Stealth cards being played as Clipper boats battle for position

With the shearing of the spindle holding their wheel and subsequent
reliance on secondary steering, the future was looking uncertain for the
crew of California yesterday. However, morale reamins high on board and
22-year-old Emma Bosworth, a student from Great Missingham,
Buckinghamshire, has been impressed by the way her fellow team mates
have handled the situation.

“The crew was awesome,” she says. “It's obviously gutting to have it
happen as it will add days on to our arrival time, but spirits are
actually very high.”

Her thoughts are echoed by the team's skipper, Pete Rollason, who has
praised his crew once more on their excellent camaraderie.

“Yesterday morning brought a flurry of activity with various weird and
wonderful pieces of metal being located from all sources that may fit
the bill,” says Pete. “Any 'mad inventor' would have been proud of our
efforts and the crew never cease to amaze me with their upbeat spirit.

“We have managed to construct a new shaft for the wheel and this morning
will be the moment of truth to see if the repair can be completed

The last 24-hours on Spirit of Australia have also been spent with a
focus on repairs.

“Yesterday, we basically had to suspend racing while we fixed our
mainsail,” says skipper, Brendan Hall. “It took myself and our boat
engineer six hours up the mast in harnesses to fix the problem, working
well into the hours of darkness. At first light this morning we brought
our mainsail back to full power. The repair is looking strong and should
get us to Cape Town.”

Despite leading the fleet on the charge for the finish line, the team on
Cork, Ireland, has also had their share of troubles over the last couple
of days.

“We've had two gales, one from the south then one from the north and we
were becalmed in the middle of the two!” exclaims Irish skipper, Richie
Fearon. “The main drama which has unfolded is the breaking of not one,
but both of our spinnaker pole beaks, the attachments at the end of the
poles which hold the spinnaker away from the boat. The thought of not
having the spinnaker in action for the last 1,000nm was not an option,
so I set about the task of finding an alternative beak.

“Heads were bashed together and, after eliminating the option of making
one beak from the two broken ones, we decided to tie three spectra
strops on the end of the pole instead. This new arrangement was working
fine but eventually failed due to the block head movement rubbing
against the uphaul and opening the clip.

“Looking at the tapered end of the pole another idea came to me. I got a
spectra strop the same width as half way up the tapered part and
attached another smaller spectra strop to it and the block to that. It
worked perfectly and held in winds up to 25 knots on the beam. The crew
were really impressed and have named me MacGyver, which isn't all bad as
I'm sure they've called me worse!”

Yesterday the ten teams were sent the latest weather information which
revealed that the latest low pressure system is set to track with the
fleet for the next day or two and has also led Hull & Humber's skipper,
Piers Dudin, to change his plan to dive south.

“We think the forecast is showing that a more northerly route will pay
so we're holding our ground and waiting for the wind angle to improve,”
explains Piers. “So long as we stay fast up here and hold position
against the other three, we should have an advantage. They will have to
go further downwind, and therefore more slowly, to the line.”

Two of the three boats Piers is referring to, namely Team Finland and
Uniquely Singapore, have decided to go into Stealth Mode today. This
means that for a period of 24-hours their position will be hidden from
the rest of the teams. Only time will tell whether they, too, have
decided to follow Hull & Humber's tactics and keep a more northerly

“Our stealth mode should make things more interesting for the people at
home and give Uniquely Singapore and Cork a little something to worry
about,” says Mark Cole, Merchant Navy Officer and round the world crew
member on board Team Finland.

“The conditions yesterday were a little challenging with the swell and
near gale force winds swinging round from north westerly to more
westerly but, with some great surfing and a positive sail plan we have
been steadily picking off the miles. The hard work of the last couple of
days seems to be paying off and everyone on board is excited and
motivated. Regardless of our final position, if we continue to work as
hard as we have, we will know we have given it our all.”

With their eyes also firmly focused on a podium position in Cape Town,
Jamaica Lightning Bolt and her crew have had an excellent 24-hour run.

“The 'Lightning Bolt' is still fully powered up and on a charge,” says
skipper Pete Stirling. “Weather conditions have been very consistent
over the last 24 hours. The wind has backed to the west allowing us to
set full mainsail and poled out Yankee 2 and with the waves from more
astern we are now regularly surfing at up to 20 knots. We have therefore
averaged over ten knots boat speed for the last 36 hours.”

Hot on their heels and prepared to do battle all the way to Cape Town,
is Chinese entry, Qingdao.

“Speed was god last night,” says skipper Chris Stanmore-Major. “Great
attention has been paid to getting every ounce out of the boat as we are
propelled towards Cape Town. We also know Spirit of Australia is out
there somewhere, straining as hard as possible to eat up the miles
between themselves and Jamaica Lightning Bolt. But it is up to us to
take back the sixth position we gave them a few days ago and manouevre
ourselves alongside the Jamaican team ready for a final decisive push
going into the bay beneath Table Mountain.”

Positions at 1200GMT, Tuesday 10 November

Boat DTF* DTL*
Cork 500nm 0nm
Hull & Humber 577nm 77nm
Jamaica Lightning Bolt 618nm 118nm
Spirit of Australia 695nm 195nm
Qingdao 695nm 195nm
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 758nm 257nm
California 916nm 416nm
Cape Breton Island 943nm 443nm
Uniquely Singapore Stealth Mode
Team Finland Stealth Mode
(*DTF = Distance To Finish, *DTL = Distance To Leader)

JPK August 2023