The Clipper fleet of eight identical racing yachts are gearing up for the eleventh race of the Clipper 2002 Round the World Series from Batam to Mauritius.
After an immensely successful stopover in the Indonesian paradise of Palau Batam, the international fleet will set sail this weekend, to start their journey southwards on the 500-mile passage to Selat Suda before the next stage of Clipper 2002 gets underway.
The yachts' departure from Batam was scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday 8 May 2003, although a later start this weekend will allow repairs to be made to Hong Kong Clipper's generator, which has suffered mechanical failure.
The route from Batam takes the fleet over extensive areas of shoal water with a high concentration of fishing nets, traps and structures so extra vigilance will be required amongst the Clipper skippers and crews.
Race 11 of the eleven-month circumnavigation will then start to the west of Selat Suda at 00:00 GMT (07:00 Indonesian time) on Monday, 12 May. Following the 3,000 mile crossing of the Indian Ocean, the fleet is expected to arrive in the independent island republic of Mauritius, east of Madagascar, on Thursday, 28 May 2003.
Race 10 from Hong Kong to Batam saw Richard Butler and his crew on Bristol Clipper narrow the gap on the overall race leaders aboard Jersey Clipper, skippered by Simon Rowell, who now hold a six-point margin. Just three points then separate Hong Kong Clipper in third place, Liverpool in fourth and Glasgow in fifth, with this chasing pack eager to catch the two frontrunners.
Skippers Rory Gillard and Ross Daniel have now settled into London and New York Clippers respectively and will be looking to impress on this next race; whilst Cape Town Clipper led by Roger Steven-Jennings are probably the most keen of all the yachts to secure an elusive podium finish.
With many crew families and supporters planning to visit Mauritius for the conclusion of the race's fourth leg, a rapturous welcome is guaranteed for the fleet's next stopover. The yachts will berth in Port Louis, the country 's largest port and a commercial hub of Mauritius.
The crews will enjoy an idyllic ten-day stopover in the 10 million year old volcanic island of Mauritius, sure to fulfil every visitor's dream of a tropical island, from swaying palms to balmy nights and the dazzling blue of the ocean.