Clipper Race: Tactics Pay Dividends

Published on May 2nd, 2018

(May 2, 2018; Day 2) – There’s been an early win for the 2017-18 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race teams that opted to stay inshore after yesterday’s Le Mans start to the 4,100 nautical mile Race 10: The Garmin American Challenge from Seattle to Panama.

After choosing to head south down the rhumb line under spinnaker, Qingdao remains in first place and Skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “So far we’ve had a good run and it seems staying inshore was the right decision, though the whole fleet is still pretty close together and the race has just started. We just have to hope that the northerly breeze stays with us for long enough to sail away from the light winds that follow.”

A mere 50 nautical miles is all that currently separates the fleet after 48 hours of racing and second placed Visit Seattle is making the most of the close proximity of other teams, as Skipper Nikki Henderson explains: “It got dark a few hours ago and we have seven lights around us with Qingdao providing us with a good helming target right up in front (thanks Chris and team). We are trying to catch them, but as per usual, they are sailing brilliantly. There is a lot of miles to cover, so right now we are just soaking up the fact that we have decent wind in anticipation of the looming wind hole in a few days’ time.”

The majority of the teams that chose to head offshore gybed closer to the rhumb line overnight, with Sanya Serenity Coast, Dare To Lead, and all climbing in the rankings as a result. Skipper Conall Morrison comments: “Last night, we were close to Nasdaq gaining a bit, then they pulled away and then gained a bit. However, they gybed inshore later than us and possibly did well. Now we find ourselves close to Sanya Serenity Coast. The breeze is building and we are hoping for fast surfs overnight.”

Nasdaq, Unicef, and GREAT Britain remain the most easterly placed teams and are making the most of the good winds while they last. Nasdaq Skipper Rob Graham says: “Our favourable winds continue – the kite is still flying and with a couple of gybes, we are getting south quickly. Nasdaq has already left Washington behind, is making short work of Oregon, and will soon be into California, albeit 100 nautical miles (nm) offshore.”

The teams are working hard to get as far down the coast of the Golden State as they can before the lighter winds arrive. Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell reports the current strong gusts are set to ease over the next 24 hours, though rising winds do await off the coast of Baja California in Mexico, just in time for the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.

As well as providing some thrilling racing, the US Coast-To-Coast Leg 7, which is made up of two races, Race 10 from Seattle to Panama and Race 11 from Panama to New York, will also enable the Clipper Race crew to take part in some pioneering scientific research. Visit Seattle has been fitted with a special sensor for Leg 7, which will monitor the effects of ocean acidification around the US Coast. Read more about the project here.

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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.

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Source: Clipper Ventures

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