, the closest three boats have slowed down more than we did while negotiating the Cape Verdes," he explains. "Spirit of Australia went closer to the islands, while more or less following our track, and the high islands' impact on wind has clearly made them suffer."
Cork and Cape Breton Island have both chosen to sail through the islands, but their decision has proved costly. Not only have they lost some wind but they are now on a more easterly track.
A frustrated Jan Ridd, skipper of Cape Breton Island, says, "After enjoying a great run with the medium spinnaker, a consistent Force 4 to 5 wind and achieving some good mileage we have just run into light winds south of the Cape Verde Islands which is very, very frustrating! Although we saved a lot of miles cutting through the islands, I think we are now paying the price. I have had to head up on the wind to create some apparent and we're just 10 degrees shy of sailing due west. My crew want me to gybe and cannot understand why I am holding this tack. However, just to the south of us is an area of very light stuff according to the latest GRIB files and we have also pulled a lot of miles back on Spirit of Australia so I'm keen to stay in the same wind as them."
Following Team Finland's lead and choosing to sail north of the Cape Verde Islands is Caribbean entry, Jamaica Lightning Bolt. Skipper Pete Stirling says, "Jamaica Lightning Bolt, Team Finland and Spirit of Australia are the only boats that have taken a route north of the Cape Verde Islands. This has put us to the north of the fleet which means we appear to have lost a lot of ground to them. However, we are also further west which will hopefully pay off when it comes to getting past the Doldrums. The question is do you go west to avoid them but then have to sail upwind around the South American coast or take a more direct line and risk getting becalmed?"
Hull & Humber also chose to sail through the islands but this costly decision is the least of team's problems as skipper, Piers Dudin, explains. "We were piling on the miles early in the day yesterday, running nicely under our medium kite until it managed to wrap itself round the anti-wrap net and onto the inner forestay. Once there it powered up and tore a big hole through the middle section. So we took it down and hoisted the heavy weight kite which we ran with for a while until it managed to hook itself around the top spreader and ended up ripping the whole seam straight down the side. Our sail repair team was asleep at the time, following a seven hour repair to the medium weight kite, so we have redistributed the watches to enable them to start on the next repair."
Hull & Humber's spinnaker issues were partially caused by the challenge of flying a spinnaker at night in poor visibility. Skipper of Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, Matt Pike, understands the danger but recognises that sometimes it is a risk worth taking especially when the schedules reveal that their competitors are making better 24-hour runs. "The fear of flying a kite in the darkness has been replaced by the fear of someone holding a better course," he explains. "My crew are all becoming speed junkies. Every time the speed record is broken there's a queue at the wheel to better it. Even the off watch crew are wanting a turn! No wind instruments? No problem! Our wind awareness is as acute now as any professional team. Having missed our perfect wind window by only four hours we have struggled to claw our way back up the fleet, but it's happening and it's down to the crew's determination and hard work!"
Positions at 1200 GMT, Tuesday 6 October
Boat, DTF*, and DTL*
Team Finland 2418nm 0nm
Cork 2535nm 117nm
Spirit of Australia 2571nm 154nm
Cape Breton Island 2594nm 176nm
Jamaica Lightning Bolt 2634nm 216nm
Hull & Humber 2634nm 216nm
Qingdao 2641nm 223nm
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 2675nm 257nm
Uniquely Singapore 2758nm 340nm
California 3172nm 754nm
(*DTF = Distance To Finish, *DTL = Distance To Leader)
Full details of positions, updated every three hours can be found here
Cork now second in Clipper Race
Clipper 09-10, Race 2: La Rochelle - Rio de Janeiro, Day 15
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