Gold Coast holding onto a narrowing lead
RACE 10: OAKLAND TO PANAMA
* Fickle winds challenges teams in sprint to finish line
* Welcome to Yorkshire looks to spring tactical surprise
* Edinburgh Inspiring Capital and Qingdao continue their battle for
With yesterday’s introduction of the Clipper Race Committee’s shortened
course for Race 10, the sprint for the finish line has well and truly
begun as the ten-strong fleet continue to battle against the fickle wind
“With the finish line now within a couple of days reach, the race has
stepped up a gear as we try to squeeze every ounce of boat speed out of
the light and unpredictable wind,” explains Visit Finland skipper, Olly
“The decision to go with a more inshore route across the bay appeared to
working out initially as we saw some good gains on our closest
competitor De Lage Landen, but last night the tables turned again to
favour the more offshore boats and we are beginning to feel the pressure
of the boats closing from behind.
The Finnish entry currently sits just 176 miles from the Race 10 finish
line, with only De Lage Landen and Gold Coast Australia ahead of them.
“We have played our second Stealth Mode, and it is going to be a very
exciting and a tactically challenging couple of days running up to the
finish line. The heat is as ever a challenge but it does account for
what little wind we do have during the day as the land warms up,”
“Keeping the boat moving during the night is the greatest challenge, but
I am still hoping that our route will pay off during the coming days and
we are going to be doing everything we can to secure a podium finish.”
Hoping to keep Visit Finland behind them is the crew of De Lage Landen,
who are currently on a holding a more southerly course compared to the
“Very frustrating conditions and we are plagued by light airs,” reports
Stuart Jackson, skipper of the Dutch team.
“On the upside, we have been flying our spinnaker the entire time and
seen an amazing amount of wildlife. Pod of a couple of hundred dolphins
today! Spirits are good on board and everyone is looking forward to
finishing racing in the next couple of days.”
Currently in the lead, Gold Coast Australia skipper Richard Hewson,
describes the last 24 hours on board the Australian entry.
“We’ve been sailing well in light and fickle winds over the past 24
hours as we try to place a loose cover over our nearest rivals De Lage
Landen who are 50 miles to the south. Whilst the weather data shows that
there is more wind in shore, there are also some very high mountains
that need to be considered in the tactics and so we are trying to stay
as close into the shore as we dare without running the risk of being
becalmed in the lee of the mountains.
“De Lage Landen is well to the south and clear of the lee and so we need
to make sure that we try to stay in the same, if not better, conditions
as them until the finish,” continues Richard.
“Though we may make greater gains by sailing in shore and picking up the
terrestrial winds it is not worth the risk.
“Another day surrounded by this beautiful seascape filled with plentiful
wildlife. For the majority of the night last night dolphins accompanied
us as we coasted along the coast, their bodies lit up by the
phosphorescence in the water providing us with a fantastic light
display. Throughout the day more whales, dolphins, turtles and even a
shark coasting along behind the boat for a short period.”
Elsewhere within the fleet, Qingdao and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital have
continued their tussle for eighth and ninth position.
“Today started with some bad news, I’m afraid. In fact, at first light,
after a night characterised once again by very light airs, we spotted
Qingdao back in front of us,” explains Flavio Zamboni, skipper of
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital.
“I must acknowledge their decision to go inshore the previous evening
looking for better breeze was the right one. In fact, it clearly paid
off! We were not that keen on such a move since every time we’ve tried
to stay a bit closer inshore in this race we’ve never had any real
advantage from it.”
With around 300 miles left to race the Scottish entry will be hoping to
make a final assault up the leader board and move ahead of their Chinese
“Not keen on giving up, we spent all day trying to catch up and I must
praise the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital crew for their determination and
“Unfortunately, in these very light airs we are not competitive and,
despite much effort, we saw Qingdao marginally increasing their
advantage,” says Flavio.
“It hasn’t been all bad, though, since during the afternoon we ran over
a long line without getting tangled in it. That would have meant yet
another loss of time and avoiding that was certainly a lucky escape!”
Over on board Qingdao, Ian Conchie, skipper of the Chinese team, reports
of the same fickle conditions frustrating the fleet.
“As expected the wind has dropped away throughout the day until this
afternoon we were completely stationary. We have managed to get moving
again now with some careful helming and trimming but in these very light
winds it requires a lot of effort to just keep the boat moving.
“The temperature in the mean time is getting hotter and hotter. We
tried to measure the temperature on deck today but our little
thermometer maxed out so was probably not working but it has been over
40 degrees down below,” continues Ian.
“Despite getting a warning about long lines we managed to snag one today
and wrap it round the keel. This forced us to drop the spinnaker we had
up and stop the boat before sailing backwards to clear the keel.
“Whilst doing all of this we noticed that a turtle had got trapped in
the line as well but we managed to pull the line in and free it. The
crew decided to name it ‘Aggie’ after one of our Leg 6 crew members.
After a lot of effort (It’s not easy to make a Clipper 68 sail
backwards) we managed to clear ourselves as well and were able to
re-hoist the spinnaker. We lost time during all of this but Edinburgh
Inspiring Capital didn’t manage to overtake us! We also had the
spectacular sight of what we think was a blue marlin jumping clear out
of the water nearby.”
