Clipper Race: The drag race begins

Published on November 4th, 2017

(November 4, 2017; Day 4) – It has been a testing 24 hours for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet as it made its way through relentless upwind storm conditions yesterday.

Sanya Serenity Coast has retained its lead again today, which it has held since leaving Table Bay on Tuesday, but its advantage over the pack has reduced by 20 nautical miles.

Racing remains tight for the following pack with less than a nautical mile separating second placed Garmin with third placed PSP Logistics although this is something that PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell predicts will change today.

Mitchell explains: “Today will probably see the first breakout into the Southern Ocean from the fleet and the drag race will begin, big surfing and fast speed will be the order of the day. Despite the strong headwinds and difficult living conditions, the team remain in good spirits. However, the general consensus is that we much prefer downwind sailing!”

The tough conditions have been felt throughout the fleet with gusts of up to 74 knots reported by Skipper Dale Smyth on board fourth placed Dare To Lead but as the wind has eased and backed overnight, life on board is beginning to get more settled for the teams. In fifth place and just four nautical miles behind, Visit Seattle is re-adjusting to life at less of an angle and Skipper Nikki Henderson reflects on the experience.

Henderson says: “I love moments like this, actually, when you feel like you really got through something as a team and come out stronger. Now we just need a few more days sleep before we can laugh about it!”

Sixth placed Liverpool 2018 and seventh placed Qingdao make up the rest of the chasing pack and for Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch, the Southern Ocean has been full of surprises.

“The boat and crew took it well and steered us through a difficult night,” Kobusch said. “By sunrise the front had passed and the wind backed to a more northerly one with lighter winds. So light, in fact, that we struggled to move at all in the early morning hours. Our Southern Ocean experience has been a strange one so far…”

Chasing this pack is eighth placed Unicef and ninth placed GREAT Britain. In tenth place, Nasdaq Skipper Rob Graham has reported a fantastic mood amongst crew.

Graham says: “We’re now sailing happily eastwards under full sail; favourable winds and the sun is shining from a blue sky. Amazing what a difference all of that makes to the atmosphere onboard – the crew have more smiles and energy, and the daily duties don’t seem like such a chore.”

In eleventh place, HotelPlanner.com is diverting to Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in order to drop off round the world crew member, Greg Adams, who has potentially fractured his arm and sustained a minor cut on his head following a fall below deck.

Although this medevac is necessary, it is not an emergency. Skipper Conall Morrison has reported this morning that the sailing is going well as they progress towards Port Elizabeth and Clipper Race Weather Guru, Simon Rowell, has reported good conditions for the team.

The necessary diversion has, however, provided an opportunity for six Greenings crew members, who still wish to continue their Leg 3 passage to Fremantle, to join Conall and the HotelPlanner.com team after CV24 ran aground shortly after race start. Full story… click here.

Looking ahead, once the current front has passed, the wind will continue to back and is likely to swing around from the South over the next day or so. The next interesting tactical moves to keep an eye on will be how the teams set up for the next low-pressure system which is due to sit on the rhumb line. Watch this space!

The last 24 hours has brought about a dramatic change for the Clipper Race fleet as it experiences the true conditions of the Southern Ocean for the first time on Race 3: The Dell Latitude Rugged Race.

Note: Greenings ran aground just hours after the start on October 31 of the third leg from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle, Australia. The crew was safely evacuated but damage to the boat was deemed too extensive for it to continue in the 2017-18 edition.


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The third stage of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race, officially known as Race 3: The Dell Latitude Rugged Race, got underway October 31 for the 12 teams from Cape Town for the 4,754 nm Southern Ocean sleigh ride towards Fremantle, Australia. Teams are expected to finish between November 21 and 25.

Background: Held biennially, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race got underway August 20 for the fleet of twelve identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. The 40,000nm course is divided into 13 individual races with the team having the best cumulative score winning the Clipper Race Trophy. Each team is led by a professional skipper with an all-amateur crew that signs up for one, some, or all the races. The 2017-18 race, expected to take 11 months, has attracted 712 people representing 41 nationalities, making it the largest to date.

Race RouteRace Schedule and Miles

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Source: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

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