Clipper Round the World Race: Jamaica and Qingdao yachts cross Equator

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Eight of the Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race fleet crossed the finish line and arrived at their muster-point in Batam, Indonesia yesterday.

The final two of the ten internationally-backed yachts are still racing and are making good progress towards the finish line, 20 miles off the coast of Singapore. Jamaica and Qingdao both took a more westerly course than the rest of the fleet and fell behind, ground they were unable to make up.

The best estimate for their arrival is tomorrow morning (Thursday) local time, shortly after midnight GMT and both are expected in Nongsa Point Marina by lunchtime.

Qingdao has further to cover than Jamaica and Marcus Cholerton-Brown, skipper of the Chinese boat, reports that they are having to work hard.

"Going well but still losing out on the tacking battle," he reported to the Race Office this morning. "We have more wind than predicted, and from a more favourable direction, so we should be finishing within the next 36 hours. We can almost taste the cold beer, all the more deserved after a long sail."

Thoughts of those on Jamaica are along similar lines according to skipper Simon Bradley's email. "Here we are enjoying our own private race with our friends on Qingdao while the rest of the fleet are enjoying cold beers, fresh food, showers and other delights of the modern world. We are still enjoying tinned food, baby wipes, warm drinks, no showers and little sleep.

We're also out at sea enjoying nature and away from ringing phones, the Internet and depressing news on the television. Who's getting the best deal?

I think we know... Now where's my cold beer?"

Both yachts will cross the Equator again today which will bring an end to the southern hemisphere racing for Clipper 07-08. The rest of the route, via Qingdao in China, Hawaii, Santa Cruz in California, Panama, Jamaica, New York, Nova Scotia in Canada, Cork in Ireland and back home to Liverpool, will take them through northern hemisphere waters.

On Jamaica and on Qingdao the crews are preparing to face King Neptune's court - last called into session during the transatlantic Race 2 from La Rochelle to Salvador da Bahia.

Marcus says, "The pollywogs (first time crossing the Equator) amongst us are getting nervous about the impending crossing. The shellbacks (already crossed) are salivating with glee at the prospect of helping Neptune exercise his court. Wonder if he will turn up?"

"There is also the very strong chance that King Neptune's Rasta representative will be paying a visit this afternoon as we cross the Equator again," says Simon. "Now, his visits are always very entertaining for some of the crew, not all, but certainly some!"

In Nongsa Point Marina, where they received a traditional Indonesian welcome, complete with floral garlands, dancers and kompeng drummers, the crews are hard at work deep cleaning the boats and carrying out the routine maintenance and minor repairs necessary after the race from Fremantle.

Although they are taking some well-earned time out to make use of the pool and other facilities at the neighbouring Turi Beach Resort, they are hoping to get most of the hard work done here to allow them plenty of time to explore Singapore, a colourful and vibrant city, brimming with state of the art modernity and a rich, east-west blend of culture, tradition and architecture.

The yachts will slip from Nongsa Point Marina early on Saturday morning to cross the Singapore Straits and its busy international shipping lanes.

Durban 2010 and Beyond skipper Ricky Chalmers likens the stretch of water to a motorway and all the crews will have to be on high alert for the hundreds of cargo ships and cruise liners that plough up and down it each day.

The Clipper fleet will arrive in formation as part of the opening ceremony for the new Marina at Keppel Bay, owned by Uniquely Singapore sponsors, Keppel Corporation.


1. New York:                             Finished 1412.20 GMT 14 January
2. Liverpool 08:                         Finished 1822.48 GMT 14 January
3.     Finished 1917 GMT 14 January
4. Hull & Humber:                       Finished 2215.35 GMT 14 January
5. Durban 2010 and Beyond:      Finished 2332.22 GMT 14 January
6. Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper:   Finished 2334.26 GMT 14January
7. Uniquely Singapore:  Finished 0448.45 GMT 15 January
8. Nova Scotia:   Finished 0818.44 GMT 15 January
9. Jamaica: Distance to Finish (DTF) 93
10. Qingdao:  DTF: 113

Heather Ewing

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 January 2008 )