Clipper Race: Upwind split off Sydney

Published on January 9th, 2018

(January 9, 2018; Day 4) – Sanya Serenity Coast retains its lead during the fourth day of Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race as mixed conditions splits the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race fleet into two, as it progresses up the coast of Australia. Racing remains close though with 32 nautical miles separating the top eight positions.

Leading Skipper, Wendy Tuck, is heading up the western-most pack near the rhumb line and reports that: “The team are still working like troopers with reefs going in and out. We are in that holding pattern of waiting for the wind to come from behind again, but at the moment it’s still a bash upwind.

“That’s what is so delightful about sailing up the east coast of Australia is the weather thrown at you will normally include a bit of everything.”

Also in the pack to the west is second-placed Visit Seattle and fourth-placed Liverpool 2018, with both skippers reporting gusts of up to 40 knots leading to lots of sail changes. Further back in the western pack is Qingdao, currently in seventh position.

Meanwhile, leading the pack to the east, but currently in third place on the leaderboard, Garmin Skipper, Gaëtan Thomas, is also reporting tough upwind conditions: “Here we go, back upwind! Climbing walls or using a trapeze to get in our bunks, sailing on angles towards our destination! Early this morning we had around 40 knots of wind in a choppy sea – changing the foresail was quite a sport, let’s say we took a bath!”

Not far behind him in fifth place is Dare To Lead and Skipper Dale Smyth has explained that it has been another tough, tactical 24 hours with the team looking forward to some downwind sailing: “We are unfortunately fighting some strong current also as we head north but are where we are so need to make the most of it. We are expecting some southerlies tonight so that will be welcome to be running downwind for a while.”

Nasdaq is currently in sixth position, with Skipper Rob Graham looking forward to getting past the latitude of Sydney so that the team will be covering new water rather than retracing previous course, while GREAT Britain is not far behind (but in eighth position due to the split in the fleet).

Further back in the fleet, and furthest out east, is ninth-placed PSP Logistics and Skipper Matt Mitchell reports: “It’s been another pretty frustrating 24 hours on the whole, with little glimmers of less frustration. Winds have been very up and down and rather disappointingly our progress against the fleet has been average at best.

“We are working hard to change things although I think it’s more about waiting for an opportunity to present itself and sailing the boat well rather than try anything fancy at this stage.”

Unicef has reappeared from Stealth Mode in tenth position just behind PSP Logistics and the team has experienced light winds overnight, which has tested the helms’ sailing skills.

In eleventh position, has been kept busy with a variety of wind conditions and Skipper Conall Morrison explains: “There has been much more action in the 24 hours since with lots of sails up and down and reefs in and out. We’ve had 0 knots up to 40 knots apparent and back down to about 7 knots at the moment.”

It looks like the changeable conditions are set to continue with Clipper Race Meteorologist, Simon Rowell, predicting a weather front to catch up with the fleet shortly with teams having to choose the best tactics to match the conditions.

Race Director Mark Light has provided an update that no penalty points were issued for equipment damage for Race 3, Race 4 or Race 5 and commended the Skippers and crew on the way that they are looking after the boats. There has also been a low level of costs associated with sail damage with only Visit Seattle receiving two penalty points for sail damage and repair after breaking through the £500 running total in Sydney.

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.

The third and final stage of the All-Australian Leg 4 began January 5 from Hobart to Airlie Beach with teams expected to finish by January 13 to 15. Their next start will be January 29 whee they will take a course for the Chinese Host Ports of Sanya and Qingdao, which completes Leg 5: The Asia-Pacific Leg.

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.

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