Conditions were perfect for the beginning of the next leg to Singapore with a strong southerly breeze blowing 15-20 knots.Spirit of Australia was followed across the line by California and their closest rivals, Team Finland, with only three points separating the Finns and the Aussies on the overall leader board. Chasing the front three and in order across the line were Cape Breton Island, Uniquely Singapore, Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, Jamaica Lightning Bolt, Cork, Ireland, Hull & Humber and Qingdao.
Race 5 is one of the most interesting and varied races of Clipper 09-10. The initial part will deliver some very high average speeds as the teams head north across the Indian Ocean. Approaching Christmas Island the conditions will then change quite dramatically as they sail across the Monsoon Trough, an area similar to the Doldrums where the winds will drop and temperatures will soar.Race Director, Joff Bailey, says, “The crews face a number of challenges on this race and the winner will be the team that can quickly exit the light patch of winds and get themselves into the steady airflow further north. The boats will also be crossing the Equator again and the new crew joining for this leg will have to meet King Neptune just before the finish.”
The fleet is now racing towards the first of many gates on the course and this one is particularly poignant as it marks the site of HMAS Sydney, the Leander Class light cruiser which went down with all hands in February 1941. Following a fierce engagement with the Komoran, a German raider, both ships sank and while many from the German vessel managed to launch their life boats, HMAS Sydney went down so quickly that no one survived. 645 officers and men perished, making it the biggest single loss of life for the Australian Navy.Each yacht has picked a representative to lay tributes in the form of a wreath of flowers as their boat passes over the war grave. They include a tribute from Her Majesty’s Royal Australian Navy which will be laid at the site by the crew of Spirit of Australia. During the three-week stop in Geraldton the fleet has been overlooked by a beautiful war memorial dedicated to the servicemen who lost their lives. Prior to the race start some of the crew headed up to the site to pay their respects, the centre point of which is a dome made up of 645 interlocking steel seagulls.
After crossing the first gate, the course routes the teams through the Java Sea via the Sunda Straits where there will be consistent headwinds for the last stage to Singapore.The fleet will arrive at Marina at Keppel Bay, Singapore, in a spectacular and colourful welcome ceremony on the morning of Saturday 23 January. During the stopover in Singapore the ten yachts will be berthed at the multi-million dollar facility, the centre-piece of Keppel Bay’s premier waterfront precinct – the only residential development in Singapore to have its own world-class marina on its own private five-hectare island. It is owned by Keppel Corporation, Team Sponsor of Uniquely Singapore.