Clipper Race: Baptism of fire

Published on June 22nd, 2016

(June 22, 2016; Day 2) – The luxury of New York is now a fading memory after a wind shift in the Atlantic Ocean delivered an early challenge for the fleet competing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Team focus and concentration is being put to the test in fruity conditions as an exhausting number of spinnaker drops, hoists and peels have been required to keep up with the changing weather and try to stay with the pack.

In his blog today Olivier Cardin, the Skipper of now third place LMAX Exchange, reports what happened as he says: “After easy sailing from the race start, the Atlantic Ocean gave us his first low with the front associated. It came in the morning with a black scary massive cloud coming to us from behind.

“We all expected strong wind inside and adapted our sail plan for that. In fact, there was only rain and lighter wind. The strong wind came just after as the sky was less cloudy. We now sail under white sails with 30 plus knots of wind in a difficult sea state.”

Many of the fleet suffered unfortunate kite and spinnaker mishaps in the changeable conditions and difficult sea state yesterday. As the fleet remains tightly packed, with just 17 NM separating the top ten teams, which remain split on a wide north to south heading, this has meant that leaderboard positions are changing all the time.

Homeward bound team Derry~Londonderry~Doire has taken the lead and now has almost 10NM lead over second place Garmin, which has climbed positions despite having some challenges yesterday, and LMAX Exchangewhich is less than half a mile behind in third.

Skipper Daniel Smith reports: “Towards the end of the night spinnakers popped up on the other Clipper 70s and we lost a few miles not getting ours up first. After light I sat on the rail wondering whether to swap our medium weight spinnaker for the heavyweight. I then watched the closest yacht flog theirs and it explode into tatters so we quickly swapped ours over. The swaps continued throughout the morning until the wind finally settled this afternoon and remained windy.

“We raced side by side other yachts equally matched until a mistake or a rip would cause their spinnaker to come down. In our local group we held ours for longest finally dropping it when a sheet failed. We are now back under white sails reaching towards the ice marks. Top speeds and averages so far have been good.”

Mission Performance is now fourth after ripping its medium weight kite, with GREAT Britain fifth. Qingdao is in a much improved sixth position after clawing all the way back from twelfth place and 15NM behind the entire fleet yesterday. Da Nang – Viet Nam has dropped to seventh place after a kite wrap, and IchorCoal is eighth at the time of reporting.

ClipperTelemed+, in ninth, has selected the most southerly position of the fleet, hoping its course will pay off in the long run.Unicef and PSP Logisticshave dropped to tenth and eleventh place after also suffering a couple of unfortunate kite mishaps while racing each other for the podium positions yesterday, and Visit Seattle is twelfth.

Huw Fernie, Skipper of twelfth place Visit Seattle which is approximately 30NM behind the leader, is refusing to feel grumpy about his team’s position at the back of the fleet. In his report today he states positively: “It’s been a great start to the race and we’re really ticking off the miles out here, so far it looks like the next couple of days will bring more of the same, there is a little more wind coming and that could see the fleet separate a little depending on how we all deal with it.

“So for now we keep chasing back those 10 nautical miles or so from earlier and try not to lose any more as we settle into the offshore routine that will carry us all the way to Northern Ireland.”

Despite these early challenges, the miles continue to fall away as the fleet continues its eventful drag race to the Scoring Gate, knowing that it is all very much still to play for but that the smallest of mistakes can cost dearly.

What challenges will the Atlantic Ocean throw up next, and will the weather systems benefit the north or southerly positioned teams?

The Clipper Race fleet is due to arrive in Derry Londonderry, Northern Ireland between July 7 to 11.

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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 is now racing from New York to London, starting the transatlantic crossing on June 20. The 4,894mi course includes three legs: New York, USA to Derry Londonderry, Northern Ireland; Derry Londonderry to Den Helder, The Netherlands; and Den Helder to London, UK. The Clipper Race fleet is due to arrive in Derry Londonderry, Northern Ireland between July 7 to 11. The global circuit concludes on July 30.

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

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