Clipper Race: Dealing with drama

Published on May 3rd, 2018

(May 3, 2018; Day 3) – It has been a day of learning for the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race crews, with the majority of teams dealing with a series of ‘kitemares’ as the fleet entered the waters off California along the course from Seattle to Panama.

Garmin,, Liverpool 2018, Visit Seattle, PSP Logistics, and Nasdaq all suffered spinnaker wraps over the past 24 hours, with some emerging from the misfortune better than others. Whilst PSP Logistics and Nasdaq escaped with only minimal damage to their kites, others weren’t as lucky.

“Last night we managed to behead our Code 3 (heavyweight spinnaker),” explained Visit Seattle Skipper Nikki Henderson. “We just dropped it that tiny bit too late and away it went right along the same tear from the end of the last race. Dawn arrived and we paid the price of the Code 3 accident as Qingdao flew away from us, and the rest of the pack caught up.”

Despite the setback and ground lost, Nikki praised her crews’ efforts, adding: “We recovered pretty quickly though. Kudos to the crew who got the sail down beautifully. Absolute textbook and their first time in the dark.”

The Skippers have been universal in complementing their crews for their swift problem-solving skills, particularly those who just joined for the US Coast-To-Coast Leg 7 in Seattle. Nasdaq Skipper Rob Graham highlighted the hard work put in by his entire team: “Both watches worked together to haul the twisted kite down with the remains of the anti-wrap net, then clear enough of the foredeck to hoist the Yankee. Then we simultaneously prepared a spare main halyard, and brought the mainsail down, swapped halyards and re-hoisted. Oh yes, and there was a gybe in there somewhere as well.”

Meanwhile, it was a drama free day on board Qingdao, which enabled the race leaders to increase their advantage on the second placed Visit Seattle to 17nm, the largest gap of the race so far.

“We had another 24 hours of fast downwind sailing and are getting closer and closer to warmer climes,” Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch. “The only down side of getting further south is the lack of wind and we can feel already how the breeze is softening and our boat speed dropping. But this was expected and Race 10 is well known to be a light wind leg. Luckily, we were able to put some good mileage behind us before the search for wind starts.”

Dare To Lead also enjoyed a successful 24 hours and moved from fifth to third place on the leaderboard. Skipper Dale Smyth says: “We had a fantastic spinnaker run last night and were pushing really hard in about 35 knots of wind with our Code 3 up. We are expecting the wind to lighten a bit over the next 24 hours so we will see how we fare in the light wind lottery.”

Whilst the breeze remains, the fleet is trading gybes and engaged in close match racing, with just 62nm separating first from eleventh. PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell is keeping a close eye on the forecast from Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell, commenting: “The wind should ease considerably over the next day meaning that we are racing against time to get around the corner of California where the wind should fill in again. Fingers crossed we can get a good way south before it shuts down.”

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After starting May 1, 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


Source: Clipper Ventures

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