Clipper Race: Doing the Baja slide

Published on May 7th, 2018

(May 7, 2018; Day 7) – With steady weather conditions across the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race fleet, there has been no change on the leaderboard and with just 60 nautical miles separating the sprinting teams, the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint looks to be a pivotal tactical moment.

Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch explains: “The big question is – do we stay on a southerly course to minimise the time in the ocean sprint and potentially score some points, or do we gybe and defend our pole position and aim for the Scoring Gate?”

It will be a big decision for the team, which has only missed out on Scoring Gate points once since the race began in Liverpool, UK, last August.

Echoing Chris’ thoughts, Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck commented: “I think it’s going to be a long-distance sprint, we are unable to sail in a straight line so there will be some gybing and some lighter breeze to contend with.”

Visit Seattle Skipper Nikki Henderson added: “We are just deciding now whether to keep going on this tack and push for a good time in this, or gybe and head south east in more of the right direction. Racing is about compromise … just hoping we strike the right balance.”

Elsewhere in the fleet the decision may come a little easier after continued ‘kitemares’ on board, PSP Logistics and Garmin have slowed progress during the ocean sprint. PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell explains: “It’s been another 24 hours full of spinnaker issues. We’ve had more on this leg so far than the whole of the rest of the race combined!

“The guys have been doing a great job though and repairs to the Code 1 (lightweight spinnaker) are well underway but it has meant that we have lost significant ground which is irritating.”

For the teams that opt for sticking with the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, there will be no let up with Unicef Skipper Bob Beggs reporting that weather conditions are making it a closely fought battle: “We are galloping along in company with most of the fleet as, thus far, no yacht has managed an escape.”

Looking ahead, Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell explains why racing is set to remain close and tactical for the coming days: “The high pressure is continuing to drive a decent breeze down the coast, and a big low-pressure system, which is making landfall north of that tomorrow, will help maintain a steady breeze for the next two to three days.”​

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The 11 teams are now taking part in 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. Race 10 started May 1 and is expected to take approximately 23 to 26 days, with the fleet to arrive between May 23 and 27. After transiting the Panama Canal, Race 11 to New York begins June 3.

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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