Clipper Race: Settling in for long haul

Published on January 30th, 2018

(January 30, 2018) – Although Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race may only be in its opening hours, Dare To Lead has managed to pull away and currently has a two nautical mile advantage on the pack which, after the first Le Mans start of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race, remains tightly compacted.

Whilst the Dare To Lead team settles in as it gears up for the first long race since Race 3 from Cape Town, South Africa, to Fremantle, Australia, speaking from on board, Skipper Dale Smyth said: “Today, the temperature is soaring and we did our start at 04:00 UTC. We got a clean break and a little bit of space ahead of the fleet, long may it last.”

After its podium result for Race 6, PSP Logistics is looking to continue its successes and has managed to push slightly ahead of the majority of the fleet alongside Sanya Serenity Coast as the two teams jostle for second and third place.

Matt Mitchell, Skipper of PSP Logistics comments on the start of Race 7: “It was a clean start and the guys did a great job in getting our sails set, followed by a text book spinnaker hoist once the ten minutes that we have to maintain the set course and sail plan was up.

“The wind is fairly light now and due to decrease so it will be a little bit of a light wind lottery, although the weather forecast has the wind filling in again over the next 24 hours.”

After initially leading the fleet following the Le Mans start, Unicef has slipped down to fourth during the opening hours of the race. With light winds to contend with, the rest of the fleet remains almost neck-and-neck and whilst positions are likely to change regularly over the coming 24 hours, it is Visit Seattle, the most northerly of the pack, that claims fifth place.

Reflecting on the Airlie Beach Stopover, and all of the adventures that still await, Visit Seattle Skipper Nikki Henderson says: “Now we bid farewell to Australia, which has been our home for over two months now. It feels bitter sweet, it’s become familiar and feels settled to be here.

“And yet, now over half way in the race it’s time to head home – first of all back over the equator to the Northern Hemisphere and to China. I’m sure both Sanya and Qingdao will be a fascinating experience for everyone. Soon Seattle – our home port and then back into the Atlantic – back into home turf – NYC, Northern Ireland – and Liverpool. Quite an exciting six months awaits!”

GREAT Britain, now under the lead of Skipper Dave Hartshorn, is right in the middle of the pack currently sixth but is closely followed by Nasdaq in seventh, however, Skipper Rob Graham is holding back from any big tactical moves just yet, explaining: “With a virtual mark ‘Light’ to round before entering the Doldrums Corridor, we’re not expecting any big tactical decisions yet – only helming and trimming will make the difference and we might remain close together as a fleet.”

Liverpool 2018 will be looking to replicate its podium success in Race 6, whilst currently in eighth the team will be looking to make gains and keep to the front of the leading pack during Race 7.

Towards the back of the fleet, but only separated from frontrunner Dare To Lead by 2.9nm, Qingdao takes tenth place and Garmin is in eleventh.

With some 4,100 nautical miles ahead of them, and such close racing out of the blocks, there is likely to be a significant amount of change on the leaderbaoard as teams re-adjust to life back at sea after the shorter races of Leg 4.

Whilst the fleet settles in for the long-haul, Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell explains that the light conditions that are currently challenging the fleet should remain for the rest of the day but looking ahead, the fleet is likely to encounter some squally conditions over the next 26-48 hours, and should expect to see wind speeds in the 40 knots bracket.

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Beginning January 30, Race 7 of the 13 stage Clipper 2017-18 Race will see the fleet race 4280nm to Sanya, China. From there teams will race onwards to Qingdao, also in China; across the North Pacific Ocean to Seattle, and through the Panama Canal to New York.

The course to Sanya is expected to take between 23 to 27 days, with the fleet expected to arrive into the Sanya Serenity Marina between February 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. The race concludes in Liverpool on July 28.

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.

* Twelve teams began the first leg but one yacht (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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