CLIPPER 11-12 RACE 7: GOLD COAST TO SINGAPORE DAY 26

CLR1112md M4153a-Singapore

Fleet still in stealth mode and avoiding pirates

CLIPPER 11-12
RACE 7: GOLD COAST TO SINGAPORE
DAY 26

* Teams begin refuelling
* Crews take advantage of suspension in racing to add to sailing
knowledge
* Computer breakdown for Singapore

The ten strong fleet of ocean racing yachts participating in the Clipper
11-12 Round the World Yacht Race continue to ‘cruise’ along the Celebes
Sea in Stealth Mode between the first and second phase of Race 7 to
Singapore.

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After a decision made by the Race Committee yesterday to extend this
phase of the race to allow for refuelling, the first convoy of boats has
reached the refuelling destination in Malaysia and is making progress
towards the restart gate to resume racing tomorrow.

As the first to refuel, Derry-Londonderry is keen to get back on the
water and continue their journey and skipper Mark Light reports, “While
refuelling all crew were confined to the boat and there were people
lying beside swimming pools, drinking cold beer not more than 40 yards
from us. Bikini clad women, sizzling steaks and bars! I now have five
crew AWOL, three lashed and gagged in the lazarette, six disgruntled on
the verge of mutiny and one foaming at the mouth. But apart from that
it’s all good!” he jokes.

As the Northern Irish entry make their way to the rendezvous waypoint
and await further instructions and the rest of their convoy en route
towards the restart gate, thoughts turn to the light and fluffy weather
conditions.

“The conditions are very similar to the last few days – very hot with
little cloud cover and only a slight sea breeze from the north. We are
currently sailing with our staysail up making approximately two knots
Speed Over Ground waiting politely for Gold Coast Australia to finish
their refuel and catch up. It is quite amusing that we are waiting for
Gold Coast Australia to catch us up!”

On board the Australian boat skipper Richard Hewson reports that the
lack of wind has made conditions on board “extremely hot” and the team
is grateful for its water maker as the crew consume large volumes to
maintain hydration.

Richard continues, “The distinct lack of wind emphasises the good
decision made by the Race Committee to postpone racing until the fleet
has replenished its diesel supplies and there is adequate wind to make
the race competitive, fair and safe. These waters contain many hazards
such as reefs, fishing vessels, pirates, large merchant ships, oil rigs,
flotsam and jetsam. Trying to sail in these waters without wind could
prove not only frustrating but very hazardous.”

As they continue along the coast of Malaysia towards the restart gate,
Richard adds that the team has been sailing close to the land and
islands and has been able to look at the beautiful scenery and Malaysian
way of life.

“Last night the horizon was littered with fishing boats with bright
lights catching squid, which is a sign of things to come as there will
be more of these boats as we travel north to China on the next leg.

Over the last 24 hours, travelling companions Qingdao have been making
their way towards the refuelling point using a mixture of motor and
sails and the team is expected to arrive tomorrow morning.

In the meantime skipper Ian Conchie reports that the team has been able
to work on a list of maintenance jobs on the boat and the preparations
continue.

“We have even lent our sewing machine to Geraldton Western Australia to
allow them to continue repairing one of their kites. This involved
meeting up with them so we could transfer the machine carefully to them.
All in the spirit of the Clipper Race so as all the boats are in full
racing trim,” he says.

A vote of thanks comes from the WA team, led by Juan Coetzer who
explains, “The idea of the boat to boat transfer to borrow the sewing
machine was to allow us to repair our medium weight kite and have less
to do in Batam. Thanks Qingdao!

“The happy trio are safely out of the Sulu sea, heading south towards
next way point,” adds Juan.

The third member of the trio travelling together is Singapore. The team
is experiencing some problems with their communications computer on
board. Salt water and technology are uneasy bed fellows and the very
humid conditions in this part of the world can play havoc with delicate
connections and the PC they use to write home and send diaries, photos
and videos for the website is distinctly under the weather.

Skipper Ben Bowley is able to contact the race management team via the
back-up Sat C system and all are well on board but friends and family
expecting to receive emails and team followers addicted to the diaries
and photos from the team may have to wait until the team arrives in
Batam early next week.

De Lage Landen, whose skipper Stuart Jackson reports his team hopes for
a little wind to sail as they make their way towards the refuelling
point, is expected there tomorrow.

