Conditions scramble as Clipper fleet nears equator

Published on May 4th, 2014

(May 4, 2014) – With the Clipper Race fleet off of El Salvador, the wind has strengthened and veered, and the 12 teams are now beating upwind, with the leaders 700 nm from the finish in Panama. Having sailed through squalls followed by wind holes yesterday, weather forecasts have been largely inaccurate due to the large amount of unpredictable squall activity.

Rankings vary amid the changeable conditions, with Henri Lloyd holding a narrow lead over GREAT Britain. Eric Holden, skipper of Henri Lloyd, said his team had seen wind gusts up to 30 knots during the squalls and had to put reefs in the mainsail and drop the Yankee.

“This was followed by no wind and doing circles and putting everything back up again. When the wind dies the boat really struggles as with so many wind shifts the seas are coming from every direction and is really messy.

“Lately we’ve been under this massive storm complex and seem to get headed every time we tack. Our track looks horrendous. I am starting to wonder if we’ll ever find an exit. Even though we’re surrounded by open water on all sides, it feels like we are stuck in a maze and each turn leads us deeper and deeper until we’re lost for good.”

Gareth Glover, skipper of more northerly Qingdao, said its strategy to take advantage of the wind filling in from the north had failed.

“We have over 25 knots of wind, two reefs in the main and a staysail. Less than 12 hours ago we had no wind and covered six miles. That was our window to make gains on the rest of the fleet so we have now missed out.

“This race has been lots of things but from the start we have had an uphill battle which we have lost.”

UPDATE: The Clipper Race Committee has shortened the course for Race 11 – the PSP Logistics Panama 100 Cup by introducing a new finish line within the Course Instructions.

This line is perpendicular to the route and is long enough so that it does not adversely affect any team tactics. It is currently (at 1900GMT) 100nm ahead of Henri Lloyd.

The Race Committee has taken this decision after it was advised of maintenance work that is being undertaken on the Panama Canal locks over the coming weeks, the lighter than expected wind strengths on this section of the race and then need to maintain the overall race schedule.

Report by event media.


Skipper reports:
Race tracker:
Race website:

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.

Twelve teams started the 3,350 mile leg from San Francisco, USA to Panama on April 19, and are expected to arrive by May 10.

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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