CLIPPER 11-12: RACE 4 – CAPE TOWN TO GERALDTON WESTERN AUSTRALIA – DAY 27

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CLIPPER 11-12
RACE 4: CAPE TOWN TO GERALDTON, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
DAY 27

* De Lage Landen claims second place
* Sprint for third place continues to heat up
* Skippers reflect on tough race across the Southern Ocean

Today saw De Lage Landen secure their second podium position of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, as the sprint for third place continues with New York, Visit Finland and Geraldton Western Australia all vying for the blue pennant.

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Crossing the line at 1405 local time (0605 UTC), De Lage Landen went one better than their result in Race 3 and grabbed second place.

On arriving in Geraldton, Western Australia, skipper Stuart Jackson was full of praise for his crew.

“We’re really pleased with our last two results: a third on the last leg and then coming in second here has just been fantastic and it’s giving the crew a lot more belief about themselves as well. They’re working brilliantly as a team and I’m incredibly proud of them.”

Amongst the Dutch entry’s crew is Anna Back from Stockholm, Sweden, who joined the yacht in Cape Town for the race across the Southern Ocean and is one of eight ‘ambassadors’ for De Lage Landen.

“I enjoyed it very much – it’s been more than I expected but it has been great. We have had tough days and days when everything has been easy and everything in between. I’m very lucky!

“As happy as we all are to come in to land it feels strange at the same time because now it’s over but I will take so much with me from this, so much that I have learned and all the people you get to know – I will have this with me for the rest of my life,” explains the 28-year-old who works in sales support.

With the final five boats of the Clipper Race fleet held by light airs, the Race Committee took the hard decision to shorten the race and for Welcome to Yorkshire, Qingdao, Derry-Londonderry, Edinburgh Inspiring Capital and Singapore to finish the race at 1800 UTC yesterday.

“We eagerly await the start of the next leg where we intend to claw back some precious race points by hopefully getting ourselves back onto the podium once again,” reveals Singapore skipper, Ben Bowley, upon hearing their provisional positions.

“Our Southern Ocean race is over. The bad luck that has befallen us this race has culminated in a very, very poor result. Last place is a bit of a tough pill to swallow and one I personally have never had to swallow before in all my years of yacht racing. That is not to say that the experience has not been worthwhile; on the contrary, there is huge sense of achievement in what we have done out in the most desolate of oceans,” continues Ben, determined to better their result in the next race.

“Weeks of hard work, focus, physical and mental obstacles faced have given everyone the true challenge that they signed up for in the first place.

“The crew have worked incredibly hard to keep the boat moving at all stages of the race and at no point did we lose focus and drive. This result has served to make us all realise that misfortune is abundant whilst racing in the dynamic environment of the open ocean and that hopefully it will average out over the whole fleet by the end of the eight legs!”

Meanwhile on Welcome to Yorkshire, skipper Rupert Dean, is equally as optimistic regarding his team’s future prospects.

“The sun is out and we’re relieved to be sailing nicely to Geraldton along the rhumb line in good company with Qingdao. Life is good on Welcome to Yorkshire.

“The decision to end the race early for the back five boats has been met with mixed results from individual crew members and boats across the fleet. Some boats with hopes of overtaking others in front will feel penalised, others relieved. There never is an easy answer to this and, for sure, the Race Committee will have chewed the situation over thoroughly before making their announcement,” explains the Yorkshire entry’s skipper.

“Considering their decision affects not just this race, but crew members and sponsor commitments and the overall itinerary, it is important to appreciate that it was made in the best interests of the round the world race, using the information available at the time. It therefore must be respected.”

The last few days has seen the Yorkshire entry gripped in a battle with Qingdao, which saw the Chinese entry grab sixth position leaving Welcome to Yorkshire in seventh.

Derry-Londonderry, have been provisionally awarded eighth place in Race 4 with skipper, Mark Light, in a reflective mood.

“Another beautiful day in the South Indian Ocean as we make our way north easterly towards Geraldton, Western Australia. We are currently making about 8.5 knots under mainsail (protected with first reef), Yankee 1 and staysail.

“We have now officially finished racing due to a course shortening for the last five boats and at 1800UTC yesterday evening we recorded our position and calculated our relative distances to the finish line,” reports Mark.

