Following the surprise of Race 10 finishing at the first gate, which of course was wonderful news for Justin Taylor and the crew of Hong Kong Clipper who clinched their third race win, the Clipper fleet are making their way two-by-two towards Pulau Batam.
Instead of eking every last knot of boat speed out of the Clippers, the latest task for the skippers is to monitor their fuel consumption carefully as they continue to motor toward their final destination.
One of the best ways of doing this is to take it in turns to tow each other, as this saves almost 40% of the fuel consumption. So onwards they go, playing 'follow my lead' rather than 'catch me if you can' through the calm waters that surround them.
Race 10's result was a great victory for Hong Kong Clipper as they will receive the Silver Junk Trophy, presented by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. It also puts them up two places in the overall standings as they replace Liverpool in third place.
Glasgow Clipper had another great race and their second place has moved them up above London into fifth place. Only 5 points now separate Hong Kong in third with London in sixth place, whilst at the top of the table both Jersey and Bristol are still showing great consistency and maintaining a healthy cushion. They can certainly still be caught though.
The one aspect of the race from Hong Kong to Batam, probably more significant that the final places, was just how close the racing was. After 10 days and just over a thousand miles, the first four boats finished within an hour of each other. In the conditions this represented four miles. A mere 7 minutes then separated New York, Liverpool and Cape Town in a demonstration of tremendous racing and great sportsmanship from the competitors.
The boats then went to Kota Kinablalu after finishing and topped up with fuel and some extra jerry cans of fuel to transit down the coast towards the Riau Islands just to the south of Singapore. With conditions so very calm, the boats have split into pairs and are towing each other to save fuel.
Competitiveness has therefore taken on new meaning in the fleet and this morning it appears that instead of the fleet jostling for position, the aim is to see who can invent the most ingenious form of wind funnel and sun shade.
The most inventive so far are Jersey Clipper who apparently have their Storm Staysail rigged over the cockpit somehow, and their Yankee 3 attached to their baby stay which is shooting wind down the central hatch.
Hong Kong Clipper, whilst basking in the glory of another first position are busy trying not to bask in the baking sun and have also rigged up many wind funnels and umbrellas to create shade. Always wanting to be different, Glasgow Clipper are accommodating those who want some R&R in the sun by rigging a hammock on the foredeck!
The fleet fishermen are also hard at work. Motoring provides a near perfect speed to attract a big bite and some have been successful already. Heavy negotiations went on last night as Cape Town Clipper managed to catch a rather large Barracuda… Liverpool Clipper's shrewd negotiators on board managed to close the deal with the swapping of two lemons, a bargain we think. It seems the crew have fitted into the non-racing side of life very well!
It is not all relaxing, fishing and evening swims however. The aim for the fleet now is not only to get to Batam Island on time, but also to have made a decent dent in the ever-present jobs lists on board, so that they have more time to enjoy either the tranquillity of Batam Island or the city life of Singapore.
This time at sea is providing the crews with the perfect opportunity to catch up on all those little jobs that were forgotten in Hong Kong. Topsides are being polished to within an inch of their lives and down below diarists are busy typing, whilst the victuallers have a chance to rope in some helping hands to make a full inventory of the stores on board. All this and no distractions from cold drinks, hotels or swimming pools - a skipper's heaven!
With less than 500 nautical miles left to go, it is expected that the Clipper fleet will arrive in the early hours of Friday, 2nd May. Nongsa Point Marina and Tuli Beach Resort are busily preparing for their surprise guests and it is all shaping up to be another fabulous Clipper Stopover to remember.