What an interesting start for the Clipper 2002 race fleet setting sail from Salvador! Light, fluky winds and a strong tidal stream have favoured some teams and penalised others, whilst also providing a surprise for the Race Office Team.
Some time after the boats had crossed the Race 14 start line, the Clipper shore team were tidying the race office and clearing up the usual loose ends when someone asked why the yachts were coming back. Sure enough several teams were actually drifting backwards, giving the impression that they were returning to their berths. Even the boats that had tried to creep inshore to escape the worst of the current had lost the wind and found themselves in the glue.
An awkward start like this can sometimes give a huge boost to the boats that do manage to escape; yet 12 hours later the fleet remain in a tight group as they sail up the Brazilian coast. Duty skipper this week is Rupert Parkhouse on Glasgow Clipper, whose report this morning nicely sums up events after the start:
"Well what fun... currently writing this at 18:50 local time and it's very dark. Quite an interesting start really as I am sure you could see from the boats' movements after the gun. The fireworks were great, if a bit distracting for the crew who stopped trimming to stare at the pretty display. We found ourselves 3rd over the line; OK really, even though everyone was late. The line was very hard to time because of the fluky/gusty winds. After this we went out into the bay a bit, only to find that in the shifty conditions and 1-2 knots of foul tide progress was impossible."
At this point London Clipper had fared well initially from a nice lift and racing up close inshore, before then slowing. Jersey, Hong Kong and Glasgow Clipper meanwhile were further out, with Bristol Clipper further out still. Liverpool and New York took the middle ground.
Rupert continued: "Anyway, we decided to tack inshore to the eastern edge of the bay to try and get out the tide. At the same time Cape Town, New York and Liverpool were doing the same thing. As we headed over I looked at my watch and noted that one and a half hours after the start, we had progressed around one mile from the line overall... So then the 4 of us short tacked up the shore, with London still a bit further ahead.
"Hong Kong, Jersey and Bristol stayed out in the bay at this time. We made it to the corner in around 4-5 tacks and got around the corner again in 3rd, with Liverpool and London in front and Cape Town & New York behind the other 3 were still way back. Wind got kinder around the corner and we were soon reaching along the shore past the town beaches - thinking we had left the others behind a bit...
"Then a rain cloud/squall came over, wind headed us and then died. We spent the next 2 hours holed up alongside Liverpool and London, off the Punta Itapua. During this time Bristol, Jersey and HK caught up the 3-4 miles that they were behind. We bobbed about for a while then the wind filled in from offshore, picking up Cape Town first, then New York, then someone else (not sure who) and then us, before the inshore boats at that time. Currently all boats are very similarly positioned in a little pack, reaching with whites and slowly working our way out a bit."
Rupert concludes today's report with a comment that no doubt echoes the thoughts on all the boats, "Had a great time in Salvador - say thanks to all the team at CENAB from Glasgow, a great start and all in all an excellent stopover."
The crew on Cape Town Clipper also deserve a special mention today, as they hold their own at the front of the fleet - go Roger!
Clipper 2002 - Race 14 Positions
||Distance to Finish (nautical miles)