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Race 8 from Brisbane to Singapore for the Old Pulteney Navigator Cup is underway following a Le Mans Start to the 4,500 mile challenging course.

Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Whisky is sponsoring the race to Singapore to pay tribute to the skilful individuals who will navigate this tough seafaring challenge. Known as the Maritime Malt due to its rich seafaring heritage, Old Pulteney’s partnership with the Clipper Race celebrates the spirit of global maritime adventure.

Navigational challenges abound in the narrow confines of the Indonesian Island Chain and, once north of the equator the fleet will leave Papua New Guinea to port and start a light airs battle in high temperatures through the islands of Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. From Singapore the temperatures start to plummet as the fleet beets towards sub zero winter conditions in Chinese waters.

Mission Performance has had to return to Rivergate Marina due to a problem with their 240v electrical system.  They will be met there by the fleet engineer who will attend to the problem. All attempts at resolving the issue remotely have failed. Once the problem has been resolved the yacht will return to the start coordinates and begin racing.

The Le Mans Start was used due to local constraints and conditions which meant it was not possible to create a standard start line and this method has been successfully used in previous races.  In this instance the northern part of Moreton Bay is strewn with sandbanks which make navigation whilst racing hazardous.  So the decision was taken to start the race offshore north of Moreton Bay.

The aim of all Skippers is to ensure that the Le Mans Start is as fair as practically possible.

The Le Mans start procedure is as follows and uses the standard Clipper start countdown of 10 min, 4 min, 1 min, Start:

Prior to the 10 minute signal all boats have their mainsails hoisted; headsails hanked on, halyards and sheets attached, but NOT hoisted.

All boats motor slowly (speed set by Duty Skipper, in this instance Gareth Glover), approx 2 to 3 boat lengths apart in a line abreast on a pre-arranged heading. This heading is usually towards the finish.

Once the fleet is in a line abreast, the lead skipper signals the 10 minute gun via VHF on a pre-arranged channel. Engines shall be used to ensure that the boats are lined up accordingly (either reverse or forward).

At the 4 minute signal, all crew shall be aft of the forward coffee grinder.

At the one minute signal, engines are to be turned off.

Mainsails are trimmed to ensure the fleet stays in line. If the fleet drift out of line, the Duty Skipper can stop the sequence and start the process again.

At the start gun, the crew can move forward and the headsails can be hoisted.

All boats must hold the agreed course and separation for the first 10 minutes after the start gun.

Race Director Justin Taylor described Race 8 for the Old Pulteney Navigator Cup, he said: “It’s really a race in 3 parts.  The first 1000nm or so, the main weather will be influenced by the South East trade winds blowing across the Coral Sea.  This will mean that the first part of the race will be quite quick and they should be at the eastern end of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in approximately 5 day's time.

“When they enter the Solomon Sea at the eastern end of PNG the forecast has the wind decreasing with increased squall activity as the fleet approach the doldrums.  This part of the race will be all about keeping the boat moving.  The focus should remain on sail trim in order to get north as quickly as possible into the north east trade winds north of the equator, not an easy thing to do in the soaring heat.

“Once they return to the trade winds we should see boat speeds increase until the fleet arrives at the Celebes Sea and Sulu Seas respectively, just south of the Philippines.  When the fleet clears this patch of light airs it will break out into the South China Sea and the final 800nm run to the finish.

“The Piracy Reporting Centre has been informed of the fleet’s route and we have been advised that the risk of piracy is low with the last reported incident back in 2011.

“The whole 4300nm race for the Old Pulteney Navigator Cup is a real navigator’s challenge and with variable wind conditions across the whole race area it will also be an extremely tactical race.”

Follow the fleet’s progress on the official Clipper Race Tracker here.