Clipper Race: Forward to the past
Published on April 10th, 2018
(April 10, 2018; Day 18) – The 11 teams ticked off another significant race milestone in the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race when they crossed the International Date Line, with the fleet now sailing west of the prime meridian and having the rare opportunity to live the same day (Monday April 9) twice.
After re-adjusting the onboard clocks, however, it is leading to much confusion as Nasdaq Skipper Rob Graham, whose team is currently in seventh place, reports: “We’ve made it back to the future! Or forward to the past! Or something like that!
“Yes, we crossed the International Date Line into ‘Groundhog Day’ and guess what? … Half the crew are still trying to work out what time of which day it is. Still, it doesn’t matter, it’s a nice day, the sun is shining and we’re going quickly in the right direction.”
On board leading team Sanya Serenity Coast, which currently holds a 50 nm advantage over second placed Qingdao, Skipper Wendy Tuck explains how double birthday celebrations were in order. She says: “We crossed the International Date Line last night with much fanfare and we decided that crew member Michael Davis is allowed two birthdays and as such, he received two birthday cards.”
However, eighth placed Garmin will be looking forward to seeing the back of April 9, as both days (Day 17 and Day 18) brought with them some unfortunate spinnaker situations. Skipper Gaetan Thomas explains: “So, after the kitemare we had yesterday, we were sailing under the Code 2 (medium weight spinnaker) and just a couple of hours later, the crew called me with a following call for all hands on deck, one of the donuts (which is a strop holding the spinnaker on its head) snapped, resulting of the spinnaker in the water.
“Luckily, we got it back safely and it’s still intact.”
With the International Date Line crossed, the next hurdle for the fleet, which is still remarkably compressed after 3,000 nm of racing and has converged yet again just south of the rhumb line, will be a physical one in the form of the biggest low pressure system of the race so far, due to pass over the fleet in the coming 24 hours.
With gusts of over 50 knots expected, the teams have a healthy respect for the weather system heading its way and whilst it will be fascinating to watch how the different team tactics play out, focus is likely to shift away from full-power racing during the heavy weather.
Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck, who has previously skippered a Clipper Race team across North Pacific, knows all too well about getting the balance right between pushing hard and knowing when to hold back. She says: “We could have gone faster last night but it was the old trade off of risk versus speed, and we are playing the long game.
“In the next 24-30 hours, we will have our first big blow of the North Pacific, it will be good to have the first one done and dusted. We are ready, now just have to stay out of a wind hole before it arrives and not cross 45 degrees, which is our virtual beach.”
GREAT Britain Skipper David Hartshorn is also no stranger to the North Pacific and adds: “Having been this way before, I fully respect the weather a North Pacific low can bring, so treading lightly and with large respect is the order of the next few days.”
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