Clipper – how can you get excited about two miles?

In a 3,300-mile race how can you get excited about two miles?
questions Uniquely Singapore's skipper, Jim Dobie. “Well that's the
distance we made on Hull & Humber in the last six hours as we race for
the gate. Every mile counts now and is earned by the crew's hard work
and concentration.”

Having reaped the rewards of their tactical decision to head south from
the outset, Hull & Humber is now fighting to hold on to their narrow
lead as the fleet approaches the Race 3 scoring gate. Skipper, Piers
Dudin, is determined to get the first three points of the race to Cape
Town, especially having lost out to Spirit of Australia at the scoring
gate in Race 2.

“We're holding off some pretty fresh advances from the Singaporean,
Finnish and Irish camps, which is all we need to do for the moment,” he
says. “Thirty-six hours to go and we'll hopefully make it through the
scoring gate before the next weather system moves over us and stuffs up
a perfect South Atlantic breeze.”

Enjoying Hull & Humber's position at the front of the pack just a couple
of days ago, albeit for a short time, the team on board Jamaica
Lightning Bolt now find themselves back in fifth. “This is because we
have taken a more direct northerly route and are suffering from lighter
winds,” explains skipper Pete Stirling. “However, as long as we can stay
in the leading group, we are perfectly confident we can regain the lost
places before the end of the race.

“The next challenge is to try and get to the scoring gate ahead of the
other yachts which is just under 300 miles away to the east,” he says.
“The forecast is for the wind direction to do a full 360 degrees in the
hours leading up to our ETA there. Good tactics therefore will play an
important role in seeing the first three yachts through the gate…
watch this space!”

Keeping their nose just ahead of the Jamaican entry and hopeful of
getting their first scoring gate points of Clipper 09-10 are skipper
Eero Lehtinen and his crew on board Team Finland.

“Slowly but surely the scoring gate has taken over the focus as we move
with pleasant speeds due east,” says the Finnish skipper. “We managed to
find a nice lane between the new leaders furthest south and the earlier
front runners further north. In the race to east it looks like we still
stand a chance to squeeze into the top three, but it will be close.

“Also, the weather ahead of us, according to our latest GRIB file, looks
anything but steady and stable. Secretly I am hoping that the computer
models have lost the plot and we get to the gate keeping up this
heavenly speed.”

Edinburgh Inspiring Capital is praying for similar conditions as the
team continues to struggle with light winds.

“We have been there before,” says skipper Matt Pike. “Stuck in a wind
hole and watching the rest of the fleet sail past. So it was a more
philosophical crew that read the race positions, plotted the fix and
tried steering the boat south down into the wind zone. With such little
wind turning south gave such a low apparent wind we really didn't move,
heading east kept us in the light winds! But eventually, in a series of
arcs, we wriggled our way down, changing from the lightweight to middle
weight kite and once again hearing the sound of water passing the hull.
The spirit is there, the will to race as keen as ever and the GRIBS show
such a variation of conditions it's still a long way to Cape Town!”

Spirit of Australia has also managed to crawl out of the wind hole that
trapped them yesterday.

“The frustration of light airs sailing came to an end with the onset of
a building south westerly wind,” explains skipper Brendan Hall. “This
has grown overnight and now Spirit of Australia is power reaching at
speeds of over 10 knots, aiming exactly at Cape Town. Expect to see us
moving up the position table very soon,” he added.

Enjoying a slow but steady climb up the position table is the team on
board Qingdao. Skipper Chris Stanmore-Major believes their tactics are
sound as they keep a mid fleet position.

“Our rise has not been as meteoric as Hull & Humber's, but this has been
planned as we have chosen to cover the northern half of the fleet,” he
explains. “This will allow us to retain the chance to shoot north away
from trouble should the southerly route not work out long term.

“It's going to be an interesting Monday for those aboard the Dragon
Wagon, but all's well and we're ready to get stuck in!”

Positions at 0900GMT, Monday 2 November

Boat DTF* DTL*
Hull & Humber 2402nm 0nm
Uniquely Singapore 2415nm 13nm
Cork 2432nm 30nm
Team Finland 2440nm 38nm
Jamaica Lightning Bolt 2450nm 49nm
Qingdao 2473nm 72nm
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 2523nm 121nm
Spirit of Australia 2524nm 122nm
California 2527nm 126nm
Cape Breton Island 2591nm 190nm

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

M.O.S.S Australia
Race Yachts
M.O.S.S Australia
Race Yachts