Clipper Cup: Sayonara and kon’nichiwa
Published on April 2nd, 2018
(April 2, 2018; Day 10) – The Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race fleet compress yet again in what felt like the third on-the-water race restart for the eleven Skippers and their teams as they converged on the final mandatory gate before Seattle, Gate Haller.
This milestone moment of the race has not only marked the last sighting of land before Seattle but has signified a new window of opportunity for the Clipper Race fleet to make bigger, bolder tactical race decisions as they head offshore from Japan.
Up until this point, the race has been one of cat and mouse with little opportunity for big tactical decisions but, over the last 24 hours, the fleet has split into three groups; the first and biggest group is trying to sail as close to the rhumb line as possible; the second group, including Sanya Serenity Coast, Garmin and Joker-playing Liverpool 2018, gybed and headed north in search of stronger winds, but has started to re-join the first group; and the last two boats, GREAT Britain and Visit Seattle, suffered at the mercy of a wind hole over Gate Haller which has significantly impacted on progress.
Visit Seattle Skipper Nikki Henderson says: “The weather didn’t exactly do what was forecast and we ended up in northerly winds and no current… and then no wind.
“Unfortunately, ten days of pretty good moves and great sailing came down to one important decision and I completely messed it up. So now we enter the Pacific Ocean in last place and we have some major catching up to do.”
Garmin, which lost some significant ground to Liverpool 2018 and Sanya Serenity Coast, will also be looking to claw back some miles as it maintains the boldest move so far by sticking to the most northerly route of the fleet.
Despite this, there have been only slight changes to the leaderboard over the last 24 hours with just twelve nautical miles separating the top three teams, still led by Unicef.
With the newly-found freedom of the Pacific Ocean to open up bigger tactical opportunities for the fleet, the coming days could prove to hold some pivotal moments and big decision making which could lead to some big leaderboard changes.
PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell comments: “That’s much more like it! We can now get stuck into this race properly with good wind forecast – more or less – for the foreseeable future.
“Already there has been some different strategies played out among the fleet which will need some time to see how they each play out.”
According to Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell, the fleet should expect to have slightly unsettled weather for the coming 48 hours as weather systems head off the coast of Japan but, looking ahead, there appears to be some classic Pacific weather systems falling into place and teams will need to think carefully about routing to ensure they make the best of the low-pressure systems.
Beginning March 24, the Clipper Race fleet left Qingdao, China for the 5,500 nm leg across the North Pacific Ocean to Seattle, USA. After approximately 24-29 days, the fleet is set to arrive into Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina between April 14-19.
It will be the second consecutive stopover in the West Coast USA city, with the Clipper Race previously visiting during the 2015-16 edition.
Following the Seattle stopover, the fleet will depart again on April 29 to race over 6,000 nm from Seattle to Panama during the first of two races that forms The US Coast-To-Coast Leg 7. From there, the teams will race on to New York, Derry-Londonderry, and then to the finish in Liverpool, UK.
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