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12 November 2005, 12:45 pm
Light Airs And Frustration
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Clipper Round The World Yacht Race 2005 - 2006

Yesterday the crews were probably quite grateful for a short lull in the weather, giving them a chance to sort out themselves and the boats. That was yesterday. Today they will just be frustrated. Liverpool’s 12 hour run of 20 miles works out at an average of just over one and a half knots an hour. You really could walk faster.
Even Cardiff's 'high' score of 66 miles equates to a mere five and a half knots. Not a lot when you have been used to averaging over 10 for most of this race.

But for Cardiff, 5.5 is enough. Previously virtually written off as their course took them further and further north, away from the direction they needed to sail in, Skipper Conor Fogerty and crew have proved that it is never too late to make a comeback. As the boats further to the west have stalled, Cardiff's northerly position has paid off. Taking advantage of slightly more breeze at a much more useful angle (somewhere in the region of 10 knots on the beam instead of 2 knots on the bow) they have roared back into contention, climbing back to 6th place and cementing Cardiff's reputation as the most unpredictable boat in the fleet.

Westernaustralia on the other hand seem to be building a reputation for consistency, and worryingly for the rest of the fleet that consistency is being in the lead. Perfectly positioned for the route around Cape Agulhas they will be a hard boat to beat for the rest of the race into Durban. Equally impressive has been Singapore's performance. Although they have slipped slightly over the past few days, their performance this race has been persistently good, and even they would admit that they are not physically the strongest boat. The conditions have been hard on them, with the temperature and sea state way outside most of their experience. As Richard commented a few days ago, 'they don't get 40kts (of wind) in Singapore and they certainly don't have seas to the 2nd spreaders. They all took it in their stride but there were some wide eyes at times.' To be in contention for a podium position is a worthy achievement.

New York's course has almost exactly matched Singapore's over the last few days, but they have just had the edge, and are now well positioned in second place. Skipper Jonathan Bailey reports that they are taking advantage of the conditions to do lots of cleaning, a far cry from a few days ago when watch leader Lizzie Nichols asked where all the pot holes were coming from! Qingdao too have performed well remaining in the top half for much of the race. With only 4 miles DTG separating them from third paced Singapore, and only 7 miles in real terms, they definitely remain one to watch.

Liverpool have not done so well this time round, and the current lack of wind is doing them no favours, but with a first and a second in the two races so far, we know they have it in them, and Skipper Tim Magee will no doubt be desperate for an opportunity to push back up the fleet, and after a series of onboard problems on previous races both Glasgow and Victoria will be keen to improve their positions over the remaining 900 miles. It is tempting at this stage in the race to start assuming that it is virtually all over and there is little chance of change between now and the finish. However 900 miles is still a long race and anything can still happen. As Durban Skipper Craig Millar approaches home waters I am sure that he will be fully aware of this, and will be relying on every ounce of local knowledge to boost his chances. In the tricky waters of the South African coast 900 miles will provide plenty of opportunities for the current positions to be turned on their heads, and in many ways we may still have the most exciting racing yet to come.

Mark Taylor and the crew on Jersey were happy to have the calmer weather when it meant less pressure on their rig. Now they could do with a little more pressure. Determined to sail all the way to Cape Town to remain part of the race, their current speed of 1.1 knots over the ground must be hugely frustrating and we can only wish them better speeds as they make their way towards Table Bay, 100 miles to the east.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF) image: © Event Media
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