Cat and mouse games as Australia leads briefly in the Clipper

It's taking all the skill and concentration they can muster to conquer
the light wind conditions but the teams in Clipper 09-10 are revelling
in the challenge light airs sailing brings.

Team Finland had opened up a small lead after the start from La Rochelle
yesterday morning but then as two of the other yachts, Cork, Ireland,
and Spirit of Australia, began gaining on them they suspected something
had become caught on their keel, slowing them down.

Skipper Eero Lehtinen reports, “We reversed the boat twice with mainsail
on preventer and it seems like we have got the handbrake off. At least
Cork has now lost some distance on us and we passed Spirit of Australia
who gybed recently and crossed us a couple of hundred metres on our
stern.”

Spirit of Australia's skipper, Brendan Hall, says, “We've had a good
night sailing. We managed to reel back in and overtake Team Finland
which gave the team a nice morale boost. They aren't some mythical,
unbeatable boat and they make mistakes just like the rest of us do.
Hopefully we can keep extending this lead over them as we charge across
Biscay.”

Team Finland's target now is Hull & Humber who are keen to make up the
points they lost on the first race. Skipper Piers Dudin and his crew
made a good tactical decision yesterday afternoon and it has paid off.
He explains, “We noticed the fleet marching into a calm patch on leaving
the bay and there was a nice patch of breeze over the other side so we
tacked for it and caught it and it carried us nicely around everyone out
into Biscay.”

Eero comments, “Hull & Humber seems to be up for a real cat and mouse
game as they keep searching for the pot of gold all over the place. The
more southerly route has paid off during the night and we have an orange
target to catch. We have now followed Spirit of Australia to port gybe
and are heading towards the northern coast of Spain hoping for a better
wind angle and more pressure.”

Race Director Joff Bailey explains the choices before the teams this
morning. “The wind is ten to 15 knots from the East. The boats have two
choices really. The first is to head towards the northern coast of
Spain, which will be faster sailing, or to go west, which will be
slower, but which they will need to do eventually. It's all a question
of timing.”

He added, “It's the same decision I'm facing in the Virtual Game!”
Around 30,000 people are now racing the same course as the Clipper 09-10
fleet online. Register to play for free by following the Virtual Game
link at www.clipperroundtheworld.com.

The Clipper Race is the only global challenge open to people from all
walks of life. Around 40 percent have never sailed before embarking on
their compulsory pre-race Clipper Training but they quickly move from
novices to competent sailors.

Spirit of Australia's skipper Brendan Hall is equally impressed with his
team. “Last night the crew did a perfect spinnaker gybe without any
supervision from me. I'm feeling very proud of them to be doing such a
technical evolution so well at such an early stage. Our anti-wrap net is
proving to be worth its weight in gold, saving the spinnaker from
wine-glassing at least three times when it collapsed in the light
patches.”

No such luck on board California according to skipper, Pete Rollason. He
says, “It's been an interesting morning and we've just recovered from
our first spinnaker wrap, where the lightweight kite to get very
friendly with the forestay. Fortunately, in the very light winds we
managed to encourage the two that a separation was best for both of
them.

“It's a little frustrating that overnight we seem to have dropped back
from the boats that were visible ahead and we can only be determined and
focused to pull it back today and eek out every bit of speed from the 4
knots apparent wind (8 knots true) that we have.”

Jamaica's skipper Peter Stirling sums it up: “Not quite the start to a
race we have become accustomed to as there was virtually no wind until
three hours after the start. It required lots of concentration both on
the helm and sail trimming just to keep the boat moving.

“The conditions are very uncharacteristic for Biscay at this time of
year as you might normally expect a southwesterly gale.”

 

Positions at 0900UTC, Wednesday 23 September 2009

1. Hull & Humber 4634nm Distance to
Finish (DTF)
2. Team Finland 4672nm (+38nm Distance to
leader [DTL])
3. Cork 4674nm (+40nm DTL)
4. Qingdao 4675nm (+ 41nm DTL)
5. Spirit of Australia 4675nm (+41nm DTL)
6. Uniquely Singapore 4679nm (+45nm DTL)
7. Cape Breton Island 4684nm (+45nm DTL)
8. Jamaica Lightning Bolt 4688nm (+54nm DTL)
9. California 4691nm (+54nm DTL)
10. Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 4694nm (+60nm DTL)

Full details of positions, updated every three hours can be found at
www.clipperroundtheworld.com.

Pantaenius Sailing
Windcraft
Listings Added
West System Afloat
Pantaenius Sailing
Nav at Home
Jeanneau Sun Fast
West System 3