Clipper Race: Calm After The Storm

Published on November 3rd, 2015

(November 3, 2015; Day 3) – The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet has been struggling to make decent progress in the light conditions, with fickle winds, squalls and the Agulhas current making sail selection a tricky process.

Over the next 24 hours, however, a low pressure gradient that most of the teams are now in is moving east, and it should get replaced by a more consistent north, north easterly wind behind the high pressure system as it moves into the Indian Ocean.

LMAX Exchange is still currently leading the fleet as of 0800UTC, with Qingdao – positioned further inshore – 62.28 nautical miles behind, and Garmin in third, just six nautical miles behind the Chinese entry.

Matt Mitchell, Skipper of ClipperTelemed+, in eleventh position, said it had been a very different day to the previous one when a storm hit the fleet providing very uncomfortable conditions.

“Today saw us sailing in conditions akin to the coveted state of champagne sailing, although minus the champagne, and it was cold, and it was upwind…the sun was out though which bought a smile to everybody’s face.

“The day started off with fairly light winds, however we were making good progress with our largest Yankee, the Yankee 1, full mainsail and the staysail.

“Squally patches developed throughout the morning so just before lunch we changed to the Yankee 2 and, while slightly underpowered between gusts, we kept moving at a decent pace.

“The crew are making the most of the settled conditions and we now have a full complement alive and kicking again. Throughout the night tonight we have been going through some racing trim and the guys have been keen to push the boat to eke out every knot that we can,” Matt added.

Daniel Smith, Skipper of Derry~Londonderry~Doire, in fifth place, described the decreasing winds and the ensuing frustration.

“After choosing our path around the Agulhas bank and heading south east towards Australia, we found the winds decreasing. This became pretty frustrating when we could see from the schedules that boats inshore were making good progress. During our lunch time meeting we found the wind so light we were unable to sail against the ocean current and despite pointing in the right direction we were travelling back towards Rio. The only breeze we got was under the odd cloud that would blow over.

“Mid-afternoon brought another dark cloud with breeze. This time however the wind held from the direction the weather reports were showing. Since then we’ve been sailing along making good progress in light breeze. Mission Performance is just off to starboard keeping our concentration levels up and early indications show the boats inshore have had slightly less wind,” Daniel added.

Will the wind hold steady for the next few days, and what will the tactical decisions be that the fleet takes?

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Background: The 40,000 mile Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race began in London, UK on August 30 for the fleet of twelve identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. The series is divided into 16 individual races, with the team with the best cumulative score winning the Clipper Race Trophy. Each team is led by a professional skipper with an all-amateur crew.

The third leg began October 31 and takes the fleet 4845 nm from Cape Town, South Africa to Albany, Western Australia. The fleet is estimated to finish between November 22 and 26.

The ports along the race route are Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Cape Town, South Africa; Albany, Sydney, Hobart and Airlie Beach, Australia; Da Nang, Vietnam; Qingdao, China; Seattle, USA; Panama; New York, USA; Derry-Londonderry, Ireland; and Den Helder, Netherlands before returning to London by late July.


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