Clipper Race: Cold, Grey and Gusty

Published on November 10th, 2015

(November 10, 2015; Day 10) – In the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race leg from South Africa to Australia, LMAX Exchange secured the maximum three points for being first across the Scoring Gate at 1425 UTC yesterday. Derry~Londonderry~Doire picked up two points crossing almost seven hours later, and Qingdao, third, claimed the final point.

Blustery, bouncy conditions have meant surging boat speeds, lots of reefing practice and multiple sail change exercises which at least help to keep the on watch crew warm in the frigid Southern Ocean climes.

Visit Seattle Skipper Huw Fernie, in eleventh place, explains: “As I type the steady 25-ish knots of wind (which is nicely windy but not too crazy) is interrupted by a gust of 44. The gust lasts for a minute, crescendos at 48 knots (which is crazy enough) and then dies away to nothing but a mere 25 again.”

Adding he says: “We’re screaming along down here in the Southern Ocean as the team on Visit Seattle start to get a taste of the cold, grey and gusty conditions this part of the world is famous for. Some like it, many are asking for the sweltering conditions of Leg 1 again and everyone is wondering if they have enough clothes left to keep warm for the rest of the trip. And all this at just 42 degrees south, I can’t wait to see what 44 degrees is going to be like.”

While trailing teams Unicef, Visit Seattle, ClipperTelemed+, PSP Logistics and Da Nang – Viet Nam have been mostly making good speeds under spinnakers, helping them to make up some ground, the mid-fleet teams are still fighting a tight battle between themselves and the three front runners, with incoming weather conditions proving a challenge.

GREAT Britain Skipper Peter Thornton reports: “Rather frustratingly a high pressure ridge has developed right in front of us between the front three teams and ourselves, Mission Performance and Garmin. This has certainly seen those ahead increase their lead as we deal with shifting breeze and try to skirt around it.

“It will also have dissipated before the following pack reach similar positions who are now already in the south westerlies coming in. It is just one of those things that we have to take the hit from, deal with as best as possible and continue.”

Explaining his decision to stay furthest south of the fleet, approximately 15 nautical miles north of the Ice Gate, Garmin Skipper Ash Skett says: “So we did end up heading towards Antarctica for a while yesterday, but it wasn’t to flatten the boat in order to have steak for dinner (although we did and it was beautiful), it was to try to skirt a potential wind hole, putting all our faith in the accuracy of the weather files to try to make gains on those ahead.

“As it stands we are doing more or less the same speeds as our rivals, Mission Performance and GREAT Britain which have headed north to try to get around the top of it. Only time will tell which tactic pays off but whatever happens it was worth a go!”

UPDATE: The Clipper Race Committee has released details of the penalty points allocated to the teams following the second race from Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town. Penalty points are awarded because of damage sustained during racing and are designed to encourage crew to look after and maintain their yachts throughout the race. Details.

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Report by event media.

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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