Currently in Stealth Mode, Welcome to Yorkshire, will be hoping to
spring a tactical surprise on the rest of the fleet with their position
hidden until 0000 UTC tonight.
“It all feels very ‘cloak and dagger’ at present,” reveals skipper,
By far the most southerly boat of the fleet when they entered Stealth
Mode, the Yorkshire entry may well have a trick up their sleeve which
could see them climb the fleet.
“As the fleet sails through the compulsory gates, which can also double
as finish lines, half the boats have been in Stealth Mode. This adds
considerable suspense to what has already been a mentally taxing, highly
tactical race,” signs off Rupert.
Currently occupiers of fifth position, Geraldton Western Australia,
experienced an eventful 24 hours, according to skipper, Juan Coetzer.
“‘Skip. Skip… The kite has come off the spinnaker pole’. Somehow the
snap shackle unclipped itself, resulting in the kite flying off the kite
sheet. The crew responded really quickly and we dropped the kite –
checked it for any damage, packed it back into the kite bag (un-wooled)
and hoisted it up again.
“Fun and games. The wind died off completely last night, there was not
even a breath of wind and so we were at the mercy of the current, and at
least it was sweeping us in the right direction. Sun up this morning the
breeze filled in a wee little and we were off again,” continues Juan.
“Now out of Stealth Mode, most of the fleet has opted to go into Stealth
Mode, so it is very difficult to gage how we are doing.”
Locked in a battle for sixth and seventh position are Singapore and New
York with only nine miles separating the two teams who are currently
placed fourth and fifth respectively on the overall race leader board.
“We’ve had another baking hot, glassy still windless day on Singapore,”
reports skipper, Ben Bowley.
“Speeds in excess of three knots were receiving a cheer things were so
bad; I heard but three cheers through the course of the day! We had
hoped that the sea breeze would fill in a little stronger and earlier
than expected but although late, it is giving us a nice push at present.
“Currently we are making six knots of boat speed for six knots of true
wind, reaching along with our light weight kite up. We are a little torn
between bearing off to reduce our distance to the next gate or to keep
sailing a bit deeper and try to remain in a slightly stronger band of
pressure,” continues Ben.
“As the latter failed us yesterday, we shall try the former this
evening. Now we are hoping that we have made better ground on the boats
offshore whilst they were in Stealth Mode and we can pip them to the
“It’s all still to play for in the bottom seven this race,” signs off
On board seventh placed, New York, skipper Gareth Glover, reveals a
sluggish 24 hours.
“A slow day here on New York after a good night’s racing as the sun came
up the wind turned off and wind speeds were less than two knots, the
only boat speed we had was from a small current taking us to the east.
“It was a very hot day and we did try a few different sail evolutions to
try and get us moving so the light kite went up and down a few times and
the wind seeker and Yankee 1 were also tried without any joy.
“As the sun set we gained a few more knots of wind and slowly started to
move again under Yankee 1, the wind is very patchy so it’s hard to keep
a good course and speed in any one direction so as the night cools down
we are hoping it becomes more steady and we can make good time to the
Derry-Londonderry, current holders of fourth place are still not ruling
out a podium finish in this highly tactical race to Panama.
“Now that the new finish line has been put in place we can now
concentrate on our final few days of tactics!” says Mark Light, skipper
“After a night of steady winds with moderate progress, we have a pretty
tough day, by around 1000 (local time) the wind had all but deserted us
leaving us bobbing around at the mercy of the Californian current and
the searing heat from the big, bright orange sun.
“It was all we could do to keep the boat moving in vaguely the right
direction, the wind was very light and fluky, sometimes veering
(rotating in a clockwise direction) and sometimes the opposite is true,
the wind backs (rotates in an anti-clockwise direction),” continues
“This keeps everybody on their toes as we do our best trying to get to
the new finish line, before the wind dies out completely!
“Before sunset today the wind filled in and we started to move.
Unfortunately for us the new wind, when it arrived, was blowing from
absolutely the direction in which we wanted to sail. We quickly changed
to our Yankee 1 headsail and are now sailing very slowly in a direction
that resembles our desired course.
“Hopefully, this breeze continues through the night to allow ourselves
best course and speed.”
The first teams are expected to reach Panama between 9 and 10 May, where
they will await their slot to pass through the canal before commencing
Race 11 to New York.
Positions at 0900 UTC, Monday 30 April 2012
1 Gold Coast Australia 124nm*
2 De Lage Landen 159nm (+35nm**)
3 Visit Finland 176nm (+52nm)
4 Derry-Londonderry 252nm (+128nm)
5 Geraldton Western Australia 266nm (+142nm)
6 Singapore 266nm (+142nm)
7 New York 275nm (+32nm)
8 Qingdao 310nm (+186nm)
9 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 316nm (+192nm)
10 Welcome to Yorkshire 321nm (+197nm) Stealth Mode. Position
at: 30 April2012 0000
*DTF = Distance to Finish, **DTL = Distance to Leader
Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found at