Clipper 09-10 Race 3: Rio de Janeiro - Cape Town Day 8

04-Nov-2009
* Hull & Humber first across the scoring gate
* Uniquely Singapore and Cork secure the remaining gate points
* Qingdao reminded of the potential hazards of ocean racing

Perseverance has paid off for the crew of Hull & Humber. The team crossed the scoring gate this morning at 0648GMT to take the first three points in the South Atlantic race to Cape Town. But it wasn't a straightforward victory for the English entry as skipper Piers Dudin explains.
"So the scoring gate didn't give up its points too easily," he says. "After a straight run at the gate a weak front caught up with the fleet and has had us reefing, kite gibing and changing Yankee headsails as the final hurdles before we crossed.
"Full credit goes to the two watches and their watch leaders for the effort they've put in over this week, especially with their night time driving in very limited visibility. We're now looking forward to the next blast on to Cape Town. We knew it was going to be tight and Race 3 is still way open."
Despite chasing hard, both Uniquely Singapore and Cork were unable to catch Hull & Humber before the gate, crossing at 0819 and 0911GMT respectively to take the final points.
Skipper of Cork, Ireland, Richie Fearon, says, "We have had a good 48 hour period covering the most miles of the fleet. Now through the gate it is back to business on our way to Cape Town. With the high pressure system that is tracking north in front of us it looks like the next day could mean some upwind sailing until it passes through.
Failing to make the gate in time, but more determined than ever to score a hat trick by taking a third consecutive victory in Clipper 09-10, is Team Finland.
Skipper, Eero Lehtinen, says, "Our great run due east with 10 knots average boat speed while climbing up the leader board came to a sudden end as we pushed our luck slightly too far, trying to steal some points at the gate from the southern pack of leaders. We struggled in our gybe and soon after the wind started dropping pretty fast. A slightly earlier gybe would have probably saved us from this slow down, but, at the same time, our chances of squeezing into the top three were rather slim to start with.
"The main thing now is not to park up," says Eero. "It's time to look at the fastest route to Cape Town, which might not be that easy to judge. The changes in the wind are sudden and some really random spins and swirls are all over the weather files. Lots of patience will be needed once again. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? I wonder when we get the fast and easy leg?"
Meanwhile life north of the fleet has meant more steady progress rather than fast sailing for skipper, Matt Pike, and his team on board Edinburgh Inspiring Capital.
"There are no answers from the GRIBS, so can we get anything from the bigger picture?" he asks. "The boats south seem to be trucking along nicely, but the ones south east have slowed. All we can do is trim and helm to what we have got and as soon as it starts to back and give a reasonable course south east, gybe and rejoin the fleet. Meanwhile we're happy to sail our own race and, with a full moon and good company, we can only wait for the answer and enjoy the sailing."
Whilst this morning has brought points and smiles to the faces of three of the teams, the crew on board Qingdao have had a much more difficult time of it. A crash gybe has reminded all on board of the potential dangers of ocean racing as skipper, Chris Stanmore-Major, explains. 
"What do we fear most? For the crew of the Dragon Wagon one of the deepest darkest fears is of a crash gybe leading to a broach to leeward.
"This morning on Qingdao one of our demons has been laid to rest and was a quiet, understated affair in the end. As I exited the companionway the scene was one of confused consternation as those new to the boat battled to understand why the kite, so commonly seen heading away from the steering station, had now turned attention around and was trying to make its way aft.
"A few commands to take in the slack on the mainsheet, ease the preventer and sheet on the kite, a turn of the wheel and we made our escape unscathed, save the knock to our speed and pride.
"What had caused this little dice with destruction? A moment's distraction perhaps, a misjudgement made on a single wave, our review today may reveal the process but it's irrelevant. What it has done is pointed out to those in the crew who perhaps might have begun to get complacent that the perils of our circumstance are ever-present and that when we drop our guard for a moment, disaster climbs aboard. On the constructive side what it has also done is allowed us to confront this nightmare at least in a small way and realise that this is just another problem that once faced can be separated into its component parts and systematically problem solved."

Positions at 0900GMT, Tuesday 3 November
Boat                             DTF*        DTL*
Hull & Humber            2186nm      0nm
Uniquely Singapore      2196nm      10nm
Cork                           2203nm      18nm
Team Finland               2241nm      55nm
Jamaica Lightning Bolt  2254nm     69nm
Qingdao                       2294nm    108nm
Spirit of Australia         2334nm     148nm
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 2355nm 170nm
California                     2374nm     188nm
Cape Breton Island      2443nm     257nm

(*DTF = Distance To Finish, *DTL = Distance To Leader)

Full details of positions, updated every three hours can be found at www.clipperroundtheworld.com.


For more information:
www.clipperroundtheworld.com