Clipper Race: Horses on the track

Published on May 1st, 2018

Seattle, WA (May 1, 2018) – The Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race fleet had a successful Le Mans start off the northwest coast of the USA, and although the fleet remains close together, a split has already emerged with one group heading directly south under spinnaker, whilst the other group is headed further offshore under white sails.

Race 10: The Garmin American Challenge, which extends from Seattle to Panama, is expected to take approximately 23 to 26 days, with the fleet to arrive between May 23 and 27. The brief stopover will feature one of the highlights of the Clipper 2017-18 Race – the Panama Canal – which see the teams bid farewell to the Pacific Ocean and re-enter the Atlantic Ocean ahead of the final three races of the circumnavigation.​

Visit Seattle is closely grouped with PSP Logistics, Qingdao, and Garmin, with all four boats hugging the rhumb line. Though little separates the teams at this stage, Skipper Nikki Henderson is pleased with her team’s start: “Initially the fleet split into two main camps with four of us hoisting our spinnakers and heading south, and the other seven heading southwest under white sails. The wind has now veered to the north-northwest and I would imagine everyone is now flying their Code 2 (Mediumweight Spinnaker) or Code 3 (Heavyweight Spinnaker).

“It’s amazing how quickly we fan out and disappear out of view – we have already lost a few boats – just a few white/green/red lights swaying around us.”

Qingdao, which is coming off the high of winning the race across the North Pacific Ocean, is currently in first place, and Skipper Chris Kobusch is also happy with what he has seen from his team in the early stages of the race: “The team worked well together, got the Staysail and Yankee 1 up quickly and we therefore had a good start into Race 10. Once the ten minutes were up, which restrict each team from changing course and sail plan, we got the spinnaker out of its bag and shortly after we were flying along at around 12 knots boat speed on course to the first waypoint.”

GREAT Britain and Unicef are the most easterly of all the eleven teams, with both hoping the early tactical decision will pay off. GREAT Britain Skipper Dave Hartshorn reports: “We are currently the windward side of the boats, who at the time of writing, are currently still on white sails, heading slightly west of south. While another few boats appear to be heading more directly south under kites.

“This is clearly based on the interpretation of what the high pressure currently influencing our wind will do over the next couple of days. So, it will be interesting to see who has got it right. At this moment we are making good speed, about 11 knots, with the full main, stay sail, and Yankee 1 on a fine reach.”

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Race 10: The Garmin American Challenge, which extends from Seattle to Panama, is expected to take approximately 23 to 26 days, with the fleet to arrive between May 23 and 27. The brief stopover will feature one of the highlights of the Clipper 2017-18 Race – the Panama Canal – which see the teams bid farewell to the Pacific Ocean and re-enter the Atlantic Ocean ahead of the final three races of the circumnavigation.​

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

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Source: Clipper Ventures

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