Clipper Race: Doldrums Duels

Published on January 23rd, 2016

(January 23, 2016; Race 7, Day 4) – The teams are trying everything to keep their boats moving as they negotiate the light, shifty winds of the Doldrums and its associated rain squalls in the Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race, Race 7 of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Westerly team Derry~Londonderry~Doire is now in pole position with a narrow lead over GREAT Britain in second, and Garmin 10 nautical miles behind it after several changes at the front yesterday.

As the fleet passes the Solomon Islands, progress is slow with Derry~Londonderry~Doire making 3 knots in around 3 knots of wind and sweltering heat.

Despite the slow speeds, there are some battles going on, as Bob Beggs, Skipper of sixth-placed Qingdao – on the east side of the race track – describes.

“We are in still in company with LMAX Exchange, duelling from wind hole to wind hole, trying to find our own personal wind clouds to propel us forward off each other,” said Bob.
“This is great racing and looking at the other Skippers’ blogs, most of the yachts in the fleet are sparring with each other. LMAX Exchange is ahead of us slowly climbing out of a wind hole as we prepare to drop our spinnaker in favour of our Yankee.

“I’m sure we will trade places several times during the next 48 hours as random parking lots appear and then vanish. The watch leaders and crew on Qingdao are doing a great job in focusing on boat speed and trim, trying different combinations to get through the Doldrums in a good position,” Bob added.

Paul Atwood, Skipper of Unicef, in ninth, said his team had also been enjoying some close sailing. “We have been tussling up and down the standings with IchorCoal, Da Nang – Viet Nam and PSP Logistics. A very large and dark squall cloud approaching us last night led to the decision to protect the lightweight spinnaker by dropping it, in the end this may have been overly cautious but there’s a long way to go.

“Last night was a spectacular night of almost perfect sailing, bright full moon, smooth seas, about 10 knots apparent wind speed, stars galore – just great. We continue to make progress, so all’s good,” Paul continued.

With 3,270 nautical miles to go, how will tactics play out in the Doldrums over the coming days?

All positions correct as of 0900 UTC.

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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 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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