Team Finland emerges from stealth mode in good shape in the Clipper race

The latest low pressure system has meant that all the teams are now
speeding their way towards the finish line in Cape Town. Several of the
boats have emerged from Stealth Mode and the fight for the podium
positions is as tight as ever.

“Team Finland is out of stealth and in good shape,” says skipper Eero
Lehtinen. “We have overtaken Hull & Humber and Uniquely Singapore which,
only a week ago, were both more than 50 miles ahead of us. We have less
than 350 miles to the finish line and the fresh westerly wind that has
given us these heavenly surfs and speeds is still with us.

“After winning two out of two races on the first leg it has taken some
time for the crew to realise that it takes some hard work to keep these
results up. We did not have a strong start for this leg and have had to
dig deeper than before. Hence I am really pleased about where we are now
and, once again, proud of this team.

“The only team that has been able to keep us at a distance is the Irish.
This is the team that has so many times before shown great pace but has
had so many setbacks that they are now lower on the score board than we
were expecting. Now it seems like it is their turn to taste the glory,
but not just yet. In yacht racing nothing is sure until one crosses the
line,” he adds.

With less than 5 nautical miles separating Uniquely Singapore and Team
Finland the Asian team has been frustrated that their closest competitor
has been able to keep such a close eye on them.

Skipper Jim Dobie says, “Stealth Mode has been less than stealthy for
us. No sooner had we gone in then Eero and the Fins pop up and we were
close all through the night. Only when we gybed off this morning did we
get a little bit more stealth like.

“Once again it has been another fast and furious night under poled out
headsail and we're still keeping good boat speeds. But, the race is on
for second place so no time to relax.”

Cork, Ireland, is the latest team to have entered Stealth Mode and until
they remerge later today the rest of the front runners will be on
tenterhooks to see if they have made any gains.

“We had a good night sail in Stealth Mode,” says Richie Fearon, skipper
of the Irish entry. “We have covered 139.4nm in 12 hours, so close to
the elusive 140nmn mark. The wind has eased now so unfortunately we
won't be able to break it for the next 12 hours and it looks like isn't
going to build enough between now and when we get into Cape Town.

“We haven't had any instruments on deck for the second half of the
race,” explains Richie. “The compass light has had a head torch shining
over it and our mast head light went out for a few days until the seas
were calm enough for us to change it. Having said that we have done some
of our quickest speeds, best timed distances and we have been in first
place for the whole second half of the race. Who needs instruments?”

Whilst Cork has managed some excellent 12-hour runs without their
instruments, the team onboard California is continuing to fight hard to
get some decent speeds under secondary steering.

California's skipper, Pete Rollason, says, “Having tried bolts of all
sizes to replace the broken spindle, nothing seems to hold the wheel
securely enough so we will persevere with the tiller until Cape Town.

“It has been slow progress as we have been trying to keep the boat speed
at a level that keeps the steering manageable in this sea state.
Although the sea does seem to be calming down now and the wind angle is
much better which is allowing us to keep a good course for Cape Town.
The crew is doing a fantastic job in cold and wet conditions and still
managing to have a laugh along the way.”

With California's slow progress, Cape Breton Island has moved into ninth
position but it's not a place gain that the team is particularly proud
of.

“Everything is still going well on the 'big blue canoe' with reasonable
six hour totals,” says skipper of the Canadian entry, Jan Ridd.
“Everyone is in good spirits apart from the sadness we all felt for
California as we passed them overnight. None of us take any pleasure in
gaining a place this way.

“All thoughts now are turning towards Cape Town and we have started
checking the boat to start any maintenance work that can be done at sea,
thereby maximising our down time in port. Cape Breton Island is in very
good condition and only some minor repairs need to be undertaken.”

Having led at the beginning of Race 3 to Cape Town, Edinburgh Inspiring
Capital is now fighting hard to regain some of the places they have lost
over the last two weeks of racing.

“We're achieving some great mileage and hoping that we're closing the
gap on Qingdao and Spirit of Australia,” says skipper, Matt Pike.
“Yesterday we were taking the miles from them but with less than 550nm
to the finish, have we got enough time? We think so and we ore
anticipating a close finish in the light and fickle winds off Cape Town.

The South Atlantic leg has provided a steep learning curve for all the
crews as they have been forced to tackle some serious ocean swell and
strong winds for the first time since leaving Hull. The skippers are
also beginning to learn what the boats are capable of but, at the same
time, have remained cautious not to push too hard and risk damage and
possible penalties.

“I think, over time, we'll get used to pressing Hull & Humber harder as
we learn her limits,” explains the skipper of the English team, Piers
Dudin. “Until then we're continuing to discover the best ways to drive
her quickly and what variation of sail set up works best.”

Qingdao's skipper, Chris Stanmore-Major, says, “With varying wind
strength and angle and two wave directions, which created sharp
pyramidal waves, the boat has rolled terribly and we have had to work
hard to maintain course and speed. For those who joined us in Rio it was
a sharp learning curve but our CEO, Colin Keogh (56) and electrician,
Paul Davis (31) have done a phenomenal job. Yesterday we also recorded
our highest boat speed yet with our watch leader and physiotherapist
Lois Bickerton (28) setting a new boat record for this race at 24.5
knots.”

Positions at 0900GMT, Wednesday 11 November

Boat DTF* DTL*
Team Finland 326nm 0nm
Uniquely Singapore 331nm 4nm
Hull & Humber 366nm 40nm
Jamaica Lightning Bolt 397nm 71nm
Qingdao 486nm 160nm
Spirit of Australia 508nm 182nm
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 545nm 219nm
Cape Breton Island 716nm 390nm
California 770nm 443nm
Cork Stealth Mode

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