Clipper Race: Riding the Gravy Train

Published on June 23rd, 2016

(June 23, 2016; Day 3) – It has been another thrilling day for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in the Atlantic as 30 to 50 knot winds, plus an added push from the Gulf Stream, create truly exhilarating sailing conditions, epic surfs and impressive average speeds of 15 knots, stripping away the miles in this race to Derry-Londonderry.

Unicef Skipper Martin Clough, in sixth position, paints an exciting picture of the experience on board as he reports: “Unicef had its fastest 12 hours yesterday clocking 29 knots plus on one surf. Very exciting sailing, similar in challenge to breaking in a horse in a rodeo. The helm just needed to be wearing a cowboy hat and boots!”

Derry~Londonderry~Doire has retained its race lead of approximately 10NM but just one nautical mile separates second place Garmin, third place ClipperTelemed+ (which has seen its southerly position pay off and has climbed seven positions since yesterday) LMAX Exchange in fourth, and GREAT Britain in fifth, meaning positions are changing frequently at the top.

Garmin Skipper Ash Skett explains the conditions of the past 24 hours in more detail as he reports: “The miles are flying by as Garmin powers towards the mid-Atlantic. We worked our way south under white sails the previous evening and today we have been making the most of big breeze over 40 knots from a great angle to surf on the moderate swells.

“The conditions make for an absolutely thrilling ride, spume and spray produced in great quantities on both beams as our good ship charges through the lumpy sea.”

The fleet has spread out further over the past 24 hours, with 60NM now separating first to twelfth place. Still split on a wide north to south range of positions, it is the boats in the southern half of the fleet which have appeared to have made the most of the Gulf Stream, estimated to have added an additional 3 to 5 knots of boat speed for teams.

Unicef is 27.92NM behind the leader(sixth) after climbing back following its kite mishaps yesterday, Da Nang – Viet Nam is seventh (36.48NM), Qingdaois eighth (45.97NM), Mission Performance (49.65) is ninth, IchorCoal is tenth (51.7NM), PSP Logistics is eleventh (59.48NM), and Visit Seattle is still twelfth, 61.8NM behind the leader.

Bob Beggs, Skipper of Qingdao, is one of the more northerly positioned teams. His report today praises his team’s excellent progress but notes: “The high speeds did not deliver good placement in the fleet however, I suspect the guys to the south were either able to hold their kite’s for longer or took greater benefit from the current. The pack is still reasonably tight at the moment, and we are moving to position ourselves for the next low pressure system due in 36 hours or so.”

Regardless of their position in the fleet, teams have all been reporting top speeds and record runs, and are now more than half way in their sprint to the Scoring Gate, before heading north towards Northern Ireland.

Max Stunell, Skipper of PSP Logistics says: “We have seen a steady 35 – 45 knots all day with a moderate sea developing. At times the boat has been completely awash and our recorded top speed of 27.2 knots. We have also done our longest six hour run from sched to sched of 88NM which we were happy with even though some teams have bettered that.

“The wind has now reduced some and we all continue to make similar progress due east towards the ice limit with everything to play for.”

Also Mission Performance Skipper Greg Miller may have dropped five positions, from fourth to ninth, but still reported a record mileage sailed over 24 hours of 298 nm VMG (Velocity Made Good) in the right direction.

The strong winds have died down slightly today but will be back again before long as Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell has given the following prediction to the fleet:

“The next low, expected over you sometime on Friday, is looking to be quite punchy. There will be consistent gale force winds with gusts just before the front of up to 60 knots – however, this will be quite a narrow band and I reckon that if you carry on making good progress this really strong bit will go behind you then north east. However fast you go you’ll still probably see 50 knots gusts however.”

*All positions correct 1000 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 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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