Clipper Race: Sprinting to Sanya
Published on February 15th, 2018
(February 15, 2018; Day 16) – It has been an eventful night for many of the teams in the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race but the leader, Qingdao, appears to have escaped the drama as it begins the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint in the final stretch to Sanya in China.
Leading the fleet for the third consecutive day, Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “We are back to downwind sailing with the spinnakers up. Flat boat, open hatches, on route to the way point equals a happy crew. Once we start sprinting again the total mileage to Sanya will be less than 1200 nautical miles.”
Further north, and maintaining second place, is Sanya Serenity Coast and Skipper Wendy Tuck is looking ahead to the next challenge after a busy night of sailing: “We are back under kite and trucking along again, our direction at the moment is not too good – typical sailing, not going where you want to go to get where you want to go. We will start our Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint later tonight, but it doesn’t look too good as we will hit a very big light patch, just for something different.”
Even further north is PSP Logistics, in third, and Unicef, in fourth, where the teams have had overcast weather. PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell is relieved conditions are starting to settle after a wet and wild ride 24 hours, saying: “The clouds are clearing off and there’s even a patch or two of blue sky. This does mean that speed is a little lower, although we are still making a respectable eleven knots.”
Further south, Dare To Lead Skipper Dale Smyth, in fifth, has been reflecting on a ‘broachy’ night and Liverpool 2018 Skipper Lance Shepherd, nearby in sixth, describes how the spinnakers have been up and down like a yoyo: “We have a very wet and tired crew, but they all assure me they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. However, I suspect if I offered them a helicopter, a double flat bed, a flushing loo, a steak dinner and a bottle of red, loyalties may be tested.”
Still leading the chasing pack is seventh-placed Visit Seattle and Skipper Nikki Henderson describes a dramatic night on board: “The night was laden with squalls, rain, and we were sailing in complete darkness. I really hate nights without starlight or moonlight. Anyway – to cut a long story short – despite some brilliant sailing by both watches, awesome helming, trimming – almost flawless honestly – Ariel (our Code 2 medium-weight spinnaker) was clearly feeling tired … like she wanted a break.”
She adds: “There has not been a moan or a grumble from anyone since we called ‘all hands-on deck’ last night. This team is really quite exceptional – just absolutely everyone is pulling their weight and prepared to stick their neck out for their teammates.”
It has also been an eventful night due to squalls for HotelPlanner.com and Garmin, in eighth and ninth respectively, and the latter’s Skipper Gaëtan Thomas has described a bad day at the office: “How many things happened since 24 hours? I am not sure anymore to be able to count how many issues we had!”
Nasdaq Skipper Rob Graham, in tenth, has also had a dramatic night, explaining: “We have certainly had a few dramas to shake up the routine pattern of life on board. We had a couple of unscheduled kite-drops during the night – one for a huge gusty rain squall and another for a wrap.”
Back in eleventh, GREAT Britain has been experiencing steadier weather conditions and, despite an issue with one of its spinnakers, Skipper David Hartshorn reports the team is performing well with boat speeds approaching 20 knots: “The crew have been doing excellent helming under the Code 3 (heavyweight spinnaker) on a broad reach in wind speeds in excess of 35 knots.”
According to Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell though, it looks like the teams can expect rather shifty and unsteady breeze as they enter the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.
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