When the Clipper crews reported it was very hot last week, they were under calling the situation. They will be looking back at those temperatures with a fond memory as now it really IS HOT.
To make matters worse, there is precious little wind so the eight yachts are drifting around at very slow speed while they gently cook. Richard Butler, the Duty Skipper in Bristol Clipper, reported that at 09:00 local time the water temperature was at 33.6'C and the cabin temperature was over 36'C. Wind speed was 2 knots from the north. Not far away Jersey Clipper reported that their wind speed was Force 1 with the occasional gust of Force 2.
After 600 miles of this race, five of the boats are still within three miles of each other on a "Distance To Go" basis. Their current aiming mark is the waypoint at the top of the Palawan Passage some 100 miles further on. There they will turn to the southwest and pass down the Brunei coast past Sabah, Brunei and Sarawak (Malaysia). With over 1,100 miles to go this is going to be a long haul, especially when some of the recent 12 hour runs were a little as 25 miles.
The disposition of the fleet is interesting and we now see that London and New York have decided to back opposite wings. The various positions move as the faintest puffs of wind come through. It is worth remembering that the crew who concentrate and get their boat going at 0.75 knots when others are at 0.5 knots are going 50% faster - those are gains worth concentrating on.
And some good news just in from Hong Kong - Anna Wardley, the round the world Hong Kong Clipper crew member who has been recovering from bronchitis, has been given the all clear by her Doctor and will be flying on to join the fleet in Singapore.
After a high degree of international press interest in Anna's plight, the local radio station in Hong Kong followed up the story by asking the Adventist Hospital why Anna was not sent to one of the public hospitals treating SARS. The reply summed it up much better than anyone else could have done, "because she has bronchitis!"
Meanwhile, back at sea Richard Butler is complaining at the lack of isobars on his weather chart. His observations are correct, but it is no grounds for complaint as the weather has different rules here. With luck they will encounter a band of 'weather' and then have to hang on to the coat tails of the random clouds. The landfall in Singapore will come, and when it does, it will be one of the very sweetest of landfalls of all.
Clipper 2002 Race 9 Positions
03:00 UTC on 22 April 2003
||Distance to Finish (nautical miles)