Clipper Race: Riding the trades to Sanya
Published on February 13th, 2018
(February 13, 2018; Day 14) – Following another successful day under spinnakers, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race fleet continues to eat away at the miles and make good progress towards Sanya. Thanks to the stable north easterly wind, the fleet has sustained consistently high boat speeds with less than 75 nautical miles separating the top six teams.
At the top of the leaderboard, Qingdao claimed back the lead from PSP Logistics which sits in third place today. Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “We are still flying along under spinnaker and are getting closer to the start of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint. Just over two days before we start sprinting again. Fingers crossed for some decent winds then!”
It has been a good day for second placed Sanya Serenity Coast which has managed to maintain both its boat speed and position. Skipper Wendy Tuck said: “We are now counting down the miles to the top of the Philippines, which is where our next waypoint is, and I imagine we will be converging with a fair amount of the fleet for the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.”
For Matt Mitchell, Skipper of PSP Logistics, currently in third place, it was a frustrating day: “We got caught by a few squalls last night that seemed to suck the wind out of the whole area making us a bit slower than our nearest competitors. Beyond annoying as this is now nothing but a drag race at least until the top of the Philippines.”
The next obstacle for the fleet to focus on is the upcoming Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint. On board fourth placed Dare To Lead, preparations have already begun and Skipper Dale Smyth explains: “We are currently running competitions between watches for distance records in training for our Ocean sprint. We are hoping that the wind holds for us is over Luzon and down towards China.”
The fear of another wind hole is also on the mind of Liverpool 2018. Skipper Lance Shepherd says: “We are bobbing along at eleven knots heading towards China, the crew are all helming well and the rotations are working well.
“However, it’s not going to be that easy for long, as always there is a nice wind hole forming. What tactics will people go for? Higher, lower, will we all park up and the boats behind skirt round us? Will it dissipate before we get there?”
Despite matching the distance covered in twelve hours to those of the frontrunners, Unicef has slipped to sixth place on the leaderboard but remains in the leading pack.
Heading up the chasing pack, Visit Seattle has moved into seventh place. Skipper Nikki Henderson says: “We are still chugging along nicely in the right direction. We picked up some current this morning so speed has increased to match the guys up north now, who are well into the North Equatorial Current.
“Unfortunately, with the leaders 160nm away, catching them feels like an ambition to far right now. I guess that’s the price we paid by going to the Scoring Gate.”
For Garmin, which also made the decision to go for the bonus points that the Scoring Gate had on offer, and sacrificing its position on the leaderboard with a southerly routing, the fight for positions still remains in full swing. With further points on offer during the upcoming Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, thoughts have turned to maximising its decision.
Garmin Skipper Gaetan Thomas reports: “The heat and humidity still challenging, but we are still fighting to get some positions back and with a bit of fortune making some points in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint. This time hopefully will be a sprint and not a slow down as the last few… less than 800nm to it!”
For HotelPlanner.com, in ninth place, GREAT Britain, in tenth, and Nasdaq, in eleventh, progress continues at a steady rate. With both HotelPlanner.com and GREAT Britain skippers, Conall Morrison and David Hartshorn, are waiting on a change in the apparent wind angle to switch up to a bigger spinnaker and gain a valuable extra knot of boat speed.
Nasdaq Skipper Rob Graham reports: “Nasdaq has been happily trucking along under spinnaker and recording double-digit hourly runs through settled trade wind conditions.”
Clipper Race weather guru Simon Rowell reports that the stable, fast conditions are set to remain the same for the fleet and satellite images show that there’s still a fair amount of upward motion around, meaning the fleet should keep expecting squalls.
He also forecasts that the breeze should gradually veer over the next day or so as the high moves east, and there will be a period of lighter and more variable winds before the next batch of the north easterlies arrive.
Beginning January 30, Race 7 of the 13 stage Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race has the fleet racing 4280nm from Whitsunday Islands in Australia 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.
Source: Clipper Ventures