Clipper Race: Entering the Final Stretch
Published on April 14th, 2018
(April 14, 2018; Day 22) – With the Mighty North Pacific Ocean relatively calm to what was experienced by the fleet a few days ago, the leading 2017-18 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race teams are relishing the return to full race mode as they enter the final stretch of the 5,600 nautical mile marathon to Seattle, USA.
The phenomenal sea state has settled due to the incoming high and will remain that way for the next few days. With the current conditions moderate to rough and winds between 20 and 30 knots, the top three remains unchanged for a third consecutive day, with Qingdao still holding off Sanya Serenity Coast and Unicef.
Just 15 nautical miles separates first and second, Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck, who’s team is currently on top of the overall race standings, is enjoying the chase, saying: “Surfs are still happening, there has been some sail changes and we know Qingdao is just up in front well over 10 nautical miles and under 20 so we are chasing – nice to be back to race mode.
“This will just get more intense as the boats behind and further south have a nicer angle to come up and join our party, so we are staying focused.”
The third placed Unicef is another 15 nautical miles astern and Skipper Bob Beggs reports: “Following a night of steady progress and decreasing conditions, Unicef has shaken out her wings, all reefs gone and the Yankee 3 replaced by the Yankee 1. We continued all day to make steady progress towards the eastern limit of the 45 degree north virtual beach.”
Race Mode is also back on for HotelPlanner.com and Visit Seattle, after both teams completed much needed repairs to their mast tracks. Following a constructive chat with the Clipper Race Maintenance Team, Skipper of the fifth placed HotelPlanner.com, Conall Morrison, says: “After a morning of tapping, bending, grinding, filing, fitting, more filing and some spray lube, the mast track was back in business. At 1300h local we were pretty much able to go from three reefs to full mainsail and get back on the race pace again.
“I reckon over the 24-hour period that we had the problem we lost about 30 miles to the competition. Which given what happened isn’t so much, hats off to the team for keeping the wheels turning, the boat going in a straight line making headsail changes happen and analyzing the weather info whilst Anna, GG and myself were busy.”
On Visit Seattle, the Skipper was also full of praise of her crew for managing not only the tough conditions, but also carrying out the same tricky repairs. Nikki Henderson comments: “This morning, two hours after dawn, we finally finished repairing the mast track. Just before the storm hit, two sections of the track that our mainsail slides up on ripped out the mast.
“Both sections were about 30cm long and at the height of the second spreader (around 15ft up), which meant we have not been able to fly a mainsail for nearly three days now. Jerome, (world’s most amazing engineer and team player), has spent around 12 hours up the rig in a terrible sea state left over from the storm – not an easy job on land let alone at sea.”
Over the next 24 to 48 hours, the fleet will begin the second chance at bonus points for this race, the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint. With up to three crucial bonus points up for grabs, Garmin Skipper Gaëtan Thomas, whose team has earned four Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint bonus points to date, says: “The wind is still a bit gusty and the sea state a bit big but now we are flying our Code 3 (Heavyweight Spinnaker) and are having a good speed in the right direction.”
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. Conditions in the early part of the race means the boats are now expected between April 19-21.
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