Clipper Race: Extreme conditions hits fleet
Published on March 9th, 2016
(March 9, 2016; Day 11) – It has been a tumultuous night, with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet experiencing a violent storm which delivered some of the worst conditions of the entire circumnavigation.
Gusting winds of 70 to 80 knots tested the teams’ will, with extended periods at 55 to 60 knots and a very rough, steep sea state, sending gallons of water over the cockpits, making it exceptionally hard to helm a course upwind.
The teams battled to reduce sail plans, with evolutions taking much longer than usual in the wild conditions, but Skippers praising the stoic nature of their crews in the weather, which was much worse than forecast.
Plummeting temperatures in the Yellow Sea – some 200 nautical miles from this Sailing City • Qingdao Cup Race Finish into China – also brought hail, sleet and rain to challenge the crews further.
The wind has now decreased, with speeds of around 20 to 25 knots, but rough sea states are still being reported.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire is leading the fleet again, with Garmin close behind 11 nautical miles away, and LMAX Exchange, which was first yesterday, is now in third 76 nautical miles behind the leader.
In today’s blog Ash Skett, Skipper of Garmin, said words can’t describe the ‘violent and extreme’ conditions that his team sailed through last night.
“There was spray everywhere, gallons of water being thrown over the bow and the deck as the boat crashed into a huge, steep sea. If we had been cruising on almost any other type of boat, we would have been in survival mode. However, as the Clipper 70s are so robust, we were able to continue to race, albeit with a very limited sail plan,” Ash added.
Greg Miller, Skipper of Mission Performance, in fifth place, a former Soldier with vast experience of sailing different vessels in varying conditions, said it was one of his worst days at sea.
“There was Force 8-9 massive short seas and full cloud cover. Falling off of massive waves and crashing sideways into the trough beside it is not very much fun, and the tacking angle we got was absolutely shocking.
“Onwards towards Qingdao in our sturdy steed that will see us through thick and thin, the hard and the easy times. We are back to where we were this time yesterday, so I am not going to enjoy looking at the race positions today!” Greg added.
British sailor, Trudi Bubb, 50, from Crawley, was injured when her team’s yacht, Unicef, fell off a wave during the extreme weather in the Yellow Sea and she suffered a fall below decks in the galley area earlier today. She has a suspected fractured arm.
The team is approximately 120 nautical miles south east of Shanghai and has an ETA of 0100 UTC tomorrow. On arrival into Shanghai, Trudi will be transferred to hospital for x-rays and evaluation of her injury, after which the team will resume racing onto the Race Finish in Qingdao, China.
Race Director Justin Taylor said: “Next of kin have been informed and further updates will be announced as we have them. We wish Trudi a fast and full recovery.”
Unicef relief Skipper Paul Atwood had described the conditions in his blog earlier in the day: “Slamming, driving rain, the steady 50-60 knots breeze peaking at a gust of 92 knots, the air full of horizontal spray, waves filling the cockpit…
“Last night was a tad hectic, very windy, very bouncy and saw us go around in circles as we attempted and succeeded in one evolution after another, each of which take 10 – 15 minutes in the Solent, or Sydney harbour, but which, last night were taking 60 – 90 minutes each.
“Nevertheless we have emerged slightly worse for wear but intact and are making our way north as best we can with the uncooperative wind angle. The sea state has improved a lot although the waves are pretty big and still foam streaked,” Paul added.
With 100 to 400 nautical miles to go until a warm Chinese welcome in Qingdao, China’s Sailing City, who will be victorious?
All positions correct as of 1000UTC.
To see the ETAs into Qingdao, 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 fleet departed on January 18 from Whitsundays, Australia for the two-part 6,985 mile course that stops in Da Nang, Vietnam before restarting on February 27 and continuing to Qingdao, China.
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.