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Clipper Race: That was then, this is now

Published on December 11th, 2017

(December 11, 2017; Day 9) – After surfing down waves at 20 knots in the Southern Ocean, and rounding Tasmania to head north, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race fleet now faces a patch of light winds which is hindering progress towards the Scoring Gate and the finish in Sydney.

With Qingdao, Sanya Serenity Coast and Garmin in Stealth Mode, Visit Seattle holds first place this morning and on board, Skipper Nikki Henderson is getting to grips with the contrasting conditions: “Life onboard couldn’t be further from what it was a day ago – from 20 knot surfs, big winds, spray, rain and clouds to flat calm seas, bright sunshine, barely any wind (naturally again coming from the wrong direction) and about a million sail changes.”

Whist on board Qingdao, Skipper Chris Kobusch explains why the team chose this moment to activate Stealth Mode: “Previous races have shown that the first few boats get stuck in light or no wind and the rest of the fleet sees them on AIS (Automatic Identification System) or the position reports and then sails around those poor guys.

“So, we thought by going into Stealth Mode we might get stuck (which we did for most of the day), but hopefully everyone else behind us is following us into the light patch of wind. Sanya Serenity Coast seemed to have a similar idea and was off the radar shortly after us.”

Unicef is in second place this morning with PSP Logistics in third and Dare To Lead just two nautical miles behind in fourth. Tactics remain at the forefront of the Skippers’ minds with PSP Logistics Skipper, Matt Mitchell, saying: “There could be more tactical decisions coming up as we decide how to play the last few hundred miles.”

Dale Smyth, Skipper of Dare To Lead, adds: “It’s going to be very tricky working clear of this windless area and then an upwind slog to Sydney so the game is far from over.”

In fifth place is GREAT Britain and following in sixth place after rounding Waypoint Mitchell. Conall Morrison, Skipper of, talks about the shift in mindset on board as the team claws up the miles towards the Scoring Gate: “With Waypoint Mitchell out of the way, the focus on board is getting to Sydney.”

On board Liverpool 2018, currently in seventh place, the crew is welcoming the change in conditions and using the calmer sea state to its advantage as they recover from a busy eighth day of racing.

On board Nasdaq, currently in eighth, the team continues to work hard to make up some miles on the fleet despite spending some time dealing with a rip in its Code 2 (mediumweight spinnaker) and Skipper Rob Graham commented: “The big lesson learned today is that when stuff happens, you have to find a way to deal with it.”

Looking ahead, the Scoring Gate will offer the next opportunity for teams to score extra race points and it will be interesting to watch which teams decide to head for the Scoring Gate and which decide to press on towards Sydney in hope of reaching some stronger winds which are forecast to help boost them through the Bass Strait.

The leaders are expected to finish by December 15. To see the ETA … click here.

Event detailsRace factsRace viewerFacebook

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.

Race RouteRace Schedule and Miles


Source: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

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