Uninformed Comment

A useful send-off

Posted in Geography, Grammar & usage, Humour, In the news by uninformedcomment on September 16, 2009


I’ve been taking an abnormal amount of interest in the Clipper round-the-world yacht race, even to the extent of tracking its progress online.  There’s something romantic about the idea of a bunch of amateurs (under expert tutelage) huddled on a yacht, heading out into the wild seas for months, travelling to all sorts of romantic destinations.

It started rather ignominiously when the 10 boats, who were competing in a kind of practice race up the east coast of England from Portsmouth to Grimsby, were overwhelmed by the weather and had to pull into Lowestoft harbour to shelter.  Um, guys, this is inshore England, you know; it gets a lot rougher out there.  To be fair, they were a green crew, and, to the point, not as green as me, so it’s not my place to chuckle.  Really, it’s not.


The country of England (UK) is represented by the vessel Hull & Humber (pictured above, twice), a 20m Logoclad yacht that has a crew of 52 people aged 18 to 61.  That’s one person per week for a year, or, to put it another way, 4×13, or the square root of 2,704.   An astoninshing number to be so cramped for so long.  I’m not sure why they’re all sitting along the edge in that second picture, but I hope they’re allowed to get up and use the rest of the yacht from time to time.  It’s a long trip.

You can track the race on line using the AIS tracker I’ve talked about before here, or perhaps better on the race’s own “Race Viewer“, which seems to get more location and course information than available on AIS:


This image from the "Race Viewer" shows the yachts approaching La Rochelle, on the west coast of France, the first destination of the round-the-world race.

Of course, I’m not writing this simply to report the beginning of a race.  Others can do that much better.  I’m simply here to bring you a lovely quote, from the skipper, Piers Dudin, which I read on the This Is Grimsby website.

Clipper Quote



3 Responses

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  1. Greg Goss said, on November 11, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Why are they all sitting on the edge?

    The wind pushes on the sail. The weighted keep hangs down in the water and resists being pushed sideways. But if the wind pushes hard enough, the ship angles over and the keek no longer transforms that push into a faster push in a different direction.

    So when a ship heels over, you can either take some of the sails off, or move your movable weights to the side of the ship that’s being lifted into the air. On a well-stowed ship, about the only weights that can be easily moved are the crew themselves.

    You’ll see this even more so on two-man sailboats. You see people standing on the side, leaning way baci as they hold onto some rope or other.

    • uninformedcomment said, on November 12, 2009 at 9:00 am

      But it seemed funnier to feign puzzlement. Equally, I’m pretty sure they don’t spend the whole trip sitting like that.

    • Peter Ward said, on November 12, 2009 at 7:30 pm

      The chap “standing on the side” of the larger sailing dinghys are hanging from the mast. The thing’s called a trapeze (there’s one each side), and it clips into a harness worn by the crew, who needs both hands free to handle the jib sheet, which is probably the rope you’re seeing.

      There is a knack to not falling off the edge when out on the trapeze, especially in choppy waters. Once you’re out there, and finally managing to stay there, it’s a thrilling experience.

      There are also straps in the boat you hook your feet under, “kicking straps”, and you just lean back – very good for the stomach muscles, smaller dinghys will rely solely on these.

      There’s also a thing called a sliding seat, which does exactly what it says on the tin, sliding out to one side or the other, but I have no experience of those.

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