Westernaustralia retains lead in Clipper Round the world race. Further down the fleet Jersey is experiencing rig problems

As the Clipper fleet race towards the south-east on the third leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race from Salvador, Brazil to Durban, weather changes are becoming more apparent. It is becoming much colder which is certainly a change from the last leg when staying cool was about the hardest thing to achieve. Thin silk sleep sheets and t-shirts have been replaced by thick sleeping bags and thermals. The wind is not providing any favours either as the latest forecast continues to show either very light winds or strong headwinds.

Westernaustralia continues to lead, although as winds are worsening from ahead, the rest of the fleet are catching up fast. This wind has been no deterrent to Danny Watson and his crew on Qingdao who, after several days of stalking, have finally managed to overtake Richard Falk and the team on Uniquely Singapore.

Further down the fleet further problems have emerged with the rig on Jersey Clipper. Clipper Ventures Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston says: “Jersey Clipper is experiencing an unusual amount of stretch in her stays. This is leading to the mast moving at its head. The backstays have been tightened but the problem continues and at present no obvious reason for it has been discovered.

“Clearly the worry is that something within the rig is slipping as there appears to be no movement in the chain plates. Whilst the crew continue to try to discover the cause of the problem, they are considering diverting the boat to Cape Town where a full investigation can be made.”

Jersey Clipper Skipper Mark Taylor is in regular contact with members of the Race Team who have been passing on advice from the riggers in the UK and the rigging manufacturers in South Africa. He has also been speaking directly to the rigging manufacturer to ascertain the source of the unexplained movements in the rigging. In the meantime, Mark and his crew have reinforced the backstay as a safety precaution.

Due to the weather conditions, Taylor has not climbed the mast to investigate further, but with the wind set to subside over the coming days, he will be in a better position to carry out a more thorough investigation.

Two representatives from the rigging manufacturers flew out to Brazil to assess the rigging on the fleet of Clipper 68s after problems with the forestays on four of the yachts on the first Atlantic crossing from Cascais to Salvador.

Spare fittings flown in and after a full assessment the team from South Africa replaced the fittings on all the boats and passed them fit to set sail towards Durban.

Further investigations will be carried out when the fleet arrives in South Africa, where the rigging manufacturer is based and where representatives will be standing by to assess the fleet.

Current positionings

1. westernaustralia.com 1563 miles to finish

2. Qingdao 1588 miles to finish / 25 miles to the leader

3. Uniquely Singapore 1589 miles to finish / 26 miles to the leader

4. New York 1604 miles to finish / 41 miles to the leader

5. Liverpool 1623 miles to finish / 60 miles to the leader

6. Glasgow 1629 miles to finish / 66 miles to the leader

7. Victoria 1634 miles to finish / 71 miles to the leader

8. Durban 1642/ miles to finish / 79 miles to the leader

9. Jersey 1668 / miles to finish / 105 miles to the leader

10. Cardiff 1717 / miles to finish / 154 miles to the leader