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Clipper Race: The Sprint is On

Published on July 17th, 2016

(July 17, 2016) – The Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race teams have departed Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland for the leg to Den Helder, The Netherlands, knowing all is still to fight for in the battle for the overall podium.

With a maximum of 24 points available for teams, any mistakes in this race to The Netherlands could prove pivotal. Nine points separates current overall leader LMAX Exchange from second placed Derry~Londonderry~Doire, and while eleven points separates the Northern Irish entry from third placed team GREAT Britain, Garmin is lurking only six points behind the podium in fourth.

Ahead of the fleet’s departure Skipper Daniel Smith of home team Derry~Londonderry~Doire said: “There is no greater motivation for this team than the fantastic stopover and support we have had in Derry-Londonderry. We raced hard to win into our home port from New York and narrowly missed out to LMAX Exchange. That hurt. We still have a fighting chance of winning the Clipper 2015-16 Race so now, more than ever we will be giving it our all in these final two races.”

Race 13 got underway at 1800 local time (1700 UTC) under mostly clear skies and flat sea conditions with a building south westerly wind, and was watched by thousands of supporters who gathered at Greencastle, County Donegal.

It was very tight on the start line but Qingdao was first across, just one second ahead of Garmin. LMAX Exchange was third to cross. By the windward mark Derry~Londonderry~Doire had taken the race lead, Garmin was still second and Visit Seattle was third, and as the fleet left Greencastle all teams had their kites up.

Garmin Skipper Ash Skett, whose team started strongly in its quest to take third place in London, said: “We have been closing in on GREAT Britain and a podium spot for several races now. It was disappointing that we allowed the gap to widen slightly in Race 12, but we know that making up six points is a real possibility and the entire Garmin team is up for the challenge.

“We have had six podium finishes in twelve races but have yet to get the top spot so that’s what we are gunning for in the Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge.”

The start followed an emotional departure ceremony and Parade of Sail in front of thousands more spectators who lined the waterfront to bid farewell further down the Foyle River in Derry-Londonderry, where the fleet had been based for the past ten days. The Northern Irish port hosted the Clipper Race for a third consecutive time, and was widely praised for the warm hospitality and level of support shown to its home entry Derry~Londonderry~Doire and all the international race crew, who were the prominent focus of its award winning Foyle Maritime Festival.

The Den Helder North Seas Challenge is a 770 nm sprint which will test Skippers nerves and tactics as they navigate towards the north of the British Isles and then east through the perilous Pentland Firth, which separates the north of Scotland and the Orkney Islands and is known for its extreme tidal conditions. If mistimed, the tidal gate, which can run at 10 to 12 knots, can leave even the most seasoned sailor going backwards or severely disadvantaged.

Once the fleet has cleared Pentland Firth, it will sail into the North Sea and set a south-easterly course towards Den Helder, The Netherlands, where it is expected teams will arrive between July 22 and 23.

As the competition nears its conclusion, Clipper Race Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston commented: “There is so much at stake here that teams are going to be fighting all the way. This is a very exciting time because with two races left there are still many positions to be decided in the overall leaderboard and from a spectator’s point of view this race is going to be brilliant.”

“I am going to be glued to the Race Viewer from now until Den Helder because it’s a short race and all the teams are vying for position. At 770 nautical miles it is longer than the Fastnet but for our crew who are used to far longer ocean crossings, this is a sprint.”

The 40,000 nm, eleven-month Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race will conclude at London’s St Katharine Docks on Saturday, July 30.

Since departing London last August the teams have raced to Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Albany – Western Australia, Sydney, Hobart, The Whitsundays, Da Nang – Vietnam, Qingdao – China, Seattle, Panama, New York and Derry Londonderry.

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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 now on the second leg and is due to arrive in Den Helder, The Netherlands between July 22 and 23. 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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