Clipper Race: Strong wind coming
Published on March 8th, 2018
(March 8, 2018; Day 4) – Half the fleet in the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race has begun the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint for Race 8: The Sailing City Qingdao Cup, though all eleven teams are having to deal with the arrival of strong north-easterlies.
The fleet has been buffeted over the last day, with Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell reporting the main pulse of the incoming northeast is just upwind of the leading pack, with the gusts estimated to peak at 50 knots over the next 24 hours.
PSP Logistics, who has now led for three of the four days since leaving Sanya, was the first to begin the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, and Skipper Matt Mitchell admits the current upwind conditions are ‘uncomfortable’, especially in light of the constant fishing activity.
“We’ve also just passed through a field of fishing nets, hooking one on our rudder and managing to avoid the others,” explained Matt. “I’m very much hoping that we don’t come across any during the night when the wind is strong.”
Just 15 nautical miles behind is Visit Seattle, having jumped from sixth to second in the rankings in the last 24 hours. The position change didn’t come easy, as Skipper Nikki Henderson reports: “The weather is getting tougher and tougher with gruelling sail changes and soaking wet and cold conditions.
“The reality is that it is going to continue for some days. Absolutely everyone has stuck their neck out for each other. I wish all their loved ones could see how hard each and every one of them is working for each other. This sailing malarkey is hard work – but such good fun!”
With Sanya Serenity Coast, fourth, persisting with a southerly route, Liverpool 2018 has jumped into third place. With the team adjusting to life at an angle, the team’s Skipper Lance Shepherd comments: “We have just started the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint and are bobbing on at a steady 8-9 knots. The sun is out and it’s not started getting too cold as yet but I’m sure it will get colder everyday once we start heading north.”
Less than 10 nautical miles currently separates fifth placed GREAT Britain from Unicef in sixth. Unicef Skipper Bob Beggs, who raced this stretch of water as the Skipper of Qingdao in the Clipper 2015-16 Race, is preparing for tough times ahead, saying: “The weather so far has been kind. We haven’t had any strong winds and a pretty flat sea with an occasional slam since leaving Sanya.
“We have currently 940 miles as the crow flies to the finish line but we still have to round Taiwan and beat north so we will probably sail 2000 nautical miles through the water to get there. We are now prepared for the gale force winds expected soon.”
After pausing to transfer equipment to repair its water maker, Qingdao has jumped three places overnight to be seventh. Skipper Chris Kobusch explains: “Yesterday we decided to tack and head north again to get a better angle for the predicted wind shift. Once the wind backed, we tacked again and have now been on a port tack for about 18 hours.
“It looks like the wind will pick up and shift east again over the next 24 hours and we will be beating into it for the duration of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.”
HotelPlanner.com is less than a nautical mile further astern of Qingdao in eighth place, whilst little is separating Garmin, Nasdaq and Dare To Lead, in ninth, tenth and eleventh respectively. All three teams are due to begin their Elliot Brown Ocean Sprints in the coming hours.
“The wind has increased, our sail plan has decreased, but the only significant change has been that an overcast sky has lowered the sweltering temperature to something quite pleasant,” reports Nasdaq Skipper Rob Graham.
Beginning March 4, the final section of the Asia-Pacific Leg 5, officially known as Race 8: The Sailing City Qingdao Cup, will take the fleet from Sanya to Qingdao in China.
The 1700 nm race to Qingdao is expected to take between ten to twelve days, with the fleet expected to arrive into the Wanda Yacht Club between March 13 and 16.
Following the Qingdao Stopover, the Clipper Race fleet will depart again on March 23 for the Mighty Pacific Leg 6, a 5,600 nautical mile race across the world’s biggest and remote ocean to Seattle.
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.
Source: Clipper Ventures