Honkers head south west

As Clipper boats head for Japan

Monday February 24th 2003, Author: Loretta Spridgeon, Location: Transoceanic
The crews of the Clipper fleet, tackling the longest Round the World Yacht Race, also have news of the frustrations that ocean racing can bring. Since yesterday’s report it seems that some of the skippers and crews have been busy, not only with sailing but tactical decisions too.

Hong Kong Clipper remain the race leaders. Having continued their dive south west, they have come out on top and achieved what must have been their aim to cover the Northern flank of the fleet.

Glasgow and Liverpool, now sailing a similar course to Hong Kong, are chasing in Justin Taylor's wake. Reports back from Rupert Parkhouse and his crew are however not of the thrill of the chase. Suffering from very little wind and a very awkward sea swell at the moment, Rupert Parkhouse has reported that they are slopping around with their main sail and windseeker up. Not too desperate you think at first, but the wind they do have is seemingly all in the wrong direction...

As always, skipper and crew are high-spirited and have used this opportunity not only to get some maintenance and investigations of their gas supply systems underway but also do their laundry! So many clothes and sleeping bags airing on the decks and the guardrails that it is reported an extra .2 of a knot could be had if there was any wind. Keep your fingers crossed Rupert!

In the South, Jersey and Bristol are still working under the ‘West is Best’ philosophy. This certainly seems to be paying off for Bristol who had the day’s best run of 170.7nm. They too are suffering however from very changeable light winds and some very frustrating sailing. Both skippers have sent back ranting reports about the current state of play in the South.

With Jersey rightly reconfirming their tactical decisions with the fact that there is still a long way to go to Japan, and potentially two other weather systems to sail through, Jersey skipper Simon Rowell also sent a plea to his newly joined St Helier Yacht Club, "Please don’t start burning my membership card on the quay yet, we have a plan!"

Last but certainly not least, we have New York, Cape Town and London Clipper to consider. Their latest sched positions would certainly have had the rest of the fleet leafing through weather faxes and studying routing charts. A feeling of "something they know that I don’t" is sweeping over every nav station.

Skipper and crew of New York Clipper have reported "a subtle change of plan" and a total change in sailing. Now sailing on a course straight for Yokohama.

"We spent Friday and Saturday sailing with the spinnaker and then yesterday we saw another major wind shift (there is a terrible joke there about a famous soldier from WW2 "Major Wind Shift" - told you it was bad!!). Saturday brought more wind speed and direction changes with more 20+ gusts, so we decided to drop the spinnaker and hoist white sails (stay sail and headsail). That's pretty much where we are now, back to living at an angle of 35 degrees, heeled over and beating into the wind (more like the wind beating into us), with pretty much constant rain/squalls and heavy seas. The dress code has changed from shorts and T-shirts to full waterproofs!"

The fleet will certainly be watching the progress of these three who have bitten the bullet in a bid to gain the Northerly advantage - who knows what tomorrow will bring.

LATEST POSITIONS
03:00 GMT 24 February 2003

Pos Yacht Distance to Finish (nautical miles)
1 Hong Kong 1687.5
2 London 1693.1
3 Glasgow 1705.2
4 Liverpool 1712.5
5 Bristol 1720.7
6 Jersey 1808.6
7 Cape Town 1809
8 New York 1813.5

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