Clipper Race: Feeling the Heat
Published on May 14th, 2016
(May 14, 2016; Day 15) – On a frustratingly hot, calm Friday 13th for most of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet, Visit Seattle has smashed the Ocean Sprint record for Race 10: The PSP Logistics Panama Cup, completing the run in 10 hours, 1 minute, over four hours faster than yesterday’s record holder IchorCoal.
Holding on to this record would result in Visit Seattle not only claiming its first Ocean Sprint win, but also its first bonus points of the entire Clipper Race so far. The team, which had taken the most westerly route of the fleet, is currently in Stealth Mode, and its position will remain hidden until midday UTC today.
Skipper Huw Fernie is not celebrating prematurely however. He reports: “So we’re in Stealth Mode which was initially to cover our progress in the Ocean Sprint, but we were almost done by the time it kicked in anyway. That was pretty good and a nice way to keep the boat moving well overnight. We’ll see what the others can do, especially long term sprint enemy Mission Performance who have pushed us into second place twice previously.”
Adding, Huw says: “Obviously if you don’t know where we are then it’s no problem to say we’ve found a little favourable current as well. It’s not particularly strong but I think it’s making up for the adverse current we were in the other day.”
Mission Performance, PSP Logistics, Da Nang – Viet Nam, GREAT Britain, and Garmin have all commenced their Ocean Sprints, though light winds and flat calm seas are making frustratingly slow progress in increasingly sweltering conditions.
Garmin Skipper Ash Skett, who has made the tactical move to head inshore on the most coastal route, is remaining hopeful about the Sprint: “It’s been a very slow day for us and we have battled to make any kind of significant progress in extremely light winds. We have lost a lot of ground on the leaders and now the mission is damage control.
“With that in mind, we may try to take a run for the Ocean Sprint, but to do that we will need wind first, with Visit Seattle setting a tough time of 10 hours to beat. So for now we head due east until the wind builds a bit later, then it is straight south in a bid to recover some points.”
As the battle for the Sprint plays out today, the lead pack is fighting for line honours over a series of finish gates.
LMAX Exchange took the lead yesterday afternoon, though ClipperTelemed+ and Unicef are both just 7 nautical miles behind, with less than a mile separating the respectfully second and third placed teams at the time of reporting.
ClipperTelemed+ Skipper Matt Mitchell says: “So we have just recently crossed the Acapulco gate, we are unsure as to our position as yet. It’s been hard work getting there as over the last few hours the wind has dropped significantly and also veered to the east, which means that it is right on the nose and our course has suffered ever since.
“The forecast suggests the wind filling in a bit later as we make our way further south, however, it will still be coming from a most inconvenient direction. Our next task is to get to the second finish gate in good time before some of the other boats who are slightly differently positioned start to gain an advantage.”
Whilst the teams are still in the Pacific Ocean, the appearance of the banana yellow coloured Henri Lloyd drysuits of the last race are now a distance memory as crew now shed their layers in the oppressive heat, and welcome the chance for a refreshing wave soaking.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire Skipper Dan Smith in fourth, details the conditions, which have been heating up steadily as the fleet passes along the Mexican coastline: “Today has been hot and I think it is probably a sign of things to come with the wind easing and clear skies forecast. The team are doing the best to keep cool but unfortunately below is hot and sweaty and although the fresh air above deck is welcome, the deck is baking hot and the sun is roasting.
“Last night the wind came round onto the nose and we have been under white sail since close hauled heading towards finish line 1 and then 2. So far the wind has held but as I write this it is dying away to almost zero. I just hope we have got more wind than those boats ahead and just inshore of us.”
The four potential finish lines have been set up in order to allow the fleet to meet its strict Panama Canal transit schedule in the prolonged light, Doldrum-esque winds which are a strong feature in this area.
The next finish line is just under 200 nautical miles away from the lead three teams. If at any point the race is called short due to the slow progress of the fleet, the final race positions will be taken from the order over the last finish line they cross, rather than distance to Panama. Click here to read Race Director Justin Taylor’s explanation, which all teams were briefed on in Seattle.
*All positions correct as of 0900 UTC
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 current race began in Seattle on April 30 at 0320 UTC (April 29 at 2020 local time) and will take the teams along the 4208 nm course to Panama.
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.
Source: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race