Clipper Fleet rides infamous Black Snake Current

Published on March 20th, 2014

(March 20, 2014) – Clipper Race skippers and crews are rejoicing at a welcomed return to warmer temperatures and faster paced open water racing. The light and patchy winds have faded away and the infamous ‘Black Snake’ Current is now sweeping the tightly packed fleet out into the North Pacific Ocean.

The 40,000 mile Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Yacht Race began the 5,600 mile leg from Qingdao, China to San Francisco, USA on March 16.

Clipper Race teams are now closely flying up the Japanese coastline, with just over 40 miles separating current race leaders Derry~Londonderry~Doire from eleventh place Invest Africa. Skippers report much improved boat speeds in the mid-teens with 20 knots plus of surf, in temperatures that have risen steadily from 5 degrees Celsius leaving Qingdao, to a current 22 degree high.

GREAT Britain’s early lead yesterday was erased after the team eventually experienced its own share of wind holes. As they passed Japan’s Sata Misaki lighthouse, the front six Derry~Londonderry~Doire, OneDLL, Old Pulteney, GREAT Britain, Jamaica Get All Right and Switzerland were reunited closely together in a parade style that would surely have impressed spectators.

Switzerland skipper Vicky Ellis detailed the scene: “As the light appeared this morning through the mist, so did the present of five other Clipper Race yachts. The fleet leaders were now just a mile away, could this be true? The wind backed and picked up and we all popped our kites up and the game was on, we were back in the mix.

“The six boats rounded the Sata Misaki lighthouse, perched against the dramatic cliffs of the southern tip of Japan in a glorious formation. Passing ships were treated to a parade of sail that would have put a big smile on the Race Directors face, as we flew past in perfectly spaced pairs with kites flying high and proud.”

Invest Africa skipper Rich Gould explained further the significance of the Japanese mark: “Earlier today we passed the southern tip of Japan, which marked not only the final waypoint before the Golden Gate Bridge finish line, but also the last land we will see before the USA appears over the horizon. Now, ahead of us, lies 5,000 miles of open ocean.”

Rich added: “It sure is good to be back out in open ocean, our last ocean crossing was the mighty Southern Ocean, in November last year, the Cape Town to Albany race.”

PSP Logistics officially started Race 10 at 12:50 UTC yesterday, and skipper Chris Hollis has reported mostly consistent breeze and a solid, average speed of 10 to 11 knots during their first hours. Once the team has been racing for 24 hours, the Clipper Race Office will be able to provide its daily mile average in order to directly compare PSP Logistics progress to the rest of the fleet.

However, an accident onboard PSP Logistics further complicates their re-entry into the race. Crew member Angie Faulkner is going to be medevaced off the yacht following an injury sustained when she fell into the cockpit on her arm.

The skipper Chris Hollis has taken the decision to divert to Kagoshima Wan (on the southern tip of Japan) and have the Leg 6 crew member medevaced off the yacht by the Japanese Coast Guard with a ship to ship transfer. The yacht will rendezvous with a Coast Guard Cutter in approximately 2 hours’ time, 21:45 UTC. She will then be taken to a hospital in Kagoshima for assessment on her arm.

Praxes, the Clipper Race’s medical partner, was contacted and it appears she has suffered some soft tissue damage to her bicep area.

Race 10 results will be based on overall elapsed time rather than first over the line after PSP Logistics delayed arrival into Qingdao following mechanical issues.

To read all the skipper reports click here.

To track the fleet’s progress on the official Race Viewer click here

All twelve teams are expected in San Francisco between 8-12 April, subject to prevailing conditions. The fleet will be berthed at South Beach Yacht Club until 19 April, the start of Race 11 to the Panama Canal.

The 40,000 mile Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Yacht Race began in London, UK on September 1 for the fleet of twelve identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. The race route includes Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Cape Town, South Africa; Albany, Sydney, Hobart and Brisbane, Australia; Singapore; Qingdao, China; San Francisco, USA; Panama; Jamaica; New York, USA; Derry-Londonderry, Ireland; and Den Helder, Netherlands before returning to London in July. Race website:

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