Clipper Race: Now it gets interesting
Published on December 10th, 2017
(December 10, 2017; Day 8) – Following a week of close racing in the Southern Ocean, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race fleet are getting more tactical as the race leaders approach Waypoint Mitchell, south of Tasmania, and prepare to head north to Sydney.
There’s been no change at the top of the leaderboard since yesterday with both of the Chinese teams continuing to lead the pack. Retaining its advantage on the rest of the fleet, Qingdao enjoys its second consecutive day in first place, some thirteen nautical miles ahead of second placed Sanya Serenity Coast.
For Sanya Serenity Coast’s Australian Skipper, Wendy Tuck, approaching the significant race milestone of Waypoint Mitchell is met with mixed feelings, as she says: “The corner [of Tasmania] is getting closer, it will be such a boost to finally hit the home run towards Sydney, the excitement is growing.
“Even though we are looking forward to going north, it’s always a tad sad to be leaving an ocean behind, however there will be enough challenges sailing up along the coasts.”
Visit Seattle holds onto third place despite a challenging day for Skipper Nikki Henderson who, with support from the crew, led repairs to the mainsail after one of the top battens broke. She explains: “The crew hoisted the tri-sail (tiny bullet proof storm mainsail) and we proceeded to sail under it and the Yankee 1 all night in the right direction so it actually didn’t hurt us so much.
“I just have to say how brilliant it was to have such an excellent shore support team. Thank you also Mark (Clipper Race Director) for including Tri-sail training in the Level 4 syllabus – it definitely came in handy that everyone knew exactly how to hoist it.”
Despite little change in the leading positions, places continue to change throughout the rest of the fleet with Unicef now in fourth place, Dare To Lead in fifth and PSP Logistics racing its way up to sixth from ninth place yesterday.
Pleased with progress, PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell says: “We are really putting some pressure on the guys in front now, the team, including the boat, has been working super hard making sure that we get every ounce of speed out of her.”
Dare To Lead Skipper, Dale Smyth, adds: “The weather on the eastern side of the island [Tasmania] is going to be interesting and the race positions are by no means defined at this stage.
“It feels strange to actually be leaving the Southern Ocean, it has been our constant companion since Punta del Este, Uruguay.”
Towards the back of the fleet, racing remains competitive for Garmin, which has slipped down to seventh from fourth yesterday, GREAT Britain in eighth and Liverpool 2018 in ninth. GREAT Britain Skipper Andy Burns reports: “I am encouraging everyone onboard, including myself, to work as hard as we possibly can to make this happen.”
HotelPlanner.com follows in tenth with Nasdaq, which has been struggling to determine which gybe will be most efficient for the Tasman waypoint, in eleventh.
Looking ahead, once teams round Tasmania focus will shift to the Scoring Gate with race points and positions expected to change frequently as tactics amidst the close racing play out up the coast.
According to Simon Rowell, Clipper Race Meteorologist, weather conditions will also begin to change as the fleet rounds Tasmania. He says: “As teams head for the Bass Strait, wind will have dropped off as the middle of the high goes over the fleet. I expect that by Tuesday the fleet will be going upwind, probably all the way to 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