Clipper Race: Unrelenting Conditions

Published on November 13th, 2015

(November 13, 2015; Day 13) – A fast moving weather front brought wind from all angles and strengths with 60 knot gusts resulting in a busy day of sail manoeuvres as Clipper Round the World Yacht Race teams were forced to go to exhaustive lengths to deal with Mother Nature’s latest offering.

GREAT Britain Skipper Peter Thornton, still in fourth place, reports: “The last 24 hours have seen the wind go from south westerly Force 8 to south westerly Force 1, to westerly Force 2 to 3, to north easterly Force 4, to north eastern Force 8, gusting 9-10 in rain squalls as the front passed over to north westerly Force 8, gusting 9 to south westerly Force 8, which is where we are now. I think.

“It’s been a nonstop sail change and reefing in and out mission for about 18 hours. The crew watches roll through and we just deal with whatever Mother Nature throws at us.”

Teams are currently steaming along in around 20 knots of breeze, under blue sky, though still very cold temperatures at 43 degrees south in the Southern Ocean.

The leaderboard has seen little change. LMAX Exchange is still first, with Derry~Londonderry~Doire second and Qingdao third. GREAT Britain, Mission Performance, Garmin and IchorCoal follow. In descending order, the rear pack is made up of Da Nang – Viet Nam, ClipperTelemed+, PSP Logistics, Visit Seattle and Unicef.

Whilst progress is very good and crew morale is being reported as high, the unrelenting conditions are no doubt proving exhausting, with half the race still remaining.

Mission Performance Skipper Greg Miller explains: “When you can hear the wind roaring up on deck, it takes a lot to get yourself up the companionway steps, clipped on and ready to do the job at hand, especially when the spray is blowing back down into the galley and hits you before you even venture your head out of the hatch!

“Physically, with all the wind and extra loads on both the sails and the helm, it is much more demanding. So as Skipper I have to take all of this into consideration and ensure that the crew are not burnt out before we even get half-way to Australia.”

The good news for the exhausted crew and skippers is that they should now get some respite. Friday 13th is so far bringing clear skies and good breeze and there is a gap of two to three days before the next front is likely. The front is currently forming along a band stretching from the Kerguelen Islands towards the south tip of Madagascar and is due in 48 to 60 hours’ time.

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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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