Visit Pensacola

Clipper Race: Stepping into the Southern Ocean

Published on November 4th, 2015

(November 4, 2015; Day 4) – After a slow start, Clipper Round the World Yacht Race teams are relieved to be making better direction south towards the notoriously strong currents of the Southern Ocean and the Roaring Forties as they bid to improve progress in the race to Albany, Western Australia.

Spreading out across a wide frontage, Skippers have been reporting 25 knots of wind, providing steadier boat speeds of up to 10 knots as they look to finally put the fickle conditions around Cape Agulhas behind them.

Race leader LMAX Exchange has built a sizeable gain over the rest of the fleet as Skipper Olivier Cardin reports: “The first few days racing have been quite incredible for LMAX Exchange. Since the first two days, we have been doubling our lead every day. We knew that the leading boats would be served first with the wind, but at this point we have enjoyed more than seconds!”

He predicts, however, that his good fortune may not last, adding: “The coming days will not be as happy as the high pressure will overtake us and give us light north-easterly wind. The other boats will always have more wind and will catch up progressively.”

Mission Performance is now in second place as of early this morning after the most northerly positioned team Qingdao, now third, started to dive south to avoid the lighter northern winds.

Despite bringing up the rear of the fleet, Visit Seattle Skipper Huw Fernie is feeling positive, as he reports: “It’s a new dawn and a new day on Visit Seattle. The sun is shining though it can’t take the chill out of the morning and most welcome of all is the wind; strong and from the north east, meaning we are on track and heading towards Australia for the first time since Day 1.

“Spirits are high on board, the lighter winds of the last few days means we are well rested and seasickness is at a minimum despite the regular bouncing. Also we are enjoying the occasional patch of weightlessness as we find a gap in the waves to fall into, then a slam, a surge upwards, probably a ring of the ships bell, and then we push onwards to find another one.”

The most southerly positioned team, ClipperTelemed+, is expecting to cross the 40S line tomorrow morning, which officially marks the start of the Southern Ocean.

Skipper Matt Mitchell says: “The conditions are very different from when I was here last and I suspect a few curve balls are going to be dealt to the fleet over the coming weeks at sea. I for one am looking forward to the big surfing conditions that this remote part of the planet is notorious for. As yet we have only experienced strong headwinds which can at times be most tedious.”

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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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