Clipper Race: One more night at sea

Published on January 15th, 2018

(January 15, 2018; Day 10) – Dramatic weather systems that have dominated much of Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race continue to make conditions challenging for the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race fleet. Whilst the fleet is enjoying some long-awaited downwind weather conditions, it had to endure another ‘Southerly Buster’ weather front first, which brought winds of up to 78 knots, electrical activity and squally downpours.

Visit Seattle managed to use these conditions to its advantage and has began a drag race during what should be the final 24 hours of the race. However, Skipper Nikki Henderson, who is no stranger to fighting for first place right up to the finish line, knows that anything can still happen: “So, we have arranged another close one for all you supporters. This last bit is SO nerve racking. Constantly looking over our shoulder and hoping we don’t make any mistakes. Let’s hope it works out.”

In second place is Liverpool 2018. After an impressive consecutive three-day lead, the pink boat is only two and a half a nautical miles behind the leader and the crew will be pushing hard to try and achieve its best leaderboard finish to date. Speaking from on board Liverpool 2018 Skipper Lance Shepherd says: “Being stuck in a storm for 90 minutes meant that all the other boats were able to catch us up and now we are in the drag race with PSP Logistics, Visit Seattle and of course, Sanya Serenity Coast.”

The drag race at the front of the fleet also includes PSP Logistics which has done remarkably well to claw back from eleventh place during the early days of the race to third. Speaking from on board Skipper Matt Mitchell thinks the team could see more progress during the final 24 hours: “Now we are making good speed, not quite directly where we want to go but a forecast favourable wind shift later on should solve matters there.”

Sanya Serenity Coast sits currently in fourth place and Skipper Wendy Tuck has been impressed by her competition, reporting: “It was fast and furious, but we weren’t the fastest. We are now playing catch up again with Visit Seattle.”

Elsewhere, there has been further changes to the leaderboard with Garmin gaining a place and sitting in fifth place, with Qingdao now in sixth and Dare To Lead in seventh.

For Garmin, which played its Joker during Race 6, this is an all-important gain. Skipper Gaetan Thomas says: “Now we are zig zagging in between reefs and islands for the last round, the leaders had the southerly winds before us and finally they passed ahead, but it is not over!”

Change continues further down the fleet with Unicef, which was in seventh yesterday, in eighth place today and GREAT Britain, which was in fifth yesterday, now sitting in ninth place. Despite its fall on the leaderboard, the GREAT Britain crew remains on top form and Skipper Andy Burns praised his team’s ability to handle the tough Southerly Buster fronts.

There has been no change at the back of the fleet, however, with Nasdaq and in tenth and eleventh place for the third consecutive day.

According to Clipper Race Meteorologist, Simon Rowell, the fleet should continue to keep spectators guessing right up to the finish line and with localised squalls coming off the hot land, there could still be changes to the Race 6 leaderboard. Whilst it’s difficult to predict which teams will secure podium finishes just yet, its guaranteed to be a close, exiting and nerve-wracking finish in the Wondrous Whitsundays.

For the estimated finish times… click here.

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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 the slow pace now delaying the teams from their initial forecasted finish of 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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