Yachts restart Race 9 to Qingdao, China

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The first nine yachts of the Clipper Race fleet have departed Hong Kong and restarted Race 9 after completing repairs to the forestay bottlescrews.

GREAT Britain, Derry~Londonderry~Doire, Invest Africa and Mission Performance left Middle Island - part of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club - Saturday evening local time (+8 hours UTC) while Switzerland departed on Sunday morning.

All teams have since restarted Race 9 after crossing the restart gate. Race 9 will be decided upon elapsed times into Qingdao, China. The start times of each of the fleet will be listed in due course.

Matt Mitchell, skipper of Mission Performance, said: “It was very interesting this morning as within 15 minutes the wind changed from 5 knots to 30 knots. Life is going to start getting more and more uncomfortable as we make our way towards the Taiwan Strait, and it is already too cold to be on deck in anything less than full foul weather gear, thermals and hats!” 

Rich Gould, skipper of Invest Africa, said: “It's looking like it is definitely going to be a bit of a bumpy ride going north, the big question is will we make it out of the northern end of Taiwan Strait before the big breeze gets there?  Only time will tell...wish us luck.” 

Simon Rowell, meteorologist for the Clipper Race, said: “There's a much colder tongue of water along the Chinese coast, so I expect that the further offshore you are the less the chances of fog will be.  

“The current has changed somewhat too, with the monsoon-driven component on the Chinese coast side getting stronger.  This will at least improve the sea state.  The wind over the next few days is mostly north east, there will be lulls in that but the synoptic situation is reasonably steady, with no depression forecast to start up for the next four days or so.” 

Team Garmin, Old Pulteney, Qingdao and Henri Lloyd all arrived overnight and departed at 1400 local time (Sunday) after the repairs.

Knox-Johnston has been lashing the forestay instead of using a rigging screw using the exact same system he does on his Open 60 racing yacht.

"There was no alternative. It wasn’t just a question of possibly losing a mast, it was a question of safety so we had to take action instantly," said Knox-Johnston.

"There are always adjustments needed with new boats and little things that need looking at. It’s not the end of the world because the skippers were onto it very quickly.

"The crews were all prepared when they arrived into Hong Kong so we could get on with it very quickly. There is an advantage with a one design fleet that it makes it easier for us as one solution fits all boats.

“We suspect a lack of articulation at the base of the forestay is the main reason for this type of failure. The fitting is being replaced with Dyneema cordage.  Dyneema is an ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fibre. It is known as the world’s strongest fibre and weight for weight is 15 times stronger than steel wire ©. 

“The boats have been through two serious storms in the Southern Ocean. This race is testing for the boats. We know the boats are tough and strong and the crews can cope with them,” Knox-Johnston added.

A 10mm diameter section has a breaking load of 10,000kgs, or 10 metric tonnes.  The load on the forestays currently is 26 tonnes, so in theory 1.5 loops of Dyneema is strong enough for a Clipper 70.  Knox-Johnston is putting in three loops which is 6 x 10mm sections per yacht, or a breaking load of 60 tonnes. 

The solution has also been approved by an MCA surveyor.

Jamaica Get All Right is expected to arrive in Hong Kong on Monday morning while PSP Logistics and OneDLL are due on Monday evening. 

The daily race reports will restart on Monday morning, you can also keep up to date by following the Clipper Race twitter feed.

The fleet is expected to arrive into Qingdao between 10-12 March.