Slender lead for Jersey
On the first Clipper race in 1996, Hong Kong Clipper (then called Thermopylae, skippered by Mervyn Wheatly) went north and at one point was over 900 miles behind the rest of the fleet. They had such a blistering run from then on however that they crossed the finish in fifth place.
Justin Taylor and his crew will want to do better than that but are certainly following the same logic. But for today they have blown it. Their lightweight spinnaker that is! The sail repair team are busy below decks trying to put it back together. The good news is that skipper Justin thinks they are now through the doldrums, so it will be interesting to see if they maintain their northerly course.
Jersey Clipper is managing to maintain their lead and reports 18 knots of wind from the south east, so all is good so far. They have had the highest day's run but still have a long way to go and will be feeling the pressure. As the fleet pathfinder they have to make their own decisions, whereas the boats behind can at least get some advance warning of conditions ahead. If Jersey runs out of wind, then the boats behind will know not to go through the same patch of water.
Interestingly, despite their high runs, both London and Bristol experienced heavy clouds and light winds for an hour or so yesterday, Bristol Clipper even having to hoist their wind seeker.
Skipper Richard Butler explains, "About 09:00 local (16:00 UTC radio sched time), we found a rain cloud to get caught under. The wind went all light and fluffy and we had to drop the spinnaker, go for the windseeker for a while and then get the lightweight spinnaker up. The only consolation was seeing London on the radar doing as badly as we were. After perhaps an hour, we were well on our way again. With London a mile or two away on our starboard bow. We've now sailed several hundred miles, keeping London within a few miles of us."
Cape Town Clipper are still fixing their medium weight "AP" spinnaker, but are currently doing quite well without it having pulled up into 5th place.
Although Clipper crews carry out all aspects of sailing the boats equally, some jobs have their specialists. Before the start of the race in Liverpool, 2 crew from each boat spent a day getting to grips with the boat sewing machines and practicing sail repair under the expert guidance of Nick McDonald and Osen Sails' Raz Turner, winning skipper of the 96 Race. Those crew then become the boat "sailmakers" with the rest of the crew assisting on major jobs. One crewmember per boat also does an engine maintenance course and becomes the boat "engineer". On Cape Town Clipper the AP repair has been going on so long that the job specs are blurring and the engineer is now repairing the sail. Whilst pot riveting it back together may work, there is apparently some concern on board that if it goes over the side again it may sink!
04:00, 16 January 2003
Pos Yacht Distance to Finish
1 Jersey 3020.33 (nautical miles)
2 London 3043.57
3 Bristol 3052.19
4 Liverpool 3064.58
5 Cape Town 3074.44
6 Glasgow 3079.49
7 New York 3089.73
8 Hong Kong 3268.16