Clipper Race: Fleet powers across Bass Strait
Published on December 29th, 2015
(December 29, 2015) – The 2015-16 Clipper Around the World Yacht Race fleet continues to make good progress towards Hobart achieving decent speeds Tuesday morning local time across Bass Strait after some teams struggled in light winds close to the south east Australian coast.
However progress over the next 24 hours down the east coast of Tasmania will depend on whether the teams suffer the shadow of the island from continuing westerlies or winds veer back from the north during this Sydney to Hobart race.
Wendo Tuck has continued to keep Da Nang – Viet Nam ahead of the rest of the fleet but it is still very tight and tactics will now be critical.
“Things are looking good at the moment. We are sailing well, the boat is moving fast and everyone is happy. No one happier than me,” Wendo reported.
ClipperTelemed+ has had a good run after escaping the lighter airs. Skipper Matt Mitchell described their good fortune: “The wind started to fill in from the north west in the early hours of the morning. We had a blasting kite run but are now storming along under our largest white sails in a stiff breeze from the west.
He added: “We are really pushing for the finish and the crew and I are all gunning for a much better finishing position than we have had in the last couple of races. Having other boats around helps keep the crew motivated and spirits are high as we push our boat to the limit.”
Currently on top of the overall leaderboard, LMAX Exchange has had mixed fortunes on this race, dropping to below two knots at one stage. “After heavy weather, there was no wind. In the south-east corner of Australia, the wind began to ease,” explained skipper Olivier Cardin.
“We were still beating to Tasmania. Two options were available, offshore or the Bass Strait to avoid the centre of a high pressure system. We chose the Bass Strait.
“Unfortunately, the wind disappeared while it was backing, so it was impossible to tack to escape this. We were stuck for quite a few hours, and the Clipper Race position report showed us in last position for a period of time.”
It subsequently broke free and made ground on the rest of the fleet and were up to third place by 2300 UTC 28 December.
GREAT Britain is holding onto second as we write this having made up ground on Da Nang Viet Nam. Skipper Pete Thornton said: “Well we’ve managed to get across Bass Strait again, this time she was challenging in a much different manner. The light winds and large current swirls made for a nervous time trying to pick a best route down and let alone trying to follow it! I’m not sure we really found the best current that was available but I can’t complain as we did ok.”
But he ended on a cautionary note: “It’s super tight racing and it’s not ‘plain’ sailing to Hobart yet.”
And that is the situation for all of the fleet, especially the front runners.
Comanche, Ragamuffin 100 and Rambler have now taken podium line honours in the 71st Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. After more than a quarter of the starters have retired the Clipper Race fleet is putting in a credible performance against the remaining 77 competitors.
Da Nang – Viet Nam is showing in 20th place on the official RSHYR Line Honours standings as at 2300 UTC 28 Dec.
Comanche’s Skipper Ken Read summed it up dockside after bringing his wounded supermaxi across the line in Hobart: “This is a hard race. I have sailed around the world two and a half times and I thought I had seen it all but this is one hard body of water.”
Meanwhile, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Navigator on Clipper Ventures 10, is experiencing mixed emotions.
He stands in 41st position behind around half of the Clipper 70 fleet in the overall line honours official RSHYR standings, having come close to Garmin at one point in the last day, but is now behind that team.
Clipper Ventures 5, the other Clipper 68 yacht entered, is in 47th position in overall line honours.
The yachts are expected to arrive into Hobart in daylight tomorrow morning subject to the fickle wind conditions in the Derwent River in the final approaches.
ETAs will be posted to the Clipper Race website. All positions correct as of 1000 AEDT.
For the overall RSHYR rankings, click here.
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 fourth race began December 1 and takes the fleet on three legs within Australia: Albany to Sydney, Sydney to Hobart, Hobart to Whitsundays… a total of 5,105 miles.
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.