Clipper boats are through the scoring gate

Perseverance has paid off for the crew of Hull & Humber. The team
crossed the scoring gate this morning at 0648GMT to take the first three
points in the South Atlantic race to Cape Town. But it wasn't a
straightforward victory for the English entry as skipper Piers Dudin

“So the scoring gate didn't give up its points too easily,” he says.
“After a straight run at the gate a weak front caught up with the fleet
and has had us reefing, kite gibing and changing Yankee headsails as the
final hurdles before we crossed.

“Full credit goes to the two watches and their watch leaders for the
effort they've put in over this week, especially with their night time
driving in very limited visibility. We're now looking forward to the
next blast on to Cape Town. We knew it was going to be tight and Race 3
is still way open.”

Despite chasing hard, both Uniquely Singapore and Cork were unable to
catch Hull & Humber before the gate, crossing at 0819 and 0911GMT
respectively to take the final points.

Skipper of Cork, Ireland, Richie Fearon, says, “We have had a good 48
hour period covering the most miles of the fleet. Now through the gate
it is back to business on our way to Cape Town. With the high pressure
system that is tracking north in front of us it looks like the next day
could mean some upwind sailing until it passes through.

Failing to make the gate in time, but more determined than ever to score
a hat trick by taking a third consecutive victory in Clipper 09-10, is
Team Finland.

Skipper, Eero Lehtinen, says, “Our great run due east with 10 knots
average boat speed while climbing up the leader board came to a sudden
end as we pushed our luck slightly too far, trying to steal some points
at the gate from the southern pack of leaders. We struggled in our gybe
and soon after the wind started dropping pretty fast. A slightly earlier
gybe would have probably saved us from this slow down, but, at the same
time, our chances of squeezing into the top three were rather slim to
start with.

“The main thing now is not to park up,” says Eero. “It's time to look at
the fastest route to Cape Town, which might not be that easy to judge.
The changes in the wind are sudden and some really random spins and
swirls are all over the weather files. Lots of patience will be needed
once again. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? I wonder when we get the fast
and easy leg?”

Meanwhile life north of the fleet has meant more steady progress rather
than fast sailing for skipper, Matt Pike, and his team on board
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital.

“There are no answers from the GRIBS, so can we get anything from the
bigger picture?” he asks. “The boats south seem to be trucking along
nicely, but the ones south east have slowed. All we can do is trim and
helm to what we have got and as soon as it starts to back and give a
reasonable course south east, gybe and rejoin the fleet. Meanwhile we're
happy to sail our own race and, with a full moon and good company, we
can only wait for the answer and enjoy the sailing.”

Whilst this morning has brought points and smiles to the faces of three
of the teams, the crew on board Qingdao have had a much more difficult
time of it. A crash gybe has reminded all on board of the potential
dangers of ocean racing as skipper, Chris Stanmore-Major, explains.

“What do we fear most? For the crew of the Dragon Wagon one of the
deepest darkest fears is of a crash gybe leading to a broach to leeward.

“This morning on Qingdao one of our demons has been laid to rest and was
a quiet, understated affair in the end. As I exited the companionway the
scene was one of confused consternation as those new to the boat battled
to understand why the kite, so commonly seen heading away from the
steering station, had now turned attention around and was trying to make
its way aft.

“A few commands to take in the slack on the mainsheet, ease the
preventer and sheet on the kite, a turn of the wheel and we made our
escape unscathed, save the knock to our speed and pride.

“What had caused this little dice with destruction? A moment's
distraction perhaps, a misjudgement made on a single wave, our review
today may reveal the process but it's irrelevant. What it has done is
pointed out to those in the crew who perhaps might have begun to get
complacent that the perils of our circumstance are ever-present and that
when we drop our guard for a moment, disaster climbs aboard. On the
constructive side what it has also done is allowed us to confront this
nightmare at least in a small way and realise that this is just another
problem that once faced can be separated into its component parts and
systematically problem solved.”

Positions at 0900GMT, Tuesday 3 November

Boat DTF* DTL*
Hull & Humber 2186nm 0nm
Uniquely Singapore 2196nm 10nm
Cork 2203nm 18nm
Team Finland 2241nm 55nm
Jamaica Lightning Bolt 2254nm 69nm
Qingdao 2294nm 108nm
Spirit of Australia 2334nm 148nm
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 2355nm 170nm
California 2374nm 188nm
Cape Breton Island 2443nm 257nm

(*DTF = Distance To Finish, *DTL = Distance To Leader)

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