Clipper 09-10 Race 3: Rio de Janeiro - Cape Town Day 16

12-Nov-2009
* Team Finland emerges from Stealth Mode ahead of Uniquely Singapore and Hull & Humber
* Cork enters Stealth Mode and clocks an exceptional 12-hour run
* California continues under secondary steering

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

(*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