Clipper Race: The test begins

Published on April 5th, 2018

(April 5, 2018; Day 13) – Speed records for Race 9 of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race tumbled for a second successive day as the fleet made fantastic progress over the last 24 hours on their easterly course across the Pacific. With the next course target being the Scoring Gate, less than 200 nautical miles away, each of the eleven teams made well in excess of 100 nm in the last 12 hours towards their destination, Seattle.

After a challenging weather front hit the fleet, as expected, with a tricky wind shift, PSP Logistics retains the lead having opted for the most northerly route. Skipper Matt Mitchell reports: “We’ve been going really well all night and day with some big surfing giving us great distance. The crew are relishing the first tough conditions that we’ve had this race and although looking forward to it easing a bit, there are smiles all round.”

The conditions have certainly tested the Skippers and crew who have coped well. Garmin has moved up the leaderboard just over 10 nm behind PSP Logistics as Skipper Gaëtan Thomas reports: “We wanted wind and we definitely have it! Blowing between 45 and 55 knots since this morning. Last night we had the front passing over us with its 90 degrees wind shift.

“We are constantly surfing around 22-26 knots and the sea state is getting bigger and bigger so I’m really busy on deck.”

Dare To Lead is also close to the front two teams and Skipper Dale Smyth has been enjoying the fast speeds: “We now feel like we are making progress although it is very cold and soaking wet on deck. Our new Leggers’ eyes were getting wider and wider last night with the spinnaker up and I think this is a case of them finally realising what they signed up for. All well on the rocket ship Dare To Lead.”

Further south, Qingdao keeps hold of third position. Despite ripping its heavyweight spinnaker, this can be repaired and Skipper Chris Kobush remains focused on gaining some bonus points: “Hopefully the rest of the fleet didn’t gain too much on us. With less than 200nm to the Scoring Gate it will become harder and harder to make up lost miles.”

Even further south is Unicef and Skipper Bob Beggs reports: “The mighty Pacific Ocean is now delivering what most of the crew were expecting or signed up for. The phrase ‘you should be careful what you wish for’ springs to mind. So, we are going like a steam train on the downhill section with whoops and cheers emanating from the helms as personal bests keep tumbling.”

Further back in the fleet, Nasdaq has slipped to eighth position but all of the crew are getting to helm in the challenging conditions and plummeting temperatures, which have led to more Henri Lloyd drysuits appearing on deck. Skipper Rob Graham explains: “The crew are split between Reds (foulies) and Yellows (drysuits) so I’m back to playing ‘Connect 4’ as they line up on deck. It’s great fun – I even scored a yellow ‘Connect 5’ this morning with Port Watch.”

Liverpool 2018 remains in ninth position and Visit Seattle has pulled away from GREAT Britain to be firmly in tenth position but the teams at the back continue to make good speed with GREAT Britain Skipper David Hartshorn reporting: “Life is back on the tilt, with the sound of water rushing across the deck and the occasional whoosh created by the cavitating effect, as the GREAT Britain boat still reaches speeds of 13kts + SOG (Speed Over Ground).

“The crew move spider-like, grabbing onto hand holds, that if the boat wasn’t heeled over you wouldn’t know were there or even designed for such use. So even though this is a relatively small taster of the North Pacific, after the last 12 days it is the beginning of the challenge quite a few of the GREAT Britain crew signed up for.”

As the low-pressure system moves away from the fleet the next little high-pressure cell, effectively a ridge between this low and the next, should follow the teams and they should see a gradual backing and easing of the wind today.

Event detailsRace factsRace viewerFacebook

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.

Race RouteRace Schedule and Miles


Source: Clipper Ventures

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