Clipper race blown off track

Daily Echo: Action from the Clipper Race Action from the Clipper Race

LIGHT, unpredictable winds have been playing havoc with the Clipper Race’s Hampshire contingent as they battle for a podium place in the latest leg.

Cowes’ Olly Cotterell had been in pole position with his OneDLL crew on the sprint from Western to Eastern Australia but had last night slipped to second.

Gosport’s Gareth Glover was nipping at Cotterell’s heels in third place with his Qingdao crew while Titchfield’s Pete Stirling was in sixth with Jamaica Get All Right.

But with just over 300 miles to go to the finish line, the weather was adding its own problems.

Cotterell said: “The conditions around the south of Tasmania have been challenging with swell from all directions, 180 degree wind shifts and massively gusty conditions.

“It seems that the front runners are at a bit of a disadvantage as these challenging conditions are slowing our progress drastically. “Some of our tacking angles have been horrendous as we fight fluky conditions and an unfavourable current.”

Glover added: “After light and variable winds round the south of Tasmania we lost miles to the most of the fleet that approached us from the west as we hit the virtual waypoint. “After a lot of sail changes a very large front passed over us and the wind built to a nice 20 knots from the west and we could then start to reach up the coast.

“Just a few hours ago we sailed in to very light and variable wind which has slowed us down again and after a few sail changes the wind is now back to 25 knots from the forecast north west.

“We have had most if not all the Qingdao crew working on sail changes or wooling the spinnakers. “We have also had two spinnakers up for a few hours to try and keep us moving and not fall back from the lead boats for the last 500 miles – which may take us a few days. “Time will tell in the next position reports how much we have lost to the variable winds and loss of sail changes, which sometimes took us in the wrong direction. “But we have had the coast of Tasmania to look at and keep us occupied until we head offshore.”

Meanwhile, Stirling said his crew had opted to stay close to land to try to claw back places.

“We have chosen to stay in shallow water, within a few miles of the coast of Tasmania, rather than going offshore and this has played a large part in the varying wind conditions we have encountered,” he said.

“Tasmania has a stunningly beautiful coastline with some quite high mountains, deep valleys and fjord like bays. “As a result we have gone from not having enough wind in the wind shadow of the mountains to getting blasted as we sail in front of the valleys. “It is easy to see the wind building and dropping during the day with the various cloud formations, but not so easy at night!”

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