Last updateThu, 01 Aug 2013 4pm

Back You are here: Home News Yacht Racing News CLIPPER 11-12 RACE 1: SOUTHAMPTON TO MADEIRA DAY 7


* Geraldton Western Australia diverts to medevac injured crew member
* Gold Coast Australia steals the lead from Visit Finland
* Edinburgh Inspiring Capital makes great gains
Photo Credit: onEdition

Geraldton Western Australia has diverted to Vigo in northern Spain to medevac an injured crew member.

British crew member, Russell Sandbach, 49, dislocated his knee and has a suspected fracture to his right leg after being thrown against the pulpit by a wave while he was working on the foredeck last night.

Skipper, Juan Coetzer, told the Race Office that it happened at 2100 in heavy weather while Russell, a CEO from Northumberland, UK, was helping to drop the Yankee 2 headsail.

Fellow round the world crew member, Jane Hitchins, 50, is a doctor and has been treating Russell, along with advice from the MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) in Falmouth. Russell's family has been informed and, having been met by an ambulance when the yacht arrived in Marina Davila Sport, he is now receiving hospital treatment for his injuries at the Hospital General de Vigo.

Everyone else on board is safe and well and Geraldton Western Australia is now heading back out into the Atlantic to continue the race to Madeira.

Back out on the race course Edinburgh Inspiring Capital has clawed back more than 50 miles on the leaders in the last 24 hours. The team representing the Scottish capital has taken advantage of their more favourable position and cut their deficit by more than a third. It will be a huge psychological boost for the team as they ride out the rough weather.

They've got their heads held high on board Gold Coast Australia as well, where overnight they snatched the lead from Visit Finland, who have been leading for the last two days.

"Wet, windy, squally, rainy and drizzly conditions... it seems the only place that the sun is shining at the moment is on Gold Coast Australia!" reports an ebullient Richard Hewson.

"The game of cat and mouse last night with Visit Finland and New York was a lot of fun and right now the cat is licking the blood off its paws, after on preying on both its victims for hopefully the last time.  This is the third time on this race to Madeira that Gold Coast Australia has taken the lead, and our team are hoping that it will be the last.  We are determined to push hard and stay out in front this time. However, with 640nm still to run to the finish, we definitely cannot take our finger off the pulse.

"We've worked hard throughout the night, dodging ships through major shipping lanes, and competing against strong gusty winds, amongst unpleasant drizzly and foggy conditions.  Despite the conditions, I just asked the crew how morale was... the answer was somewhere between four and eight out of ten. Not bad considering the long blustery night and given only a few days ago, at this time of day, all the crew would have been snuggled up in their queen sized beds, cosy and warm. But now everybody is having an amazing experience... one that could be described as just like the brochure!"

Visit Finland's skipper, Olly Osborne, says, "Another rather rough night behind, made tougher by the fact we seem to have lost our number one position despite working hard to keep it. The crew is eager to know when we get the fair weather downwind run this leg promised."

The wind is due to veer round in the next 12 hours or so to give the teams some respite. And it will be particularly welcome news for Singapore, as skipper, Ben Bowley, explains.  

"Last night was pretty damn miserable. Having spent the day searching for wind we found more than enough as we finally approached Cape Finisterre. Our sail plan was quickly changed from Yankee 1 and full main to Yankee 3 and two reefs. With the light failing and many squalls all around we soon had 35 knots of true wind (translating to over 40 over the deck) to deal with.  Rotary watch did a sterling job of getting the Number 3 down and lashed to the deck leaving us running with two reefs and the stay sail, still enough to keep the boat moving at 8.5 to 9 knots!  The conditions were pretty horrendous with driving rain stinging the face and reducing visibility to less than a cable.  We beat our way round Finisterre and were soon able to tack over onto port and start to cross the entrance of the TSS. (Traffic Separation Scheme)

"With one person constantly scanning both the AIS and Radar we had to call several ships and ask them to alter course for us.  Most were kind enough to oblige however one was not so, having said he would alter to come behind us he changed direction at the last minute and ended up very nearly running us down.

