Clipper Race: Sizzling finish in Sydney
Published on December 15th, 2017
(December 15, 2017; Day 13) – Sanya Serenity Coast claimed victory today in a thrilling finale to Race 4: The ClipperTelemed+ Tasman Test, the first stage of the All-Australian Leg of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race.
It was one of the tightest ever Clipper Race finishes into Sydney, which saw the top three teams finish with an hour and half of each other after 12 days racing around 2500 nautical miles from Fremantle, Western Australia, past the South of Tasmania and a hard slog upwind towards the Sydney Heads.
Qingdao, Sanya Serenity Coast and Visit Seattle had been in the top half of the fleet since Day 3 of the race and occupied the podium positions since Day 8. Ultimately, it was Sanya Serenity Coast who claimed line honours after crossing the finish line first at 08:21:18 local Australian Eastern Standard Time (21:21:18 UTC). Just 17 minutes later Visit Seattle crossed the line in second at 08:38:03 (21:38:03 UTC) and then Qingdao in third at 09:43:06 (22:43:06 UTC)
Victorious skipper, Wendy Tuck, said: “It was the most nerve-racking race of my life. The lead changed so much, it was such a competitive race so it feels amazing to get the win. Especially with all my family and friends here watching.”
Nikki Henderson, skipper of second placed Visit Seattle, reported: “It was really good fun. It was really hard work but it was nice to have some inshore racing and it is a really good feeling to get a podium. If you have to come second to someone, then I’m pretty happy for it to be Wendy.”
All three teams further boosted their overall race points tally by also accumulating points at the Scoring Gate, which Qingdao crossed first, followed by Visit Seattle and Sanya Serenity Coast, and also in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, which Sanya Serenity Coast won by just thirteen seconds over Visit Seattle with Qingdao just three minutes and three seconds further behind.
With its third place finish, Qingdao will remain first in the overall Clipper Race standings, after claiming four bonus points in Race 4. Skipper Chris Kobusch, on arrival into Sydney, said: “We had a good run around Tasmania and then we sailed into another wind hole. The rest of the fleet started catching up and we were then in a battle with Sanya Serenity Coast and Visit Seattle up the east coast of Australia. On the last day they managed to overtake us, we had one really bad tack and they got us but well done to them. But we are really stoked to get a podium here in Sydney.”
While life is good for the finishers, today is proving pretty unlucky for the six teams still racing as un-forecasted windholes provide frustration in the final 100 nautical miles of this race.
Unicef is expected to be next to join the teams at the CYCA in Rushcutters Bay. However, with only 50nm left to the finish, Skipper Bob Beggs reports: “SOS save our souls, we need wind to sail in for Christmas. Yes the weather forecast has been optimistic, offering 15 knots of wind from the south giving code one (lightweight spinnaker) angles with the promise of arriving this evening for beer and showers, but the forecast didn’t pan out!
“Instead we have been going through our sail wardrobe to keep inching forward and just occasionally a little backwards in the adverse current.”
Garmin is in seventh with 90 nm to go and has been experiencing a similarly frustrating time with the windholes requiring an abundance of sail changes meaning the crew and Skipper are really being put through their paces to reach the end goal.
The battle between Liverpool 2018, Nasdaq and GREAT Britain continues to be intense with their race positions changing regularly as less than three miles currently separates them.
Skipper Rob Graham on board Nasdaq, which was eighth just an hour again and is now in tenth, says: “So close … and so little wind! We’re stuck in a wind hole less than 100nm from our finish line, drifting aimlessly on the current whilst our sails flap in still air. GREAT Britain, Garmin, Liverpool 2018 and Hotelplanner.com are all close by and doing the same.
“On Nasdaq we’re making best use of the time by ticking a few more items off the jobs list, but it is incredibly frustrating to sit here waiting for wind and rolling in the swell.”
GREAT Britain Skipper Andy Burns says there are two less than ideal options facing the team, as he explains: “Option number one is to sail south away from a massive predicted windhole but away from Sydney, option number two is to sail directly towards a predicted windhole which is forecast to be there for Friday and Saturday unless we get some local weather effects.
“I’m leaving this decision to the crew and grabbing some shut eye after a busy night of changing sails.”
Only 10nm behind this group, Hotelplanner.com, in eleventh, is striving to make gains in the final stages as the wind fills in, perhaps temporarily, at the back.
Skipper Conall Morrison reports: “A busy 24 hours on Hoteplanner.com. From 18 knot Spinnaker surfs last night to 0.0 knots in a wind hole at local midday, to a respectable 7.5 knots in the right direction just now. We look forward to having a beer with the winners when we arrive, unfortunately a Northerly wind and another wind hole may delay us that little bit more…”
The second of the three stages that comprise the All-Australian Leg will see the fleet compete in the iconic Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which begins on Boxing Day (December 26) 2017. This will be the third time that the Clipper 70s have joined this blue water classic with its spectacular start in view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the fleet will have already covered over 17,000 of the race’s 40,000 nautical mile route since Race Start in Liverpool on August 20.
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.
The first of three races started December 2 for the 2500nm course from Fremantle to Sydney.
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