Clipper Fleet: Calm Before the Storm

Published on March 27th, 2014

(March 27, 2014) – On Day 10, Leg 6, racing conditions have diminished overnight for the Clipper Fleet with winds down to just 5 knots this morning. As the anticipated low pressure system draws ever closer to the Clipper Race fleet and with 3,500 miles of racing across the North Pacific remaining until they reach San Francisco, skippers of the 12 teams are now waiting and hoping that they have positioned themselves correctly to capitalize on it.

Simon Rowell, the Clipper Race meteorologist, said the 925 hPa winds are showing between 50 and 60 knots, he expects to see gusts in the 60s, and up to the 70s depending on where the teams are.

Eric Holden, skipper of Henri Lloyd explained the condition change: “The sun was out in full force this morning, however the cloud has been steadily thickening and it has recently begun to rain. Change is most definitely on the way.”

Following completion of Invest Africa and GREAT Britain’s Stealth Mode periods, it is clear that almost all the fleet has headed south. These teams are aiming to avoid the worst of both a giant wind hole and the strongest winds of the impending, northerly front, whilst hoping to hold on to the potentially fairer but more steady winds that are expected to pay first dividends.

Derry~Londonderry~Doire and OneDLL both made late, opposing course changes early this morning. Sean McCarter, skipper of first placed Derry~Londonderry~Doire explained his move: “We are currently making a last minute dive south to try and avoid or minimise time spent in the worst area and head winds of the approaching low pressure system.”

Commented on his late northerly move, Olly Cotterell, skipper of OneDLL said: “I think that the boats further south are going to get better winds and sooner, so our position in the fleet is set to fall, however in the coming days being further north may once again pay dividends.”

Mission Performance, now in third place, remains the most northerly positioned yacht in the fleet. Skipper Matt Mitchell explained his tactics: “It is our turn for a wind hole this afternoon, however I am hopeful that it won’t last too long, and our position with regards to the low pressure system is looking pretty good, meaning that for a time at least, we will be far enough above it to avoid the worst of the headwinds and by the time it moves up over us, the wind should have backed enough so that it sits just aft of the beam.

“I am sure we will lose a bit of ground to the rest of the fleet once they are free of the wind but hopefully we have managed to minimise the damage. I anticipate that we will still be able to point at our waypoint even when the wind is on the nose, as opposed to beating towards our destination.”

Qingdao’s Stealth Mode will end at 12:00 UTC while OneDLL will enter a 48 hour Stealth Mode period at 18:00 UTC tonight. All boats are entitled to two 24 hour Stealth Mode periods in Race 10 and can choose whether to use these separately or together.

As of 16:00 UTC, Derry-Londerry-Doire is leading the Clipper Fleet to San Francisco. The teams leaderboard position is updated daily at 12:50 UTC based on its previous 24 hours elapsed distance.

Report by event media

Skipper reports: http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-reports
Race tracker: http://yb.tl/clipper2013-race10
Race website: http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com

Background:
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.

Eleven teams started the 5,600 mile leg from Qingdao, China to San Francisco, USA on March 16. PSP Logistics started the leg on March 19, a result of their late arrival into China due to several setbacks.

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

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.

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