In fluky wind conditions, Race 10 to from Panama to Jamaica began Monday morning with Jamaica first off the line, showing determination to break the so-called “home port curse” and secure its first win of the Clipper series.
Following its headsail hoists, the fleet was hit by a sudden squall, causing the winds to shift temporarily to the south. As the fleet headed north toward Jamaica, overall race leaders Hull & Humber moved into pole position with Durban 2010 and Beyond close on their heels, as both teams sacrificed direction in favour of speed by choosing to sail higher than best course.
The last four yachts to transit the Panama Canal sailed out into the Caribbean Sunday night to join the six who had completed their passage Friday and Saturday for the Le Mans start at a pre-arranged rendezvous point. In a Le Mans start, the yachts line up with only their mainsails hoisted. On the starting signal they must raise their headsails as quickly as they can to gain as much advantage as possible over their competition.
The 590-mile race is one of the shortest of the 14 individual races in Clipper 2007-08.
The Nova Scotia clipper got off to a slow start and found itself at the back of the pack trailing Western Australia and Singapore.
Current leaders Hull & Humber are confident they can maintain their current form and make another appearance on the podium.
“The race is going to be manic because it’s a sprint, so there’s not going to be any weather routing issues or anything,” said crew member Nigel Rose. “It’s just going to be side-by-side for four days, so it’s going to be tough and demanding. We seem to be able to push the boat harder than most. It’s challenging but we’re very good at it.”
The yachts are expected to arrive in Errol Flynn Marina, Port Antonio, late tonight or early tomorrow morning.