Clipper crews getting colder as boats head south

The hot topic amongst the fleet is Hull & Humber's dramatic rescue of
51-year-old crew member, Arthur Bowers, yesterday.

“Everyone had a reality check yesterday,” says Pete Rollason, skipper of
California. “We hope Arthur and the crew are ok and congratulations on a
job well done. It's been a lesson to all of us not to become complacent
with safety.”

His thoughts are echoed by Spirit of Australia's skipper, Brendan Hall.

“It was a sobering wake up call to us all,” says Brendan. “It's tough
sailing at the moment – cold and wet with a big sea and nowhere to hide
on deck.”

It was a risk that had been highlighted just days before by Qingdao's
skipper, Chris Stanmore-Major, who had put his team through a man
overboard drill. Hull & Humber's skipper, Piers Dudin, is obviously
pleased with the professional manner in which his crew handled the
situation for real.

“They have proved to be completely unflappable in an emergency,” he
says. “Arthur is an ox with a vice-like grip. Jeremy (Reed, 54), despite
his fondness for blogging and photo taking, was first to don the
harness and be lowered to help rescue his crew mate. Bex (Rebecca
Mayman, 19) didn't take her eyes of Arthur the whole time and even
shouted encouragement as we came closer. And the rest of the crew jumped
to everything that needed to be done to help get Arthur back on board
safely. I am indeed a very proud and lucky skipper,” he added.

After Arthur had been lowered back on deck and had a moment to catch his
breath, it is reported that he got up, walked back to the cockpit, took
his jacket off, and went down below to get changed.

It was as if he'd merely had a bucket of water dropped on him,” explains
Piers. “Within ten minutes he was propped up in his sleeping bag in his
bunk, his glasses on his nose, with his book and a cup of tea, looking
really quite relaxed.”

After any serious incident on board it is vital for the crew to undergo
a full debrief. This was carried out on Hull & Humber as soon as Arthur
was safely tucked up in his bunk. Once Piers was convinced that everyone
was happy and still keen for the chase, the sails were raised once more
and they took off after the leaders.

Having stolen the lead from Hull & Humber yesterday, Irish entry, Cork,
is still out in front and picking up pace.

“A great sail last night,” says skipper Richie Fearon. “The sea has
calmed down a little bit, making the waves more manageable and the
surfing conditions better. Nobody knows that more than Alan Moss who has
hit our top speed of the race so far of 24.7 knots”

It has also been an exhilarating 24 hours for California, as the crew on
board get to grips with some serious South Atlantic sailing.

“It's been pretty wild,” says Pete. “We've had some strong winds, big
seas and fairly cold temperatures. The crew has been putting in some
amazing work, performing headsail changes in extremely wet conditions,
putting in reefs and there's been some awesome helming. We are on a
mission to hunt down Edinburgh Inspiring Capital and over the last four
scheds we have gained on them.”

As California hunts down Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, so Cape Breton
Island is focused on catching California, but conditions aren't playing
ball as skipper Jan Ridd explains.

“We've had more than 24 hours of upwind sailing and we're looking
forward to it going behind the beam again. It seems like we are just
unlucky with the way the systems are tracking across us. We had a period
of light winds a day ago, under 4 knots, and we were expecting it to
move onto the fleet ahead allowing us a chance to catch up. But it never
happened and we are falling further behind.”

The Canadian team will be hoping they get into the same weather system
as Jamaica Lightning Bolt. Skipper Pete Stirling is enjoying the thrill
of some serious downwind surfing.

“The Southern Ocean rollercoaster continues with big following seas,” he
says. “Wind speeds gusting up to 40 knots and our boat speed is
occasionally topping 20 knots. It is also decidedly cooler than it was
just a few days ago so the oilskins and thermal clothing are getting a
full and proper workout.”

Meanwhile, further south, the team on board Qingdao has not been put off
by the fact that Caribbean entry is named after the fastest man on the

“We're concentrating on reeling in Jamaica Lightning Bolt,” says Chris.
“We're also having fun being the most southern boat and using it as
practice for next leg.”

Finnish skipper Eero Lehtinen and his team are having a tougher time of
it as Team Finland receives a battering from strong winds, heavy rain
and a large hailstorm.

“It feels icy cold when we get buckets of it all over us,” says Eero.
“The confused and high seas make driving a challenge and at times the
waves just break straight onto us. Hopefully the conditions will ease
out a bit before the next low gives us some strong westerly wind and
another fast ride towards Cape Town.”

Positions at 0900GMT, Saturday 7 November

Boat DTF* DTL*
Cork 1223nm 0nm
Uniquely Singapore 1242nm 19nm
Hull & Humber 1264nm 42nm
Team Finland 1291nm 68nm
Jamaica Lightning Bolt 1335nm 112nm
Spirit of Australia 1360nm 138nm
Qingdao 1364nm 141nm
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 1453nm 230nm
California 1469nm 246nm
Cape Breton Island 1616nm 393nm

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

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