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Clipper Race: Fog descends on fleet

Published on July 1st, 2018

(July 1, 2018; Day 5) – Heavy fog is making visibility tough for the teams in the middle of the North Atlantic, but the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race remains close as the majority of the teams continue to hug the Northerly Ice Limit on their course from New York to Derry-Londonderry.

Garmin remains in the lead for a fourth consecutive day but has teams hot on its stern. Keeping up the intensity on board, Skipper Gaetan Thomas reports: “In the afternoon the first south group came back towards us and now we have Unicef chasing us followed in by, Dare To Lead, and Sanya Serenity Coast – no pressure!

“The team is working on trimming and are trying their best to keep us ahead. In a day maximum, a big wind transition should happen and we’ll see how things will turn!”

For Bob Beggs, Skipper of the second placed Unicef, this is his twentieth Transatlantic crossing and as a result, he is only too aware of how the changing conditions ahead could affect the leaderboard. He says: “Soon the first real change with the inevitable mixing of positions is about to descend to test the fleet. An area of light pressure, followed some shifty winds which will keep us on our toes!”

Despite the poor visibility, the close proximity of the teams means that races within the race are taking place throughout the fleet. Visit Seattle has moved into third after chasing down Nasdaq, whose Skipper Rob Graham reports: “Visit Seattle passed us when the wind shifted and they were able to sail slightly higher and faster than us. Now we’re chasing them but it’s so foggy we don’t have their stern to follow!”

Time is still to tell if Qingdao and PSP Logistics’ decision to take a more southerly route will pay off. Both teams have found the effects of the Gulf Stream to be weaker than first hoped, but with conditions remaining good, PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell hopes the southerly tactic pay dividends when the time comes to eventually turn north: “For us at least, the spinnakers haven’t been out yet. I’m sure in a day or two as the wind shifts more southerly and our strategy takes us north that they’ll be flying in earnest.

“We’ve been very lucky with the weather so far, almost perfect conditions for an Atlantic crossing. This being my seventeenth, I’ve seen it in all its moods!”

According to Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell, the visibility isn’t going to improve for a while, as the relatively warm airflow continues over the much colder water. He reports: “The front is almost stationary now, and in around 36-48 hours, the teams will be negotiating that knuckle of high pressure around the end of the Ice Limit. After that goes through, the next low should pick up again.”

Liverpool 2018 continues to head north on diversion to Newfoundland, Canada, for the medevac of a crew member on board. They expect to arrive by tomorrow.

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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.

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Source: Clipper Ventures

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