“We have provisionally been given eighth position and this is a fair reflection of our race. Although the decision to end the race was initially disappointing for everybody on board, the Race Committee’s decision is definitely the correct one.

“This will allow us, when necessary, to use our engine to make best speed into port so that we will have enough time to repair, refuel, re-victual our boat and recharge the crew in order to be ready to take on another Southern Ocean leg towards New Zealand,” says the Northern Ireland entry’s skipper.

Meanwhile, a few hundred miles ahead, the sprint for the final podium position has continued to heat up as New York, Geraldton Western Australia and Visit Finland play their final cards in a bid to gain advantage over their closest rivals.

“The last report saw us a few nautical miles behind but like any race it is who crosses the line first and you can bet it’s going to be us!” confidently predicts New York skipper, Gareth Glover.

“We’re making good time towards Geraldton and during the night we made a numbers of sail changes to keep us at our top speed as the wind picks up to over 20 knots true; we are in top gear and pushing hard for that podium place.”

With Geraldton Western Australia and Visit Finland currently in Stealth Mode, Gareth and his crew will anxiously wait for their rivals’ positions to be announced.

“Visit Finland have played a great card in their Stealth Mode which will see them up to around 100nm from Geraldton, if we had our card to play this would be the time to use it,” explains Gareth, with New York having used their allotted Stealth Mode earlier in Race 4.

Stealth Mode allows a team to hide their position from the rest of the fleet for a period of 24 hours. The Race Office receives regular position updates but the fleet will not receive one, allowing the team to make any tactical changes in course in secret.

Currently in Stealth Mode until 1800 UTC today, the crew of Visit Finland will be hoping they have done enough to secure their third podium of Clipper 11-12.

“In true form the weather is giving us a last battering as we claw our way to windward towards the Abrolhos Islands which mark the last turn in our 4,800-mile route,” says skipper, Olly Osborne.

“The last 24 hours have seen more head sail changes than the last week put together as we try to squeeze every ounce of power out of the right sail plan. The duel for the last podium place could still go either way. With us and the good ship New York breaking almost even on every update, it looks like this one will come right down to wire. We have played our Stealth Mode in an attempt to throw her off the scent but with her slightly more southerly position she will enjoy a better wind angle and a boat speed that will be difficult for us to match.

“The relentless pressure is beginning to take its toll on the crew and the excitement of an imminent landfall is slightly marred by the sheer amount of physical input required to maintain our position,” explains Olly.

“The off watch are getting little or no sleep up forward due to the pounding of the hull and two crew members were thrown clear out of their bunks last night. However this will really be a race to remember, having pulled so much ground back to secure a top five finish, and to complete the leg without injury is more than we could have dreamed of two weeks ago.”

With main sail damage which saw the Finnish entry drop to tenth in the fleet a podium position would be a fairy tale end to their Southern Ocean race but one team who will be hoping for their own epic ending will be home port boat, Geraldton Western Australia.

Skippered by Juan Coetzer, the Western Australian entry are also in Stealth Mode, with their last update seeing them 276 nautical miles from the finish line.

It looks like we are well and truly into the south easter, which I understand is to be called the “Doctor”, reports Juan.

“The swell is a little messy, hampering our boat speed, but we are sailing straight for our home port, Geraldton. We are all looking forward to some fresh crayfish, red meat and beers when we get in, as rations are starting to run low. If all goes well we should be in tomorrow afternoon.”

Positions at 0900 UTC, Monday 31 October

Boat DTF*
1 Gold Coast Australia Finished at 30/10/2011 07:04:36
2 De Lage Landen Finished at 31/10/2011 06:05:16
3 New York 158nm
4 Geraldton Western Australia 276nm (Stealth Mode: Position at 0100 on 31 October)
5 Visit Finland 294nm (Stealth Mode: Position at 1800 on 30 October)
6 Qingdao Finished at 30/10/2011 18:00:00
7 Welcome to Yorkshire Finished at 30/10/2011 18:00:00
8 Derry-Londonderry Finished at 30/10/2011 18:00:00
9 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital Finished at 30/10/2011 18:00:00
10 Singapore Finished at 30/10/2011 18:00:00

*DTF = Distance to Finish

Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found at www.clipperroundtheworld.com.

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