Light winds and busy shipping lanes test the Clipper fleet in Day 3 of their voyage
Day Three: Having lead the fleet out of the Solent on race start day, Gold Coast Australia now find themselves in fourth place.
Skipper Rich Hewson, says, “Gold Coast Australia
has seen in the dawn of yet another day in the race making best use of
very fickle and variable wind. A strong current was pushing us away from
our destination but my decision not to drop the kedge anchor at this
point was made easy, not only because of the 150 metre water depth but
our course had us drifting straight through an old explosives dumping
“The tide finally turned but this brought with it new
problems, as now the ebbing tide started to take us straight towards a
Traffic Separation Scheme. We could do little but maintain our heading
at 90 degrees to the direction of traffic flow and work hard to ensure
we did not go into the scheme or obstruct any shipping which was
“Once clear of the shipping channel, we
started to pick our way back up the fleet. The lightweight spinnaker was
hoisted as soon as we realised a small pressure system was developing
close by, which resulted in light northerly winds. Gold Coast Australia
is now steaming out of the now despised tidal systems of the Channel
Islands, and towards Maderia, hot on the heels of the leading boats.”
Moving into the lead overnight were Visit Finland and US entry New York,
both of whom opted to keep the island of Alderney to starboard, a good
decision as this morning’s position reports have revealed.
bright and promising day with a promise of some thermal winds after
another night of light airs,” reports the Finnish entry’s skipper, Olly
Osborne. “Visit Finland was one of the four boats to head through the Alderney Race late last night and we are now head to head with New York in a spinnaker drag race toward Ushant.”
side of Alderney are two of the most notorious currents in the world,
The Alderney Race and the Swinge, so timing your passage is paramount.
Get it wrong and you can find yourself being pushed in the opposite
direction in up to 7 knots of tide.
Yesterday morning New York were behind Visit Finland and Welcome to Yorkshire, but have fought hard to close the gap as crew member John Finney, a company director in everyday life, reports:
“The wind duly arrived early yesterday morning and with Welcome to Yorkshire and Visit Finland
up ahead we set off in pursuit – it was great fun trying to squeeze the
last knot from the wind with all of us trying like mad to get past
Alderney before the tide changed. An extra bit of excitement came at 4pm
as we celebrated Yorkshire Day with a gift box from the Yorkshire
entry. The cheese and biscuits were a nice touch as we heard that the
English cricket team looked well on top to beat India and become the
number one cricket team in the world. And then it all went bad… the
wind dropped and the tide turned when we were just off Alderney leaving
us no choice but to anchor up in 46 metres of water.
“As the wind
returned we had the chore of raising the anchor at midnight, what a
slog pulling up the anchor was! Then we where off again, spinnaker up
and into first position with Visit Finland on our shoulder.”
As the team celebrated their special day, the crew on board Welcome to Yorkshire has had to deal with a mentally tough 24 hours according to skipper Rupert Dean.
being in the leading pack of three earlier in the day as we approached
Alderney Race, we now find ourselves among the back markers.
For some reason I ignored my instincts and followed Visit Finland
into the Alderney Race with the favourable tide. As a result, we ended
becalmed in the middle of the Race, level with southern Alderney, while
the rest of the fleet kept their apparent wind and flew over the top. As
the tide changed, it rapidly forced us north with it until a helpful
eddy off north-west Alderney allowed us to put the anchor down in
shelter – a better option than trying to hold the boat in 50 metres of
water in a 6 knot tide.
“Morale has taken a bit of a battering
since our fall from grace. However, the challenges we have faced over
the past 24 hours have bonded our team and the onus is now on to claw
back the miles lost.”
Joining Visit Finland, New York and Welcome to Yorkshire through the Alderney Race was Scottish entry Edinburgh Inspiring Capital.
Skipper Gordon Reid says, “Like the other teams, the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital
crew are finding the light winds and strong tides a real challenge.
After spending five hours with the kedge anchor down just south of
Alderney in 45 metres of water, the good ship Edinburgh is on the move
again, setting for a shy spinnaker and praying for the wind to pick up.
Crew moral is high and we are still busy tweaking and arranging. Every
cloud has a silver lining and at least we have time to continue to
optimise this race.”
Opting to keep Alderney to port and risk the
strong currents of the Swinge, Singapore, like many of the teams last
night, found themselves also having to drop anchor.
“The last 24
hours have seen us kedge in some pretty interesting places, the top of
the Swinge between Alderney and Burhou being particularly tricky,”
explains Singapore‘s skipper, Ben Bowley. “It required over 250 metres of warp in 20 metres of water to hold us against the 6 knot tide!
extra stress came once the tide turned and started to suck us through
the Swinge with barely enough wind to give us any steerage, pretty scary
in the pitch black.”
The Singaporean team are currently in a tussle with one of the two Australian entries in Clipper 11-12, Geraldton Western Australia, who have also spent the last 24 hours dropping and raising their anchor.
Juan Coetzer says, It has been an interesting 24 hours. We dropped the
anchor twice, just to stem the tide, last night dropping it in 65 metres
of water. The anchor chain and warps length was about 150 meters and it
was no mean feet to pick it back up manually.
“I have a
brilliant crew, they are enthusiastic and hard working and are willing
to do whatever it takes to keep the boat moving.”
Whilst many of
the teams dropped anchor off the coast of Alderney in order to hold
themselves against the turning tide, skipper of Derry-Londonderry joined the skipper of Gold Coast Australia‘s decision in keeping the anchor stowed on board.
were hoping to clear Alderney by the time the tide turned but Mother
Nature intervened and the wind went to find others. We have been
becalmed for much of the night and being in a disused explosive dumping
ground and 80 metres of water, found that anchoring would not be
clever. This race started with a bang and none of us wanted another
Meanwhile, after their decision to take a more northerly course to the rest of the fleet, Qingdao has found themselves moving from first place to last in the space of 12 hours, but morale is high on board.
good day and night on the purple dragon!” exclaims skipper Ian Conchie.
“We have continued to head west and managed to keep some reasonable
boat speed all day. The boat is looking good with everything now getting
stowed in the right place and the crew settling into the watches.
“This morning finds us again fighting the wind gods so we have dropped the anchor again to await the return of the wind.”
Track the Clipper boat’s progress on the site’s Race Viewer. Alternatively, follow their progress and show your support on the Clipper 11/12 Facebook and Twitter pages. Follow the crew as they keep online diaries of their experience here.