Divided opinion among Clipper Race fleet

Published on June 4th, 2018

(June 4, 2018; Day 1) – After the start yesterday for the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race fleet, it only took minutes for a split to emerge in Race 11: Nasdaq Race to New York – the second stage of the USA Coast-to-Coast Leg, the penultimate Leg of the 40,000 nautical mile, eleven month circumnavigation.

Nasdaq was the first to break away, opting for an easterly tack to avoid the wind hole settled close to the start off the Atlantic coast of Panama. Skipper Rob Graham says: “Nasdaq tacked eastwards as soon as our mandatory 10 minutes holding course during the Le Mans start was up. We got a little worried when nobody followed but soon had PSP Logistics on our tail.”

Two soon became four as GREAT Britain and Garmin also joined the breakaway group. GREAT Britain Skipper Dave Hartshorn explains: “Unlike some of the previous races, there is already a split in the tactics being played, with some of the fleet staying on a starboard tack and a few of us tacking over to a port one.​​

“We are currently closed hauled, with the Yankee 1 set, and sailing in about 15 knots of wind. Most of the evening we could see Garmin’s masthead light along with PSP Logistics’ to the south of us, but now it’s just PSP Logistics as Garmin has tacked north.”

Whilst Garmin is now on its own heading north, Skipper Gaetan Thomas is happy with the progress so far, reporting: “We tacked early to get a better angle later on our way to the Mandatory Gate near Dominican Republic. We will see if it pays off.”

It’s tight racing in the other grouping, with less than 4 nautical miles currently separating first from seventh. After being the windward boat in the start, HotelPlanner.com sits in second place and Skipper Conall Morrison comments: “We made the most of our good start position and are still well positioned in the fleet.

“Our first waypoint between Jamaica and the Dominican Republic is 425 nautical miles away. So far the wind remains light, but we can see the occasional dark cloud and there are thunder and lightning patches about.”

Looking ahead, the wind is set to gradually build and veer as the fleet nears the northern tip of South America. But as Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell reports, a ridge in the high pressure area will see the breeze die off in the vicinity of the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti, meaning the teams will need to plan their approach carefully.

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Beginning June 3, the 11 teams are competing in Race 11, named the Nasdaq Race, which extends 1,900 nm in the Atlantic from Panama to New York, USA. Race 11 should take 12 days to complete, with an arrival window of June 14-16.

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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