Race 14 Day 7: Ice gate moved south as GREAT Britain spots growler

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The crews are on constant iceberg watch in cold and gusty conditions after GREAT Britain spotted a growler (a smaller piece of floating ice protruding out of the water). 

Yesterday the air and water temperatures plummeted as the fleet neared the ice fields and the Clipper Race Office moved the position of the northerly ice mark “Hollis” to the south by 2 degrees to 43N 42W and instructed the yachts not to proceed north of 43N as a precautionary measure. 

The Canadian Ice Service’s report shows no ice south of 43N but some of the teams are slightly altering course as a precaution as they monitor water temperature and their radars.

Simon Talbot, skipper of GREAT Britain, in fourth position, said there had been a rapid drop in temperature down to 6 degrees and he knew that there was a possibility of some ice being nearby.

“Fifteen minutes after the sea temperature had plummeted, we saw the growler. It was about a metre in diameter, like a massive jagged snowball, deep blue in colour and floating a few centimetres below the water surface. Thankfully we managed to avoid it and it passed safely a couple of metres away down our port hand side.

“We immediately reported our sighting to the Race Office so that they could inform the rest of the fleet and as a precaution the Race Office also issued an urgent course amendment, moving the second ice mark of the course southwards a couple of degrees to force the whole fleet, including ourselves, to take a more southerly course and reduce the chance of another encounter.” 

Pete Stirling, skipper of Jamaica All Right, currently in first place, said this year there were a lot more icebergs further south than normal.

“We have 105 miles to go to the ice mark and 190 miles to go to the Scoring Gate [The position of the Scoring Gate remains unchanged].

Derry~Londonderry~Doire is pushing very hard and is not that far behind us so it is going to be close. 

“On the weather front it is now getting very cold, particularly at night, and we are rotating half the on watch from on deck to down below every hour in order to allow them to warm up. We have 25 knots of wind from the north west making for fast sailing conditions but a difficult sea state to helm in and keep the boat going in a straight line. 

“The wind is forecast to die down and back to the west after we cross the Scoring Gate. Even though we are still significantly further south than the latitude of the UK I do expect the weather to warm up as we escape the clutches of the cold Labrador Current and the wind backs to the west.” 

Derry~Londonderry~Doire is in second place and Switzerland is still third.