"With no more than 100 metres to spare he loomed out of the rain at us then made an emergency turn to starboard.  I think we all feared for our lives for a few seconds as we were powerless to get out of his way with so little time to spare.  He ended up passing within 80 metres of our transom, close enough for us to hear the throb of his engines and the swishing of his props from below decks.  The situation was fairly distressing for everyone and something I would never wish on my worst enemy. 

"Now the wind has veered once more and we are fetching straight to Madeira at 10 knots in 25 knots of breeze and a very confused sea, far from comfortable.  I'm sure the sun will return at some stage and dry out our bruised shattered bodies and cheer up our jaded souls."

At the back of the fleet, Qingdao's crew will also be happy if the winds come around to the north west as forecast in the next 12 hours.

Skipper, Ian Conchie, says, "It's been an interesting 24 hours. At the start of it we were cruising south under a dying wind with a grateful crew, happy for the respite from the rough weather.  Then we were becalmed in very light winds, calling for lots of sail changes and trim to keep Qingdao moving and, to finish it off, another wet and wild night full of shipping.  At one point we had one entire watch on the foredeck just to get the Yankee down as the apparent wind got up to over 40 knots. This was all dealt with calmly despite the walls of water coming over the bow."

De Lage Landen has also rounded Cape Finisterre and has had a fairly lively night. Skipper, Mat Booth, says, "It got more windy than we were expecting! We changed down and reefed early to enable us to manage the yacht in these stronger conditions but still we had to take more canvas down. Eventually I made the decision to hove to in order to get the head sail down and we sailed with just our reefed main sail and stay sail.

"We made good speed with this configuration but overnight we saw 40+ knots and now our wind instruments are not working. When things calm down we'll send someone up the rig to check them over and see if there is an obvious issue.

"The good news is things have calmed down and we're now beam reaching, laying a direct course for the finish with our Yankee 3, staysail and two reefs in."

Eighth this time yesterday, sixth at the midnight sched and by 0600 today Welcome to Yorkshire had cruised up to fourth place - another team to benefit from their more westerly position.

Skipper, Rupert Dean, reports, "Our strategy of keeping west of the fleet and of the Finisterre TSS seems to have paid off as we are now level with Derry-Londonderry, who were 20 miles ahead 18 hours ago. Crash, bang and wallop has been the theme of the past 24 hours as we have fought our way to get around Cape Finisterre. It's been a windward battle and extremely hard work for our team as they have been through every sail in the wardrobe, from wind seeker through to Yankee 3.

"The grib files we have been sent from the Race Office have been accurate for wind direction but about 10 knots under-reading on wind strength. The wind has also freed off a little, so we are starting to ease sheets to head direct to Madeira. Hopefully conditions will become more civilised soon."

Derry-Londonderry's skipper, Mark Light, offers some explanation for the gap closing between the English and Northern Irish boats, saying, "Yesterday started well... we had a great sail, making lots of miles on the leading boats then, as we approached Cape Finisterre, the front runners including us, parked up in a wind hole. There we sat for about 5 hours, drying equipment in the sunshine and setting about our boat cleaning, fixing, splicing, whipping and stowing! Although not sailing fast, it was a satisfying few hours. Then the breeze filled in and we sailed off south westerly in beautiful conditions.

"Throughout the day the wind strengthened, we reefed sails and the sky darkened. By nightfall we were storming along in 30 knots of wind eating up the miles - this was the notorious Cape Finisterre in her normal guise, like a threatened animal, baring its teeth. The sea was just playing with us, so with respect we dropped our Yankee headsail and are now screaming along south under two reefs in the main and staysail. Good speed, strong winds... next stop Madeira!"

The first yachts are expected to arrive in Quinta do Lorde Marina in Madeira on Tuesday 9 August.

Positions at 1200 UTC, Saturday 6 August

Boat                                    DTF*
1 Gold Coast Australia        593nm
2 Visit Finland            595nm (+3nm DTL*)    
3 New York            600nm (+8nm)
4 Derry-Londonderry        609nm (+16nm)
5 Welcome to Yorkshire        612nm (+19nm)
6 Singapore            619nm (+26nm)
7 De Lage Landen        652nm (+60nm)
8 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital    683nm (+90nm)
9 Geraldton Western Australia    686nm (+93nm)
10 Qingdao            719nm (+127nm)

*DTF = Distance to Finish, DTL = Distance to Leader
Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found at