Clipper Race: Seven wide at the turn
Published on November 24th, 2017
(November 24, 2017; Day 24) – It’s shaping up to be an incredibly close finish on Sunday (Nov. 26) for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in Fremantle with less than 70 nautical miles separating the top seven teams.
PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell, currently in fifth, says: “4500 miles of racing and it will all come down to the last 30 hours or so. It really could be anyone’s race at the moment and pressure is on to keep the boat going as fast as possible.”
For a second successive day, a new leader has revealed themselves after Unicef re-emerged from its invisibility cloak in pole position at 1800 UTC last night following spending the previous 24 hours in Stealth Mode. The team’s tactics of staying on a southerly route proved to pay off with GREAT Britain, who had also stayed south, not far behind in second place.
Unicef Skipper Bob Beggs explains the team’s improved performance but is not resting on his laurels: “The weather has been kind over the last few days, all downwind under spinnakers with reasonable boat speed. The fleet is all very close which makes for an exciting finish. We have our friends, GREAT Britain currently on AIS (Automatic Identification System) just nine miles to leeward creeping up on the outside. The atmosphere is always better when the yachts all arrive very close together.”
The crew of GREAT Britain have dug incredibly deep to move into second place after the tragic events of last weekend and have said: “Team GREAT Britain’s spirit is slowly returning to the GREAT boat. Last night it dawned on us that we have still got a really good chance to do well in this race. This could be the ultimate tribute to Simon Speirs, to get the podium finish that we have all hoped for since we started the race. It would be very fitting as Simon was secretly one of the most competitive on the boat.”
Many of the teams further north have continued to struggle with little wind and Nikki Henderson Skipper of Visit Seattle, which dropped to third place after holding the lead yesterday, said: “I think we all mentally and emotionally prepared ourselves to be nearing the finish right now – 290 miles has never felt so far.”
Just behind there’s less than 20 nautical miles separating Qingdao, PSP Logistics, and Dare To Lead currently in fourth, fifth and sixth with PSP Logistics Skipper, Matt Mitchell commenting: “We are starting to get more boats in sight now as Dare To Lead has popped up on the AIS (Automatic Identification System) over the last half an hour.”
After leading for much of the race, the wind hole has been a particularly frustrating experience for Sanya Serenity Coast, which today slipped to seventh place but Skipper Wendy Tuck remains philosophical: “Even though we are not where we would like to be, it is lovely sailing out here right now, blue sky, blue seas, warm temperature – all in all a nice day. Best news is we are moving – after parking up for 24 hours, movement is good.”
Further back, both Liverpool 2018 and Garmin, eighth and ninth, have also been unable to escape the wind hole and Garmin Skipper Gaëtan Thomas explains: “We had a good plan to pass through the wind hole and the hole moved right where we were. We weren’t that good in the leaderboard anyway but one of our last chances to gain some places just disappeared.”
With around 450 nautical miles to go, HotelPlanner.com is currently in tenth position after Nasdaq went into Stealth Mode. It will re-emerge again at 1800 UTC today and, in the meantime, Skipper Rob Graham has eschewed talk about sailing to praise the work of the Clipper Race Maintenance Team: “The maintenance guys do a fantastic job of getting everything done to schedule at stopovers, and as Skippers and crew our end of the deal is to help where we can, often that involves staying out of their way and just letting them get on with it, provide them with coffees by day…and beers by night.”
The wind hole that the Clipper Race fleet has been experiencing will reduce the amount of time teams had been expecting in Fremantle. However, Clipper Race Meteorologist, Simon Rowell, has good news reporting that over the next few hours, the Clipper Race fleet will be free of the clutches of the high-pressure system with a good sail in.
For finish time ETAs… click here.
• 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. Updates here.
• HotelPlanner.com medevaced an injured crew member in Port Elizabeth and brought aboard six new honorary HotelPlanner.com crew members, formally of team Greenings, on board for Race 3 as it continues the race to Fremantle.
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.
Source: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race