Currently in 7th place is New York
RACE 7: GOLD COAST TO SINGAPORE
* Fleet reflect on racing half way around the world
* Teams continue battle with intense heat
* Qingdao and Singapore rivalry heats up
It’s a day of reflection and celebration for the ten-strong fleet of
ocean racing yachts taking part in the Clipper 11-12 Race as the
skippers and crew members look back on a year which has seen them race
half way around the world.
“The race so far has been full of emotional highs and a great sense of
achievement,” reveals Geraldton Western Australia skipper, Juan Coetzer.
“The crew have all had time to reflect on how far they have come since
they started their training back in Gosport, UK, were the Clipper Race
HQ is based,” continues Juan, with his team currently sitting second
behind rivals Gold Coast Australia.
“We have just past our virtual mark and currently the wind has decided
to be kind and give us a massive lift to the next virtual mark of New
Ireland. We came across our first fishing vessel today, and sadly there
were two whales hanging around in the area.”
Meanwhile on board Australian rivals Gold Coast Australia, skipper
Richard Hewson reports perfect sailing conditions to conclude a year
which has seen his team claim five wins out of a possible six.
“It has been almost like a dream run and I have been saying to all on
board how lucky we are to have this wind as we sail up through the
Solomon Sea,” explains Richard.
“The area we are sailing through is so beautiful sometimes you need to
close your eyes and remember where you are, however you can be quickly
reminded as the wind shuts down completely and the familiar crack crack,
crack crack of the main flapping across the boat in zero knots of wind
and the random swell.”
Crew members across the fleet are being faced with stifling conditions
as they close in on the Equator with dehydration becoming a constant
“Today at midday, being New Years Eve we had planned to have champagne,
but it was so hot this has been postponed until later in the evening
when it cools down.”
The champagne sailing conditions were also short lived as the Australian
team today saw their boat speed fall to zero knots.
“During the calm conditions we have also made a wind scoop for the front
hatch to try to funnel what wind we can down into the ghetto. This
scoop will probably come in very handy for the remainder of the race in
the north east trade winds once we reach them.”
Also attempting to make best of the current scorching conditions is
Singapore’s skipper, Ben Bowley.
“It is not just the heat that is sapping our strength but also the
humidity. I did not think it was possible for the human body to sweat so
much!” explains Ben.
“Even our two Singaporeans (for whom you would think this climate was
vaguely acceptable) are suffering. Relief comes in the form of squally
downpours shortly after dark. Be aware though, if you are going to dive
below and lather up in shampoo and shower gel mid tropical shower, you
need to be sure there is enough rain left to rinse it out again when you
return on deck.”
Every knot of boat speed becomes of vital importance during light
conditions as Singapore continue their battle with Qingdao.
“We are making our way slowly north via a series of tacks, trying to
ensure that we are always on the making tack. Qingdao have once again
been our sparring partners and a good pace guide to let us know when our
performance is wavering. Occasionally the wind gets up to a more
sensible ten knots of true and our big red bus gets moving nicely; but
mostly we have to be content with ghosting along hoping that the rest of
the fleet is in the same predicament. It seems that the Solomon Sea is
not keen to let us go!”
Just 84miles separates the ten ocean racing yachts as they continue
north for the way point of New Ireland.
“With only a couple of hours away from New Year, the crew are getting
very excited in expectation of the Big Party,” reports Stuart Jackson,
skipper of De Lage Landen.
“Every once in a while we must take some time to celebrate what we have
achieved so far. For half the crew we are going to celebrate the last
five months of this year, since they’ve been gone from home and raced
halfway around the globe. Also I would like to take some time to thank
every one of them for the enormous effort that has been put in this
challenge so far.
“What a beautiful place and a great bunch to celebrate New Year with
signing off with the last blog of the year.”
With over 3,400 miles still to go, Race 7 is still anyone’s to play for,
with Welcome to Yorkshire’s skipper, Rupert Dean, hoping recent
conditions are a sign of things to come.
“Finally we’re moving again! After 24 hours of long calms, interspersed
with intense squalls, Welcome to Yorkshire is on her way.
“Sailing in these Doldrum like conditions has been quite a challenge. It
truly has been an all or nothing scenario. From keeping our yacht moving
in the lightest of zephyrs under windseeker, to deep reefing the main
and beating with staysail alone, constant evolutions and attention to
trim have been required,” explains Rupert.
“Navigationally it has been a challenge too, with 90 degree wind shifts
requiring numerous tacks, in order to remain on the one with the best
“The crew are working hard and all are looking forward to welcoming the
New Year in tonight,” signs off the Yorkshire entry’s skipper.
“A Happy New Year to all from the crew on New York,” says Gareth Glover,
skipper of the Big Apple entry.
“This New Years the crew of New York will be working hard on trying to
pull in some miles on the leading yachts and put some to the others and
working every point of a knot upwind. Life on a race yacht is nonstop
even on New Year’s Eve.
“As the fleet are tacking towards our next way point at New Ireland
which is still over 350 nautical miles away we were able to pull in some
miles on the Singapore and Qingdao to a point when we were able to chat
on the VHF,” continues Gareth, with his team sitting in seventh place.
“During the night there was a big patch of wind then no wind so if you
were lucky you would sail in 20 knots for 30 minutes and then no wind
until the next clouds came over so it was on and off all night.”
Ahead of New York by just three miles is Derry-Londonderry, whose
skipper, Mark Light, summed up the race to Singapore so far.
“Heat, thunder, lightning, squalls, torrential rain, fierce gusts, poor
visibility, tropical cyclones, unfamiliar waters, lots of reefing, all
in contrast to blue skies, lots of sunshine, calms, reefs, islands,
fishing boats and flat seas!”
Currently nine miles behind fifth placed Visit Finland, the Northern
Ireland entry will hope to make gains on the Finns during the New Year
“As you may appreciate we are experiencing a bit of everything and lots
of certain things – notably rain!
“Conditions are stifling down below decks and when it is not raining we
have the hatches open wherever possible just to make the temperature
slightly bearable inside!” says Mark.
“Unfortunately for us, we sailed through a large squall last night all
very prepared, knowing what to expect but afterwards didn’t quite expect
the wind to desert us while all other boats in our vicinity managed
after a short while to sail slowly away as we sat there helpless! Let’s
hope our luck will change in 2012!” signs off Mark.
“What a year it has been” reveals Gordon Reid, skipper of Edinburgh
“For me the entire year has been spent preparing and training crews for
the race. Being appointed skipper of Edinburgh Inspiring Capital in this
fantastic adventure racing around the world is definitely one of my
highlights; surfing monster waves in the beautiful, wild and furious
Southern Ocean another highlight.
“The sailing conditions have been fairly variable from very light winds
to howling squalls, thunder and lightning and heavy rain bouncing off
the decks, numerous head-sail changes all the way from Yankee number 1
to wind-seeker and back and constant reefs in and out of the mainsail,”
“We are still racing hard and our efforts seem to be paying out as we
continue to close on most of the other yachts.”
Positions at 0900 UTC, Saturday 31 December
1 Gold Coast Australia 3420nm
2 Geraldton Western Australia 3423nm (+3nm)
3 Qingdao 3443nm (+23nm)
4 Singapore 3443nm (+24nm)
5 Visit Finland 3464nm (+44nm)
6 Derry-Londonderry 3467nm (+47nm)
7 New York 3469nm (+49nm)
8 De Lage Landen 3480nm (+60nm)
9 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 3490nm (+70nm)
10 Welcome to Yorkshire 3495nm (+75nm)
*DTF = Distance to Finish, DTL = Distance to Leader
Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found at