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THE TIMES CLIPPER 2000 PERFECT CONDITIONS FOR START TO JAPAN

by Sue Warden-Owen on 6 Feb 2001
A clear blue sky and 20 to 25 knots of warm north-northeast trade winds
greeted the Clipper fleet for the start of Race 6 of The Times Clipper 2000
Round The World Yacht Race, a 3400 nautical mile race from Hawaii (Honolulu)
to Japan (Yokohama). The fleet of eight identical 60-ft yachts, each
sponsored by UK cities including Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London,
Plymouth, Portsmouth and the island of Jersey, set sail at 12:00 Hawaiian
Standard Time (22:00 GMT) yesterday, Sunday 4th February.

Despite some serious competition from 'Pro-ball', Hawaii's answer to the
Super Bowl, about half a dozen boats joined the Clipper fleet as they left
the dock of the Hawaii Yacht Club, including several vessels with friends
and family on board. Due to the wind direction, the start line was
positioned off shore with a short half-mile beat to windward back in towards
Waikiki beach.

A very close start saw Matt Baker and the crew of Plymouth Clipper just
ahead at the line. Building on this, a few good tacks saw them reach the
windward mark one and a half minutes in front of Jersey Clipper in second
place. Soon after London, Liverpool, Bristol then Glasgow Clipper rounded
the mark, setting their spinnakers as they bore away to the west, with Leeds
and Portsmouth seemingly just a few yards behind. Most yachts chose to set
their heavy weight 2.2oz kites, however Leeds and Liverpool bit the bullet
and went straight for the bigger 1.5oz. As they headed towards the horizon
both boats seemed to be making excellent speed and Liverpool Clipper already
looked to be catching London for third place. The next 3,400 miles to
Yokohama certainly promise to be every bit as exciting as the 1st.

Following the start, the committee boat returned to the harbour to find
Plymouth Clipper crewmember Alan Miller, a 56 year old Operations Manager
from Northants, still standing on the dock. Having witnessed a road traffic
accident, the police had required Mr. Miller to make a statement, not
allowing him to leave for any reason. Mr. Miller has since joined his
fellow crewmembers aboard Plymouth Clipper after a local Club member offered
the services of his high-powered speed boat and they set off at 35 knots
heading for the front of the fleet, 2 hrs 15 minutes after the start.

This is the third crew leg of The Times Clipper 2000, which will cover a
distance of approximately 6,000 miles, over some seven weeks, on its way to
Hong Kong via Japan and China. Almost 4,000 miles separate Hawaii from
Japan and the voyage starts with a fast, warm down wind sleigh ride which
can exceed 200 miles a day. As the fleet nears Japan, the race becomes
tactical and the climate cools but a warm welcome awaits the crews at the
Bayside Marina in Yokohama, just a short suburban train ride from Tokyo.
Time is allowed at this stopover to explore the country and see Mount
Fujyama before racing on again to China and a voyage up the Yangtze River.

The Times Clipper 2000 is the only yacht race to travel up the Yangtze,
where the eight-strong fleet of identical 60-foot Clippers motor in convoy
up this very busy waterway to Shanghai. Following a stop over here, the
race then re-starts for the final stretch of this leg, sailing through the
Taiwan Strait for Hong Kong which is the half way point of the eleven-month
circumnavigation and where a number of crew changes will again take place.

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