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Clipper Race: Life on the lean

Published on June 30th, 2018

(June 30, 2018; Day 4) – It’s been a bumpy time for many of the 11 teams in the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race as they braced themselves for a second day on the ‘roller coaster’ Gulf Stream. The competition remains tight with just over ten nautical miles between first and fifth position on the Leaderboard.

Another race milestone has been reached too as teams have passed the longitude of Punta del Este, Uruguay, meaning they have crossed every line of longitude on the Earth’s surface.

Garmin Skipper Gaëtan Thomas is keeping a close watch on his leading position as the standings are prone to change quickly. He says, “It was interesting to see some boats flying in the Gulf Stream, hopefully not for long so we will not lose too much ground. In a few days we will really see the verdict of what was the best course. The Scoring Gate is the next target, fingers crossed we get some extra points!”

For Joker playing Unicef, it’s been life on a 35 degree angle and they are fully aware of just how close this race is. Says Skipper Bob Beggs, “We are still in tough competition with Hotel, Dare To Lead, and Sanya Serenity Coast. And the competition to the south seem to be having a battle with each other in stronger winds and fair current. There is soon to be the first mix up on the Leaderboard in preparation for the final battle to be fought on the approach to Ireland in ten days from now.”

Seeking out the Gulf Stream has played into the hands of the Nasdaq team who welcomed the extra knots it rewarded to keep them ahead of their close competitors. Skipper Rob Graham says, “You’ve got to love that Gulf Stream. After a beautiful sunny day full of respectable progress at around 11 knots, Nasdaq came back into some very favourable current and our speed jumped up to 15! We needed it too, because Visit Seattle is in sight and chasing hard.

“By one measure Nasdaq completed our circumnavigation today, since we have crossed every line of longitude and are now further east than back in October when we arrived into Punta Del Este. Having Visit Seattle so close keeps the pressure on, and means that no-one feels they have finished – we’re definitely still racing.”

Not all is well for the Liverpool 2018 team which is currently diverting to St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada so that crew member Dominic Littlewood can receive medical attention. All other crew are safe and well.

Littlewood is a type 1 diabetic who has been suffering with sea sickness, which has affected his management of blood glucose levels. After monitoring and careful consideration, it was decided that the best and most appropriate course of action was to divert the yacht to St. Johns, where Dominic can get the care that he needs.

Liverpool 2018 ceased racing at 2253 UTC, on June 30, in position 41°06.006N, 056°28.922W and is currently making best speed under sail towards St Johns, which is approx. 400 nm away. The yacht’s ETA is 1700 UTC on July 2.

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The 11 teams began the final Leg 8 which carries the fleet across the North Atlantic from New York, USA, to Liverpool, UK, via Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland.

Leg 8 is formed of two races, with the first being the 3000nm Race 12 from USA to IRL that got underway June 26. The fleet is expected to arrive between between July 10 and 14.

Then it will be one final race, Race 13, when the teams depart July 22 to return to the UK almost a year later for the final finish on July 28.

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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