Clipper Race: A Tactical Conundrum
Published on July 3rd, 2016
(July 3, 2016; Day 13) – Rounding Tory Island is causing a conundrum for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race teams as changeable winds lead to a variation in tactics which, after the first three boats, is already mixing up positions and allowing the chasing pack to make crucial ground.
At 0800 UTC fourth and fifth placed GREAT Britain and Unicef are currently on the approach to the island off the Donegal coast, where the wind forced them to continue to the north-west corner of Tory, before making a last minute gybe south to make the waypoint.
Meanwhile Garmin, approximately 36 nautical miles behind in sixth, has already dived south and looks to be approaching the Tory Island waypoint directly from the west. Whose tactics will pay off remains to be seen.
“We’re closing on Tory Island but the wind direction has meant that it’s is not just a simple, straight course to round it,” reports GREAT Britain Skipper Peter Thornton.
“With the wind becoming slightly more westerly as forecast, both Unicef and ourselves have in turn been bent north more than the leading three and will be gybing to a much greater extent to make the island. This will unfortunately put a greater time and distance between us but hopefully, the knock on effect will continue for those behind. However, the winds are still forecast to drop off with a period of calm as we head up to Rockall. This could be a game changer,” he warns in his daily blog.
The wind shifts around Tory Island are keeping it tight at the top with ClipperTelemed+ and LMAX Exchange staying close to Race 12 leader, Derry~Londonderry~Doire, which with 493 nautical miles to go, is now just 15NM and 18NM ahead of them respectively. The rest of the fleet which were over 100NM behind the leader 12 hours ago have also pulled back over 20NM.
After passing Tory Island during the night, ClipperTelemed+ Skipper Matt Mitchell, currently second in the LegenDerry Finale says: “So we have finally made it around Tory Island after putting in quite a few gybes as the wind backed more westerly. We were quite close to the island which loomed impressively out of the dark. It would have been quite a sight during the day I’m sure.
“We are right on the breeze again making life particularly uncomfortable, the heelometer is currently saying 40 degrees, which is probably the same angle as a slide. It certainly feels that way that’s for sure. Thankfully the wind is set to ease over the next 12 hours or so and it should be only 30 hours or so until we are able to bear away off of this particularly ungentlemanly point of sail,” he added.
The strong westerly winds which the eastern teams have been experiencing will soon, if they haven’t already, be replaced by much less predictable conditions, meaning it is once again ‘head out of boat’ time, as nicknamed by Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell.
The squally weather conditions, as reported by Da Nang – Viet Nam Skipper Wendy Tuck are keeping the teams alert as they work hard to maintain their course and speed, while being ready to drop and hoist sails according to the ever-changing conditions.
This hasn’t stopped a few kite casualties with Qingdao and Unicef both reporting that the sail repair teams are hard at work below deck.
Greg Miller, Skipper of Mission Performance, currently in ninth place, says the unpredictable weather makes it tricky when deciding the best course or tactics. “With less than 400NM to our first turning point of Tory Island off the north-west coast of Ireland we are keeping a keen weather eye outside to use the shifts and puffs that are due to come our way in the next 24 – 48 hours.
“The barometer which measures barometric pressure in the surrounding area has been up and down like a yo-yo. This is quite significant because we rely heavily on the barometer to tell us what part of a weather system we are in, if we are going from low pressure to high pressure, and a quick change in the barometer indicates change in the weather.
“We are currently expecting the barometer to rise as this ridge of high pressure flows over us, and then a fall would indicate that the high pressure has passed and we should expect some more wind. However, it has been rising and falling all day!” Greg wrote in his daily blog.
Ten teams have completed the Ocean Sprint since Derry~Londonderry~Doire set an impressive time of 8 hours 28 minutes. So far, no one has been able to match that, however IchorCoal will be aiming to add two more bonus points to the three it took at the Scoring Gate.
Stay tuned to the Race Viewer to follow all the action as the teams head onwards towards Rockall, the next course mark.
The majority of the fleet is still estimated to arrive in Derry-Londonderry on Wednesday 6 July. Click here to see the latest ETAs.
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