Clipper boats picking up breeze as they head south

All the teams are reporting good speeds as the latest South Atlantic
depression sweeps across the fleet. This latest weather system should
keep all the boats flying at top speed towards Cape Town for the next 18
to 24 hours. In these conditions the Clipper 68s will average about 10
to 12 knots with peak speeds close to 20 knots. Travelling at speeds of
up to 30 knots, the depressions will eventually pass over the fleet so
the skippers will be looking at how to best position their boats in
order to gain maximum advantage from the next depression.

Skipper Brendan Hall and his team on Spirit of Australia are enjoying
the fast reaching conditions. “We are tracking across the top of a
Southern Ocean low pressure system and experiencing some amazing
sailing,” he says. “It's fast and furious out here.

“We are also being followed always by a trail of sea birds and yesterday
we saw our first albatross. It's the largest bird I've ever seen and it
was amazing to watch it glide around the boat before losing interest and
heading off in search of food.”

Whilst Spirit of Australia has been enjoying an albatross escort, Team
Finland has had a close encounter of a different kind as a UFO,
unidentified floating object, passed too close for comfort.

“We benefited nicely from the bright moonlight last night as we sailed
past a drifting steel buoy floating in the darkness,” says Team
Finland's skipper, Eero Lehtinen. “According to Mark Cole it was
approximately 1.5 metres high above water level and more or less the
same diameter. On top of it he saw a big ring, so it either was an
upside down navigation mark or some kind of a mooring buoy. The thought
of not having had two boat lengths of distance between us whilst
reaching at 10 knots of speed is not pleasant. What else is drifting
along here without steerage, navigation lights and lookout? Luckily at
least icebergs seem to be way further south, but let's not tempt fate!”

Continuing to hold their position at the front of the fleet, the mood on
board Hull & Humber is understandably upbeat following the team's
success at the scoring gate.

“Cork, Ireland, and Uniquely Singapore are still hot on our heels and
the rest of the fleet is already riding the next wave of pressure
towards us and closing us down,” says skipper, Piers Dudin. “However, as
they fall off the back of the systems so we'll hopefully be carried away
again.”

Following a difficult first Atlantic race to Rio, the team on board
Uniquely Singapore is delighted to be part of the leading pack, although
the points at the scoring gate were not easily won as skipper, Jim
Dobie, explains. “After a very close battle with Hull & Humber and Cork
we were pleased to get through the gate and get two points,” he says.
“However, they didn't come easily with a couple of spinnaker wraps and a
few small repairs needed to our medium weight kite.

“There has been no room for complacency with Richie Fearon and the Cork
crew hot on our heels. So close we can see them and have been tracking
them on radar all through the night.”

Canadian entry, Cape Breton Island, is continuing to struggle at the
back of the fleet and the team is more than 200 nautical miles behind
the leading boats. Skipper, Jan Ridd, remains optimistic and is hoping
his team's luck will change with the latest weather front.

“All is well and we have got a good breeze and starting to put in some
good mileage,” he says. “We are just hoping we get a little luck with
the weather now.”

Meanwhile, Jamaica Lightning Bolt is holding a steady position in the
middle of the fleet and, despite a lack of points at the scoring gate,
skipper, Pete Stirling, is happy with his team's progress.

“The three new crew members who joined the boat in Rio are fully
integrated and there is a very good vibe on board. We didn't get any
points at the scoring gate but we have known that would probably be the
case for several days now,” he says.

“We are in a comfortable position in fifth place, not too far behind the
leading pack, and poised to take advantage of any mistakes made by the
yachts ahead of us. There will be some very good fast downwind sailing
in the next few days caused by a big low pressure system passing to the
south of us. This will give the crew doing Leg 3 a taste of things to
come in the Southern Ocean!”

The warm conditions off the coast of Rio are now becoming a distant
memory as the crews are starting to wrap up to fight off the bitter
winds sweeping up from the south.

“The wind is starting to get a chill factor that some have not
expected,” explains Cork's skipper, Richie Fearon. “The crew have been
breaking out their thermals and woolly hats that were being saved for
later legs. But, the way I see it is if you are getting cool then you
are not working hard enough!”

Positions at 0900GMT, Wednesday 4 November

Boat DTF* DTL*
Hull & Humber 2023nm 0nm
Uniquely Singapore 2037nm 13nm
Cork 2039nm 16nm
Team Finland 2077nm 54nm
Jamaica Lightning Bolt 2084nm 61nm
Qingdao 2123nm 99nm
Spirit of Australia 2154nm 131nm
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 2189nm 166nm
California 2197nm 173nm
Cape Breton Island 2268nm 245nm

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West System Afloat
Pantaenius Sailing
M.O.S.S Australia
Jeanneau Sun Fast
West System Afloat