With squalls hitting the Clipper fleet, the spinnakers are going up and down

Leg 4b – Singapore – Seychelles

Positions 0500 GMT 29/04/99

  • Race Start: 0530 GMT 23/04/99
  • Race Distance: 2920 Nautical Miles

    Position – Yacht – Skipper – Distance to Finish (NM)

    1. Mermerus – Barney Sollars – 1871
    2. Ariel – Alex Thomson – 1877
    3. Serica – Rupert Dean – 1879
    4. Antiope – Keith Harris – 1887
    5. Thermopylae – Malcolm Tod – 1896
    6. Chrysolite – Tim Hedges – 1899
    7. Taeping – Nick Fleming – 1928

    The wind has now moved slightly to the South East and the squalls are on the up again. Gusting between Force 4 and 5, Malcolm Tod, skipper of Thermopylae, currently duty yacht, reported that “the conditions mean spinnakers are going up and down like yo-yo’s”.

    As always there are winners and losers in such conditions. Timing the squalls, so that the kite is taken down at the optimum moment and put back up again likewise can make a large difference. Take it down too early and lose a vital bit of speed. Leave it up too long and the wind will take it down! Whilst always best to err on the side of caution, as five or ten minutes at a slower speed is clearly a lot faster overall than a day without the kite, having the sixth sense to get the gamble right is the racer’s dream.

    Of course a lot of luck comes into it and many get it right sometimes and wrong sometimes. It looks like Barney Sollars and his crew on Mermerus got it right over the last 24 hours. They have pulled away from both Ariel and Serica to the tune of five miles. Notching up the second highest run of the day at 210 miles (199 miles to the finish) it was Taeping who hit the top spot. Nick Fleming and his crew achieved 207 miles (214 towards the finish).

    Elsewhere in the pack, Thermopylae has once again traded places with Chrysolite pulling back to three miles ahead. Other than that the line-up remains the same.

    With only 57 miles now separating first and seventh positions this leg is shaping up to be another classically close Clipper race.