LAT 34 50.6N
LONG 122 58.8E
ETA 04 April 2012
WEATHER WIND 250@18kts, Sea Moderate, Swell SE 2m, Cloud fog + O/C Baro 1009.9
At 1135 Local (0235Z) Race 9 of the Clipper RTW Yacht Race started in the middle of the Yellow Sea. The decision to move the start away from the light winds and foggy conditions of Qingdao harbour was well deserved. The fleet was able to start the race mid sea by doing a start whereby the yachts line up and follow a
particular course. Whilst not as challenging or fun as a normal start line it is the fairest option in such conditions.
During the lead up to the start Gold Coast realised that our topping-lift had snapped overnight and disappeared inside the mast. After numerous trips up the
rig to determine if it could be fixed or re run inside the rig I decided the best option would be to run an external halyard from a spare sheave at the top of the
mast. Whilst this is not ideal, it will serve the purpose until San Francisco as there is a good chance that during the race we will receive some extreme weather and without a topping lift reefing the mainsail would be very difficult.
Due to setting the best course possible for me while I was up the rig Gold Coast
was separated from the rest of the fleet and whist we did our best to make up time and be with the other boats at the start we ended up being about 10 boat lengths
behind the rest of the fleet at the gun. There is still 5600nm to go in the race so 10 boat lengths is quite insignificant and already we have caught up to the majority of the fleet and racing hard to get into the lead before we round the south western edge of Japan and begin making our way across the North Pacific Ocean.
The sailing instructions have dictated a northerly limit of 42 degrees north as a safety precaution. Whilst this restriction can severely interfere with the best
routing possible, it is quite common for Trans-Pacific and southern ocean races to prevent the fleet from getting into difficulty in the higher latitudes that are
often plagued with strong winds and big waves. Last year in the Clipper RTW race
one yacht was dis-masted and three others knocked down in such conditions so it is understandable that the race committee has made such an decision.
Due to the distance of this race and the conditions we may face this race is more
about preservation and endurance than boat-speed. You need to finish the race to win it so we will be focusing on safety while still keeping the best course and speed towards the finish line that we can safely maintain.
For now we will continue to sail our fastest course towards the waypoint and as
the wind veers to further to the west we will hoist the spinnaker for extra speed. Go Gold Coast, lets get back to Yellow Pennants!!