“Last night saw us transit through some of the Philippine Islands with a
fair amount of commercial traffic, which made for an interesting evening
listening to all the chats on VHF,” he says.

“Everyone is starting to enjoy some down time after the frenetic
activity of maintenance over the last couple of days. We are looking at
doing a DVD trade with New York later when we stop our engines for
around an hour. Also a good time to have a swim to cool off and keep us
all smelling fresh!”

Now traveling in the company of Visit Finland and Welcome to Yorkshire,
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital skipper Gordon Reid reports that the three
teams have kept in constant radio contact with one another and are
taking full advantage of today’s wet conditions for their own personal
hygiene programmes.

“Today is a total contrast to yesterday weather wise. Since the thunder
and lightning storms of the wee small hours, it has been raining
non-stop, sometimes heavy but mostly light drizzle. A welcome
alternative to the blazing hot sunshine and an excellent opportunity for
a much needed deck shower. The key is to get the shower gel on and
yourself washed and rinsed during a heavier downpour to avoid being left
covered in soapy bubbles!”

With little wind forecast over the next few days, the Scottish entry is
making haste towards the refuelling stop, and as the re-start gate comes
ever closer, thoughts turn to the race ahead.

“We are eagerly awaiting news of where and when the race will restart.
Whilst we are enjoying the cruise phase and making good use of the time
by organising and maintaining the boat, we are here to race and eagerly
anticipate the re-start,” adds Gordon.

Gareth Glover reports that on board New York, progress has been made
getting the boat ready to sail and thoughts are also turning to the
second phase of the race and what awaits them in Singapore.

“After a great few days on board, everyone is looking forward to getting
racing again and the next stopover. The crew have been working as always
at getting her ready to race and all the little jobs that were at the
bottom of the list are being done.”

With all maintenance jobs in order Gareth and his team are able to fully
enjoy the scenery surrounding them, while for others it has been a
valuable opportunity to expand their sailing knowledge.

“We have had some of the best sunrises and sunsets of the trip so far
and some of the crew are working on getting their Yachtmaster Ocean
qualification have been getting out the sextant and the sight reduction
tables with lots of head scratching at the same time,” explains the New
York skipper.

Meanwhile on Welcome to Yorkshire, where the crew continue to work their
way through their maintenance list, they’re combining efforts with their
racing opponents to avoid the debris in the water as they make good
speed towards the fuel pit stop.

Skipper Rupert Dean reports that in addition to this team exercise,
Welcome to Yorkshire’s crew have also been getting to know their fellow
competition a little better.

“Dusk yesterday proved to be a highly enjoyable occasion for all the
crews of Welcome to Yorkshire, Edinburgh Inspiring Capital and Visit
Finland. At 1600 while we were resting the engine we rafted up either
side of Edinburgh Inspiring Capital for a fuel transfer and crew party.
After so long away from them it was great to catch up with our fellow
racers and friends, sharing banter and stories. Edinburgh Inspiring
Capital became the ‘music’ boat, whilst we supplied the catering and
Visit Finland became a platform for activities, chief of which was
shimmying up to the spinnaker pole before diving into the crystal clear
warm waters of the Celebes Sea.”

In between the stops for engine checks and a little fun with the
neighbours, Olly Osborne and his team on Visit Finland are all business.

“The weather is changeable although we are not experiencing the squalls
of the South Pacific. We have erected a fairly effective cover over the
boom which allows us to carry out maintenance as we make our way towards
the South China Sea. We are hoping to strike most of the jobs off the
list, and get ourselves sailing when the weather permits.”

The first teams are due to arrive at Nongsa Point Marina in Batam early
next week and will muster there ahead of a spectacular, colourful
welcome ceremony at Marina at Keppel Bay in Singapore on Saturday 28
January.

ENDS
Gate crossing times. All times are UTC

1 Gold Coast Australia 2154.59 13 January 2012
2 Derry-Londonderry 2314.00 13 January 2012
3 Geraldton Western Australia 0229.40 14 January 2012
4 Qingdao 0313.25 14 January 2012
5 Singapore 0325.31 14 January 2012
6 De Lage Landen 0936.29 14 January 2012
7 New York 1224.02 14 January 2012
8 Visit Finland 2022.00 14 January 2012
9 Welcome to Yorkshire 0322.20 15 January 2012
10 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 1551.06 16 January 2012

*DTF: Distance to Finish

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