Clipper Race: Things just got real
Published on April 4th, 2018
(April 4, 2018; Day 12) – The stronger winds and big surfs that the Pacific Ocean is renowned for have finally arrived. The 11 teams in the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race recorded some of their best speeds towards Seattle over the last day and night and are now preparing for their first taste of a North Pacific low-pressure system.
The two leading teams from yesterday are pursuing very different tactics with PSP Logistics maintaining first position having stayed furthest north, whilst Unicef has dropped down the leaderboard having opted for the most southerly route of the teams, away from the rhumb line.
PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell says: “It’s been a fast 24 hours and as the sea state is slowly starting to build, the sign of things to come is becoming apparent as we are starting to get some good surfs off of some of the waves.”
As the winds continue to build, the Skippers and crew are also preparing to batten down the hatches in expectation of the low-pressure system that is coming their way from Japan in a north easterly direction.
HotelPlanner.com Skipper Conall Morrison reports: “So, here we are, the sky’s getting greyer, the temperature dropping, the barometer falling and the familiar sound of water rushing past the hull and cavitating off the rudders as the wind is filling in.
“We have stowed down below as best we can and are getting set for dropping down a gear or two as the front passes. Winds look favourable in the week’s forecast ahead and crew are chomping at the bit to get involved.”
On the racing front, Sanya Serenity Coast has moved up into second place, with a cluster of Clipper Race yachts close behind. “There are quite a few of us on AIS at the moment and it looks like the race is well and truly on for the Scoring Gate,” said Sanya’s Skipper Wendy Tuck. “PSP Logistics is just inching away from us and we have tried everything to rein the team in to no avail, but we seem to be holding our own amongst the others we can see.”
Currently in third, Qingdao has also secured the most Scoring Gate points to date and Skipper Chris Kobusch is focused on the next opportunity to secure bonus points saying: “We are now less than 500 nm away from the Scoring Gate and, as it looks, half the fleet is aiming at it. With everyone being so close together this will be one of the toughest sprints to the Scoring Gate since Liverpool.”
The teams behind are waiting for the winds to fill in but have still been making good progress, with Liverpool 2018 Skipper Lance Shepherd, in ninth place and over 60 nm behind the lead, reporting: “We did 248 miles in the last 24 hours and we’re currently waiting for the wind shift and for it to increase which should speed up our progress albeit a little bumpier.”
Further back, Visit Seattle is battling it out for tenth position with GREAT Britain and Skipper Nikki Henderson remains philosophical.
“We are doing the best with the wind we have,” said Henderson. “Unfortunately, being 150nm behind the fleet means we tend to have different weather and if the wind blows less for us than them there is just nothing we can do except sail as well as we can (hence ‘sail with style’), while we watch them increase their lead on us and sail into the sunrise.”
The expected front should shake things up a bit today with winds gusting up to 50 knots with localised squalls bringing sudden increases and occasional large shifts.
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