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Clipper Race: Long Awaited Breeze

Published on February 3rd, 2018

(February 3, 2018; Day 4) – And they’re off! Much to the delight of the majority of Clipper Round the World Yacht Race Skippers and their crews, the fourth day of Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race to Sanya, China, has brought about some long-awaited breeze which has allowed the pack to start making some good progress towards its destination.

With the wind speed and direction not mirroring the forecast, teams are currently experiencing much faster conditions, as they enter the Doldrums Corridor, than expected and will now have to think more carefully about which tactics to use.

The upcoming tactical moves are weighing heavily on Sanya Serenity Coast, which remains in first place and holds a ten nautical mile advantage on the fleet, with Skipper Wendy Tuck explaining: “The next big decision will be whether we use the Doldrums Corridor to motor four degrees and 36 hours, this means just an average of six knots or do we just keep sailing, where we may be able to sustain higher speeds, or may end up in a windhole. Will wait for the next weather before we make a decision, much head scratching will be taking place.”

Visit Seattle has worked its way up to second place today and, although the team is further east, it is more-or-less neck and neck distance-wise with third placed PSP Logistics which is keeping the former team on its toes with Skipper Matt Mitchell reporting: “Progress is great at the moment. We lost a bit of ground earlier as I had the guys sail a slightly higher course than those around us meaning we were a little off the pace, however we seem to have sorted that out now and are holding our own.”

Garmin, in fourth place, continues to make steady progress and has been quietly working its way up the leaderboard during Race 7. Skipper Gaetan Thomas reports today that the team is working well and enjoying the faster paced ocean racing.

Having held podium spots for the first four days of racing, Dare To Lead is in fifth place today but is expected to slip down the leaderboard over the coming hours. Following a water maker issue on board ninth placed Liverpool 2018, which poses no immediate problems to crew, and under the guidance of Clipper Race Director Mark Light, the fifth placed team, which is carrying a fleet spare part, is set to rendezvous with the pink boat today.

Speaking from on board Dare To Lead, Skipper Dale Smyth says: “We were happy to break free of the clutches of the windless zone. We are carrying a spare water maker onboard and are needing to stop and wait to give it to Liverpool 2018 as it is having a couple of issues with the current one.

“This is a pity as we are sitting high up in the fleet but our absolute first priority out here is to look after each other and race second. We will rendezvous with them at first light tomorrow and give them the replacement part.”

Nasdaq has also been working its way up the leaderboard and now holds sixth place ahead of Unicef which slipped into seventh place. Qingdao has also struggled to keep its podium place and has dropped from second place yesterday to eighth.

The only two teams yet to join the party in the Doldrums Corridor are in tenth and GREAT Britain in eleventh. Both teams have become separated from the main pack after getting caught in a windhole yesterday and missing out on the stronger breeze. However, as the teams head further north through the Doldrums Corridor, they will be hoping to accelerate away into the stronger winds.

Despite this Skipper Conall Morrison reports, the team morale is high and crew remain focused on the task at hand: “Starboard Watch has done a great job going through evolutions and we now making good speed towards the southern Doldrums Corridor gate.”

Looking ahead, the upcoming decision on whether to utilise the Doldrums Corridor rule will be a difficult one for teams to make but will be a tactically fascinating watch from home. The unexpected stronger wind speeds could offer teams the advantage over a steady six knots of motor-sailing, but the fickle winds of the Solomon Sea could see teams becalmed whilst competition accelerates ahead.

Keep up to date with how the changeable weather conditions over the coming 24 hours will affect the fleet, and the leaderboard, via the Clipper Race Viewer and hear more from the Skippers and crew on the Team Pages.

Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race will finish in Sanya Serenity Marina in Sanya, and the fleet is expected to arrive between February 21 – 25 after roughly 23-27 days at sea. The crews will be excited to explore Sanya and all it has to offer during the stopover.

Event detailsRace factsRace viewerFacebook

Beginning January 30, Race 7 of the 13 stage Clipper 2017-18 Race will see the fleet race 4280nm to Sanya, China. From there teams will race onwards to Qingdao, also in China; across the North Pacific Ocean to Seattle, and through the Panama Canal to New York.

The course to Sanya is expected to take between 23 to 27 days, with the fleet expected to arrive into the Sanya Serenity Marina between February 21 and 25.

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. The race concludes in Liverpool on July 28.

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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