Harken Derm

Clipper Race: Finding the Path Forward

Published on June 27th, 2016

(June 27, 2016; Day 7) – A wind hole at the centre of the North Atlantic High could engulf the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet today, with weather reports and tactics being analysed carefully on day 7 of The LegendDerry Finale.

The winds started lightening considerably yesterday, and boat speeds are low today in the fluky airs at around the halfway mark of the race to Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

ClipperTelemed+ is now leading the fleet again, with former race leader Derry~Londonderry~Doire in second and LMAX Exchange in third after coming out of Stealth Mode as it attempted to bluff the other teams regarding going for the Scoring Gate.

Garmin, which also came out of Stealth Mode yesterday and didn’t go for the Scoring Gate either, is in seventh position, one place below its big rival GREAT Britain.

Matt Mitchell, Skipper of ClipperTelemed+, the most northerly yacht and in slightly stronger breeze, described the last 24 hours on board in the North Atlantic Ocean as he grappled to get in the best position to avoid the lightest airs.

“It’s been a bit of a tense day wondering if we are going to avoid the clutches of the ridge of high pressure due to form over the fleet. Not making it far enough along the race course could spell disaster as we would be sitting in light and fluky airs for well over 24 hours before starting to move again.

“We have managed to keep moving all day but are by no means out of danger yet. The wind is doing all the right things at the moment – veering towards the west is a sign that we are to the north of it as well as increasing slightly so there is a glimmer of hope. The barometer has risen a little though which is a concern.

“The next few hours will make the situation clearer. Fingers crossed at this time tomorrow we’ll be sailing at twelve knots towards Derry-Londonderry,” Matt added. The team will enter Stealth Mode at 18:00 UTC today, concealing its position from the rest of the fleet for 24 hours.

LMAX Exchange Skipper Olivier Cardin stated his intention to gybe north as the wind veered to attempt to escape the centre of the high and the lightest winds. On the Race Viewer this morning, that gybe had taken place with the team closely following Derry~Londonderry~Doire’s own move north.

Bob Beggs, Skipper of Qingdao, in tenth place, was optimistic about progress once he had passed the worst of the ridge.

“We are now entering the extending ridge coming out of the Azores High. We hope the rest of the fleet is also under the same influence and slowing down. Our Nobletec weather routing software encourages us to pop into the ice box to escape the light winds, this would of course lead to disqualification and possible ice so we will give that option a miss.

“So we should all be battling our way through the light airs at the moment this hopefully will bring a shakeup of the fleet time will tell, but there is always one escape artist.

“Once on the other side of the ridge, progress to Derry-Londonderry will hopefully continue at a fast pace,” Bob added.

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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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