Clipper Race: The Tasmania Turn
Published on December 9th, 2017
(December 9, 2017; Day 7) – As the close racing continues in the Southern Ocean, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race leaderboard positions continue to change with Qingdao retaking the lead on day seven of the The ClipperTelemed+ Tasman Test.
With less than 20 nautical miles separating the top three teams, the next 24 hours are set to be just as thrilling as the fleet converges on the race mark at the south of Tasmania before heading north to Sydney.
This follows an excitingly close Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint conclusion yesterday, which saw Sanya Serenity Coast, Visit Seattle and Qingdao claim the bonus points with less than four minutes between their elapsed times.
But today it is Qingdao which takes the lead though the team is highly aware of how close the racing is with Skipper Chris Kobusch reporting: “Since the team sailed into first position everyone is keen to stay there and every time I come on deck, or someone comes to the nav station, the first question is: where is Sanya Serenity Coast? How far are they away?
“It is really exciting racing with all the boats so close together. It is still a long way to go and the slightest mistake can cost you a position or more.”
Currently in second place, Sanya Serenity Coast has been enjoying the fast and furious downwind sailing conditions. Skipper Wendy Tuck said: “We came down south and its windy and fun. This breeze will start easing over the next 24 hours so we are making the most of the surfing, everyone is getting a go on the wheel of fortune and lots of new top speeds are happening.”
Visit Seattle, currently in third having opted for the most southerly route of the podium teams, is already looking ahead to Sydney. But with the race mark to the south of Tasmania signalling that time in the Southern Ocean is nearly over, Skipper Nikki Henderson reflects: “So, the exciting news though is that we ARE nearly at the south of Tasmania. Around a day or so and we will be turning left and turning north. It’s so crazy to think that this is the last Southern Ocean sailing we will be doing. Even stranger to think we will be heading north!“
On board fourth placed Garmin, Skipper Gaetan Thomas is also thinking about the tactics of rounding the southerly mark and the remaining decisions to be made as they route heads north to Sydney saying: “Zigzagging towards Tasmania for our next waypoint called ‘Mitchell’ were things tactically will be very interesting, lots of currents, an option for scoring gate and some light winds to avoid.”
Positions are tight and continue to vary with Unicef slipping to fifth place with GREAT Britain, which moved into sixth, closely crossing its path. Unicef Skipper Bob Beggs said: “The race tempo is exciting with all the yachts cross-tacking each other, one such meeting was with GREAT Britain a couple of hours ago it was good to talk with skipper Andy although he wasn’t keen to share his tactics with me as he headed south trying to reach waypoint Michell south of Tasmania before me.”
Dare To Lead has enjoyed another fast night towards Tasmania moving up to seventh position and managing to keep PSP Logistics, currently ninth, and Liverpool 2018, tenth, at bay. Skipper Dale Smyth said: “Another good fast night towards Tasmania, still trying to decide which gybe is best.
“We hoisted our spinnaker this morning as we are having a little tussle with Liverpool 2018 and had a couple of fast hours. We eventually ran out of space with our ice limit of 45 degrees south and had to gybe north once more.”
PSP Logistics has also been enjoying the fast spinnaker sailing conditions benefiting from a wind shift which, for skipper Matt Mitchell, came as a relief as it meant that PSP Logistics could now point exactly where he wants to go: “We continue to chip away the miles to the guys ahead and we are starting to make good gains…finally!
“With just over 24 hours to the corner it really feels like the fleet has bunched up again meaning it’s still wide open for the section up to Sydney.”
After a tough night with strong gusting winds, HotelPlanner.com choose a more northerly route to avoid some of the strongest winds but in turn sacrificed some leaderboard positions slipping from sixth to eighth place. However, Skipper Conall Morrison is hopeful that the team today will have good conditions and nice speeds back under spinnaker.
For Nasdaq, currently in eleventh place, thoughts have also turned to Tasmania after reaching the milestone of around 1000 nautical miles to go until Sydney.
Simon Rowell, Clipper Race Meteorologist and weather guru, reports that as fleet converges to Tasmania, the conditions are looking good to get around quickly. He added that it is looking very tactical from there on in with what looks to be a very close upwind finish in Sydney.
The fourth stage of the Clipper 2017-18 Race, officially known as Race 4: The Clipper Telemed+ Tasman Test, includes three races along the Australian coast. The 11 teams will race from Fremantle to Sydney, Sydney to Hobart, and Hobart to Airlie Beach in the heart of the picturesque Whitsunday Islands.
After starting the first of three races on December 2, the 11 teams are expected to complete the 2500nm course between December 14 and 17.
The All-Australian Leg is the fourth of eight legs that make up the 40,000-nautical mile, eleven-month Clipper 2017-18 Race.
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.
* Twelve teams began the first leg but one yacht (Greenings) ran aground just hours after the start on October 31 of the third leg from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle, Australia. The crew was safely evacuated but damage to the boat was deemed too extensive for it to continue in the 2017-18 edition.
Source: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race