Clipper fleet departs Cape Town

For final leg back up the Atlantic

Monday June 30th 2003, Author: Loretta Spridgeon, Location: Transoceanic
It is another stunningly beautiful day in Cape Town, but there is a difference today in that the Clipper fleet has left port and is now 120 miles to the NNW.

The frail breeze at the proposed start of Race 13 from South Africa to Brazil died away, as Simon Rowell in Jersey Clipper led the eight Clipper yachts to the sea to find some wind.

As dawn broke a gentle breeze of 6 - 10 knots filled in from the NNE and the race started at 05:19 GMT today. As the boats settled down some hoisted their lightweight spinnakers, whilst others decided on a more northerly course under Number 1 Yankee and staysails.

This has been an extraordinary period of weather and we have been blessed with sunshine that would do an English summer proud. It is easy not to appreciate that mid winter in the Cape can produce severe weather and strong winds when the fronts come through.

Looking back at previous races, in June 1997 the start was in light conditions but all the boats bar one managed to get a breath of wind to take them out. Serica (now Bristol Clipper) under the command of Bluey Neale, was 50 yards closer inshore than the others at the start and failed to get this wind. The crew had to suffer the frustrations of seeing the other 7 boats sail away and well over the horizon.

It was a good 12 hours later that Serica crossed the starting line and began the chase. Rather than follow the others in what seemed a hopeless cause they were tempted to try something different and cut the corner of the South Atlantic High. This was not their race and the gamble did not work, resulting in their final retirement and arrival into Brazil some days after their rivals.

For now though, we must await the fleet dramas as this race unfolds!!

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