Clipper Race “Trades finally arrive”

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(February 10, 2018; Day 11) – Following the recent equator crossing ceremonies, the North Easterly trade winds that the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race teams have been wishing for have finally kicked in for the fleet leaders. The top three remain unchanged from yesterday but it is close at the top with just two nautical miles separating the race leader, Qingdao, from Dare To Lead, in second.

Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “As wished for the North Easterly trade winds finally arrived. We got the spinnakers out of their bags and are running towards Sanya at 10+ knots again. Over the next 300nm, we will pass quite a few islands, reefs and shoals and I hope I will come back one day to properly explore those. The diving here must be amazing. For now, they are slightly in our way towards our next waypoint and we have to navigate around them.”

Slightly further north of the top two teams, and around 26nm off the lead, is Sanya Serenity Coast and Skipper Wendy Tuck is delighted with the breeze filling in: “Yippee we are moving and in a good direction. It’s still hot and steamy though. We are also now on the lookout for those pesky squalls that will be riding through on the back of the low pressure that first sucked all the air into it leaving us no wind, now spitting out fits and starts in the form of squalls.”

The big movers of the day are Unicef (fourth) and Liverpool 2018 (fifth), who have taken a more northerly route and moved up from eighth and ninth respectively, each covering over 100nm in the last twelve hours.

Unicef Skipper Bob Beggs cannot wait to get to Sanya and reports: “The long awaited and worked for trades have now kicked in with vigour and we are charging along under our Code 3 spinnaker. We are now pointing at China and the miles to Sanya are at last counting down. The reports we have had are suggesting it’s going to be a great place to explore and relax. Can’t wait.”

Also taking a more northerly route is PSP Logistics although the team, which was in seventh place, has now gone into Stealth Mode and will not re-emerge until midnight. Skipper Matt Mitchell has reported good progress though, despite some squalls: “The wind started filling in for us yesterday afternoon which saw us cover in six hours what it took 24 hours to make on the previous day. There was a bit of a spanner in the works this morning though as we got caught in a squall system, with cell after cell coming over us in quick succession. They must have cancelled each other’s wind out though as we were bobbing along not making good ground at all.”

To the west, the teams have not been so fortunate with the wind with Visit Seattle and Garmin each slipping a place to sixth and seventh respectively. Visit Seattle Skipper Nikki Henderson explains: “We aren’t really moving. Everyone is trying to avoid heat exhaustion. I’m imagining ice cubes clinking in my drink as I gulp down six litres of water a day.”

Even further out west, and closer to the rhumb line, is Nasdaq in eighth place and Skipper Rob Graham explains that the team is working hard for every mile: “We are in an area of light and variable winds, with occasional, relatively gentle, squalls. These changes in wind strength and direction necessitate frequent changes of headsails: I think we’ve averaged about two an hour over the past day and a half.”

Also working hard on frequent sail changes is HotelPlanner.com in ninth place and Skipper Conall Morrison has reported that “it’s been a day of ups and downs.” As a nominee in the Irish Sailor of the Year Awards, which took place last night, Conall took time out in his blog today to thank readers for their support. He explains: “Unfortunately I was pipped at the post for the award which went to Conor Fogerty (a former Clipper Race Skipper) for his result in the Single-Handed East-West Transatlantic Race in the summer, a very deserved winner.”

Back in tenth place, things are finally looking up for GREAT Britain and Skipper David Hartshorn reports: “After some frustrating days, the elusive North Easterlies we have been in search of appear to be kicking in. We are currently sailing on a fine reach with a pretty constant wind strength and direction; combined with a flat sea state we are achieving the best boat speed we have seen in a number of days.”

The trade winds are predicted to become steadier but there is always the risk of squalls, which the teams will need to be on the lookout for.

Beginning January 30, Race 7 of the 13 stage Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race has the fleet racing 4280nm from Whitsunday Islands in Australia to Sanya, China. From there teams will race onwards to Qingdao, also in China; across the North Pacific Ocean to Seattle, and through the Panama Canal to New York.

The course to Sanya is expected to take between 23 to 27 days, with the fleet expected to arrive into the Sanya Serenity Marina between February 21 and 25.

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.

Source: Clipper Ventures

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