The Clipper Round the World Race has been halted due a risk of piracy off the coast of Borneo.
The ten-strong fleet was yesterday cruising through the Sulu and Celebes sea in three groups for “safety reasons”, the racing yachts having switched on their engines.
And that was a good thing, according to the Derry skipper Mark Light for more than one reason. “The idea of motoring was partly due to the very low risk of piracy activity and partly due to the general lack of wind in this area. This has proven to be a very wise decision as we experience another windless day with very high temperatures and a flat, shimmering sea,” he said in his 0600 report to the Race Office yesterday.
The Derry clipper, having last week slipped back from first place in the race to Singapore with Gold Coast Australia regaining the lead, remained in second place yesterday. And the crew members were hoping to keep up the good work when the race resumes in the race for a podium finish, although they are enjoyed some well deserved rest. “We are making good progress and have only 175 nautical miles to go until the re-start gate,” Mark said. “Our 12-hourly stops for engine checks bring a welcome opportunity for a swim between the boats. The water is a great temperature (we estimate approximately 27C). We also managed to do a book exchange this morning. So, all going well, no pirates, no sharks and plenty of sleep. Roll on the re-start gate and let’s get racing.” Assistant Race Director, Justin Taylor explained that Gold Coast Australia must restart within 95 hours of beginning the ‘cruise’ phase which is before 2055 UTC today while the Derry clipper must restart tomorrow before 2214 UTC. “They can restart at any time before this, however I suspect that they will leave it as long as possible as the wind conditions in the South China Sea are a bit light at the moment with the wind forecasted to increase slightly in about 48 hours’ time.”