Clipper Race: Light Breeze Lottery

Published on January 31st, 2018

(January 31, 2018; Day 1) – A testing first 24 hours of Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race has seen the 2017/18 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet make slow progress whilst at the mercy of a light wind lottery. With soaring temperatures to contend with and only a light breeze to fill the sails, teams have been working hard to try and break away from the main pack in patches of breeze.

The lack of wind, which has burdened the fleet since the race officially started yesterday, has kept teams closely together and has also brought about changes across the leaderboard.

Sanya Serenity Coast has pipped Dare To Lead to take first place today and whilst the leading team is beginning to make some progress towards the yacht’s home port of Sanya, the light wind conditions remain testing for the crew. Skipper Wendy Tuck explains: “It’s hot, the competition is even hotter with yachts all around us, the big Code 1 (lightweight spinnaker) is up, although it had a little rest last night as the breeze was really light and the Windseeker made an appearance for a few hours.”

Second placed Dare To Lead is being chased by PSP Logistics, now in third place, for the second consecutive day but as PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell explains, progress remains slow for both teams: “So, you may have noticed that we haven’t made very good progress over the last 24 hours, well we haven’t. Wind holes galore where every point of a knot of boat speed was worked hard for.”

Slightly behind the frontrunners, Unicef, now in fourth place, has moved up the leaderboard from fifth yesterday overtaking Visit Seattle which has dropped to fifth, whilst Qingdao has managed to hold onto sixth place for the second consecutive day.

HotelPlanner.com, in seventh place, has been busy clawing back some valuable miles on the fleet and is match racing with Garmin, currently eighth.
However, with such fickle wind speeds, positions have been changing continuously Race of your lifeas the fleet heads for the virtual course mark ‘Light’ where key tactical decisions will start to take effect.

HotelPlanner.com Skipper Conall Morrison reports: “We traded places with Qingdao during the night and early morning as we performed better at one stage under Windseeker, and then with a little more breeze they passed us under Code 1 (lightweight spinnaker). Right now, we are trying to match speed with Garmin.”

Whilst Garmin Skipper Gaetan Thomas is eager to start breaking away: “This morning we were the first boat to gybe and just after PSP Logistics and HotelPlanner.com did the same and later all the fleet did. Too bad, I was trying to do something tactical and sneaky but when we are all on AIS (Automatic Identification System) range, it seems that the fleet loves to stick like flies.”

The jostling of positions continues towards the back of the leaderboard but at only 15nm behind the leader, Nasdaq Skipper Rob Graham is staying optimistic, reporting: “The gentle conditions have allowed everybody to find their sea legs without passing through the seasickness stage, and allowed our new joiners in particular to concentrate on learning.”

Despite slipping to tenth place David Hartshorn, Skipper of GREAT Britain, is pleased with the progress of the team in the opening stages and has used the light airs as an opportunity for joining crew to perfect spinnaker helming skills.

After a mid-fleet start yesterday Liverpool 2018 is now in eleventh place.

Looking ahead, the next 24 hours should provide the teams with some cooler and faster conditions but Clipper Race Weather Guru Simon Rowell explains that the tropical depression which was due to bring big winds has moved further East of the course and is bringing less wind than initially forecast.

Team positions were correct at the time of reporting but are changing regularly so, keep up to date with how the changeable weather conditions affect the fleet as it completes the final 200 nautical miles via the Clipper Race Viewer and hear more from the Skippers and crew on the Team Pages.

Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race will finish in Sanya Serenity Marina in Sanya, and the fleet is expected to arrive between February 21 – 25 after roughly 23-27 days at sea.

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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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