Clipper Race: Too close to call

Published on October 18th, 2017

(October 18, 2017; Day 14) – After 14 days of exhilarating competition, Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race frontrunners Greenings and Dare to Lead are locked in an intense sprint to the Stormhoek Race to the Cape of Storms finish line, which is currently too close to call.

Separated by just a few nautical miles after sailing over 3,500 natuical miles through the South Atlantic, Greenings, which has set the pace the whole way in this race, currently has the edge but has the Dare to Lead team in full view, as a constant reminder that there is no room for error in this final approach.

Greenings Skipper Andy Woodruff is amazed, and excited, how it has come down to the final day, saying: “We find ourselves sailing in sight with Dare to Lead as we converge on Cape Town. For days earlier in the race we were in sight of Garmin, who was pushing hard in the windy stuff, and Dare To Lead was just a virtual competitor on my plotter screen as we never saw them. But now it’s very real.

“I am sure will be a very close finish, possibly within a couple of nautical miles to a couple of boat lengths apart.”

Dare To Lead emerged from Stealth Mode at 18:00 UTC yesterday evening, but failed to make any significant ground on Greenings. Skipper Dale Smyth explains: “We are now out of Stealth Mode, and to be honest, the only ones we were trying to hide from was Greenings and they had us on AIS (Automatic Identification System) the whole time anyhow so not very sneaky.”

With around 130 nautical miles remaining until the finish Line in Cape Town, Dale adds: “We are currently fighting Greenings for the top spot and are literally neck-and-neck with each other. The wind hasn’t really become established because, as the front chases us, we sail ahead of it the whole time, so we have been through every sail in our wardrobe over the last 18 hours!”

But whilst it is currently a two horse race, Greenings Skipper is also well aware of the threat that third placed Garmin poses, with Andy adding: “At this point, Garmin has been in Stealth Mode and could be lurking somewhere nearby too.

“This is yacht racing and it has many variables. We could get stuck in one of Cape Town’s notorious wind holes and watch the chasing fleet sail around us to take the winnings.”

Garmin returned to public view after finishing its 24 hours in Stealth Mode at 06:00 UTC. The team is just 33 nautical miles off the leading pair, and 164 nautical miles from Cape Town, and Skipper Gaëtan Thomas comments: “We are still fighting here as always to do our best. Definitely the boats behind us came back on us as they had the wind before and a bit stronger, and we still looking forward to catch up with Greenings and Dare To Lead.”

Liverpool 2018 is in fourth place, around 200 nautical miles from the finish line. However, with just 29 nautical miles separating Liverpool 2018 from the eighth placed Qingdao, tactics and conditions faced over the next 24 hours will play a huge role in determining the final standings.

Skipper of the fifth placed Visit Seattle, Nikki Henderson, summed up the situation best, saying: “3,500 nautical miles and there are five boats within a few miles of one another – amazing. This is definitely one-design racing.”

Behind the sixth placed Sanya Serenity Coast, are Nasdaq and Qingdao, who were both removed early from Stealth Mode, in line with the Clipper Race Sailing Instructions, after closing to within 250 nautical miles of the finish line. Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “We had a really good run over the past 24 hours though and could gain some miles towards the rest of the fleet. But with our destination so close, it will be incredibly hard to catch them.” continues to have the edge on GREAT Britain, as the two boats fight for the right to finish ninth. Whilst GREAT Britain is unlikely to repeat its efforts of Leg 1, Skipper Andy Burns says: “We find ourselves sitting in tenth place rather than the third place across the line like we managed during Race 1. Have I enjoyed this leg any less? Well, the answer to that is no. The sailing has been phenomenal, touching windspeeds of just below 60 knots and boat speeds in their mid-twenties.

“Life in the Southern Atlantic is cold, yet exciting, and has given me some of the best sailing conditions I have experienced to date.”

Unicef remains in eleventh place and completed its Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint last night, whilst PSP Logistics continues to enjoy favourable conditions, with Skipper Roy Taylor commenting: “We are sailing along under full mainsail and Yankee 1, and are expecting the isobars to get squeezed over the next few days to give us some good sporty winds to carry us a little further towards our chosen destination.”

For the ETA of the twelve teams into Cape Town… click here.

The 12 teams started leg 2/race 2 – the 3,560nm leg from Punta del Este, Uruguay to Cape Town, South Africa – on October 4, and is due to finish between October 19 and 22 and will be berthed at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront until October 31.

Event detailsRace factsRace viewerFacebook

Background: Held biennially, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race got underway August 20 for the fleet of twelve identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. The 40,000nm course is divided into 13 individual races with the team having the best cumulative score winning the Clipper Race Trophy. Each team is led by a professional skipper with an all-amateur crew that signs up for one, some, or all the races. The 2017-18 race, expected to take 11 months, has attracted 712 people representing 41 nationalities, making it the largest to date.

Race RouteRace Schedule and Miles


Source: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

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