Clipper Race: Sleepless Toward Seattle

Published on April 16th, 2016

(April 16, 2016; Day 27) – The Emerald City beckons for the remaining Clipper Round the World Yacht Race teams completing the Seattle Pacific Challenge. But with high pressure building over the coast there could be a sleepless night ahead (local time) for the Skippers and crew wanting to make landfall as soon as possible.

Routing and sail plans will be critical where small distances can make big differences in team fortunes in the predicted lighter airs approaching Seattle.

Home team Visit Seattle, sitting in ninth place, 74 nm from the finish line, is 60 nm ahead of PSP Logistics (as at 0700UTC). Normally this would be a safe lead, but in lighter airs towards the finish line anything could happen.

Visit Seattle Skipper Huw Fernie reports: “These last two days have been easier than the rest of the trip, but harder than forecast. Still we are sailing as fast as we can for the finish line, still worried about PSP Logistics, and then to Seattle.

Taking a moment to put the huge scale of crossing the Pacific into perspective, Huw adds: “Although we are finishing towards the back of the fleet in this race it’s a common feeling that the real challenges faced over the past month have come from the oceans rather than the other boats. It’s not since leg one that I have felt such a sense of accomplishment for simply getting to the finish line.

“To come out of all this is to be stronger, as a team, a group of sailors, friends and as individuals we have grown and will carry this experience forever. I think I echo all of the other skippers in acknowledging the incredible performance and sheer determination my team and have shown throughout this race. They are inspirational.

“Lastly a huge thank you to all those who have sent through messages of support, helping us deal with the daily highs and lows, and especially to help when we heard of the loss of our friend Sarah Young. While the adventure might be ours on the oceans, we really couldn’t do it without the support of you all at home. Next stop then is Seattle. Our adopted home, and though (today) it’s not that bad out here, we can’t wait to get there.”

Analysing the final 24 hours of this race, PSP Logistics Skipper Max Stunell says: “It looks like the Seattlites have done enough hold us off this time. The wind angle has meant that we have both been maintaining the same speed and direction so unless they run into a massive wind hole for six hours there is no way we can catch them.

“The crew have worked hard in miserable conditions and deserve a good rest. Everybody is looking forward to Seattle and at this time tomorrow we should have crossed the finish line and be motoring down the Juan de Fuca strait towards a well-earned beer and a shower.”

IchorCoal still has some 437 nm to go to the finish line and is estimated to arrive at Bell Harbour Marina, Pier 66, on Tuesday morning.

For Skipper Darren Ladd these will be his final miles on the Clipper Race as he has decided to stand down in Seattle following the loss of crew mate Sarah Young on this leg.

Darren says: “It’s difficult to describe how you feel once you know you are leaving. The good ship IchorCoal has been my home for more than eight months and over 34000 nautical miles of sailing. The crews have come and gone but their memory is everywhere, in the stories we tell and odd thoughts we have when we are gazing at the horizon.

“We are currently going through a light wind patch with 400+ nm to go. It’s due to pick up in a few hours as we switch back and forth between the Yankee 1 and the wind seeker.

“The kind messages of support are still coming in. Thanks all.”

Da Nang – Viet Nam retired from the race on Day 22 after sustaining damage in a dramatic knockdown. The team is expected to arrive to Seattle on Wednesday.

Skipper Wendo Tuck reports that the team is keeping in good spirits as they play games and entertain themselves on board. On the sailing she adds: “We have had a rather pleasant day sailing today, the sun was out in the morning and it wasn’t quite as cold. It has now clouded over and it is cold again, but we are still sailing and sailing in the correct direction.

“Today was spent fixing a few problems that came up but all sorted now so feel good. We have been playing around with the boat trim and stuff and she is sailing well even if it would be better with a kite, but all is good, trying to get crew as rested as possible.

“And a thank you to the lovely crew member who just put three separate chocolates on my bunk with TLC written on them, I was just mentioning, that in Seattle I will need a little TLC so thank you it has come early.”

There are still some challenging low pressure systems further out but nothing like the sustained high wind speeds experienced earlier this week.

Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell told the remaining racing teams: “The low coming in behind you should reach the mid-30s, and I suspect the cold front will probably stall out west. No doubt there will be some individual large squalls which will have stronger gusts, so your standard constant awareness of what’s going on around you still needs to continue, but no really big sustained stuff is incoming for now.”

So maybe we’re all going to have a few more sleepless nights until the fleet arrivals into Seattle are complete.
Qingdao became the latest team to cross the finish line at 2053 local 15 April (0352 UTC 16 April) and take eighth place.

Praising his crew on their achievement, and taking a moment to reflect on the tragic loss of Sarah Young, Skipper Bob Beggs says: “I would just like to thank the crew of Qingdao for working hard and enduring the awesomely powerful North Pacific Ocean. I say endure because it has been a test of endurance in many ways.

“The loss of Sarah Young is still felt deeply on-board and hardened our resolve to stay safe and get the best we can out of the experience of crossing the world’s mightiest Ocean in all her moods.”
Click here for the latest ETAs into Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina.

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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 fleet departed on March 21 from Qingdao, China for the 6,637 mile course to Seattle, USA and are expected to arrive between April 15 to 20.

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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