Clipper Race: Between here and there
Published on April 9th, 2018
(April 9, 2018; Day 17) – The fleet in the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race has reached the approximate halfway point of the 5,600 nautical mile race across the North Pacific Ocean from Qingdao to Seattle, and in a sign of how competitive things are, the gap between the top ranked teams continues to tighten.
Sanya Serenity Coast remains in the lead for a third consecutive day, though the chasing pack is right behind, with around 50 nautical miles separating first from the sixth ranked Unicef.
The close proximity of the other teams has not gone unnoticed aboard the third placed Qingdao, whose Skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “Sailing wise, we had a good 24 hour run with decent boat speeds. We gained on most of the fleet and after Unicef crossed our bow yesterday, we saw PSP Logistics passing our stern earlier today. It seems odd that after almost 3000nm of racing and in the middle of the North Pacific we are within sight of two other Clipper 70 yachts within a day.”
Whilst the champagne sailing conditions are continuing for most of the fleet, the next 24 to 48 hours will bring about a change as the next low brings southeast to south-southeast gusts of up to 60 knots.
Visit Seattle, which steadily making up ground on the rest of the fleet and has climbed two places to eighth, is anticipating an interesting and tactical few days as a result. “We gybed at dawn and now are heading north east,” Skipper Nikki Henderson says. “Hoping to avoid the lighter winds sliding in from the west before the next low-pressure system hits, whilst also not overstepping our virtual beach (Northern Limit).”
The currently fourth placed HotelPlanner.com climbed as high as first on the leaderboard overnight due to its close proximity to the rhumb line. It continues to be the most northerly placed of the fleet, as Skipper Conall Morrison comments: “We’ve had a good 24 hour run OF 272 nautical miles from 0600-0600 UTC, just need to keep as many of them as possible in the right direction.
“We have 35 knots of wind here at the moment but believe the boats further south may have a little less which would be conducive to flying Spinnakers. We tried for a couple of hours, it was great fun… but a little wild. The whole crew worked well to drop and recover the sail after being a little overpowered. The evolution went like clockwork and has improved self-belief around the boat.”
Whilst all is well with evolutions on board HotelPlanner.com, there were ‘kitemares’ aplenty overnight. Despite working its way up the standings from sixth to second over the last 24 hours, PSP Logistics lost some steam after a mishap with the Code 3. Skipper Matt Mitchell says: “We were making great progress, absolutely howling along, when the helm broached, causing a spinnaker wrap with the Code 3 (heavyweight spinnaker).
“It was pretty bad but thankfully only around the inner forestay. It took about 4 hours to sort out with a massive effort from everyone, but I don’t think the Code 3 will fly again this leg! The Yankee 1 will have to bravely take the place of the Code 3 for the time being; already we can see we are a bit off the pace!”
The sail repairers on board the ninth placed Liverpool 2018 have also been busy but after damaging both the Code 3 and Code 2, Skipper Lance Shepherd reports: “we are back on track, heading northeast at around 12 knots and are prepared to do battle with the next bit of fruity weather.”
Beginning March 24, the Clipper Race fleet left Qingdao, China for the 5,500 nm leg across the North Pacific Ocean to Seattle, USA. After approximately 24-29 days, the fleet is set to arrive into Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina between April 14-19.
It will be the second consecutive stopover in the West Coast USA city, with the Clipper Race previously visiting during the 2015-16 edition.
Following the Seattle stopover, the fleet will depart again on April 29 to race over 6,000 nm from Seattle to Panama during the first of two races that forms The US Coast-To-Coast Leg 7. From there, the teams will race on to New York, Derry-Londonderry, and then to the finish in Liverpool, UK.
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