The closing stages of The LMAX Exchange – RACE of THE AMERICAS is turning into an incredibly tough finale. In contrast to the strong winds of Tropical Storm Colin, light, variable conditions are requiring constant sail changes and with the racing so tight, teams are feeling intense pressure knowing leaderboard positions are far from secure.
With the first teams expected to arrive in New York this afternoon (evening UTC), the yo-yo battle for line honours continues. ClipperTelemed+ now leads Garmin by a slim 5NM margin. With both teams vying for their first race win and with just 70NM to go, Garmin Skipper Ashley Skett, is certainly one of those feeling the pressure having seen a 10NM lead slip away overnight.
He reports: “I've lost count of the number of sail changes that we have completed today, it seems that we can't even sail for an hour without a reefing exercise or headsail change. With the race for first place so close, it's important that I make the right calls at the right time but in such variable conditions that can be tricky.
“In preparation for some heavy winds that were forecast, we switched to our smallest Yankee late this evening. Unfortunately, ten minutes after we had made the change, the wind dropped right off and we were dead in the water so immediately had to switch back to our biggest headsail, the Yankee 1.
“For now we can just hope that this mistake doesn't end up costing us when we cross the finish line tomorrow morning.”
Visit Seattle remains third, aiming for its first ever podium finish, but the team is well aware that GREAT Britain is in pursuit just 18NMs behind, looking to ruin the party.
In his report this morning, Skipper Huw Fernie notes: “This is yet another race that just keeps giving. We're driving as hard and fast as we can for the finish line but find that the winds are changing faster than we can keep up with our sail changes. Added to that we've had currents pushing us in all directions at different points in the day and it's no wonder that our track is more like a slalom than ever before.
“The mostly reliable forecast even has a few more little shifts in store for us before we are done. We have 150 nautical miles to go, have logged over 7000 since the start of this leg in Seattle, and are nervously holding our 20 nautical mile lead over GREAT Britain.”
The fluky conditions mean teams have all left to race for. LMAX Exchange is in fifth place, just 10NMs behind GREAT Britain but will have a 1 hour 10 minute time penalty applied to their finish time after it infringed race rules when it sailed within the 12 mile exclusion of Haiti.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire in sixth, is 5NM behind LMAX Exchange, and Da Nang - Viet Nam is seventh, within 10NM of Derry~Londonderry~Doire.Further back Qingdao is in eighth place but has Unicef just 7NM behind in ninth.
One Skipper hoping to use the fluky conditions to their benefit is Mission Performance’s Skipper Greg Miller. Currently in eleventh place with tenth place PSP Logistics just 3NMs ahead, he says: “After the Ocean sprint win, the Warriors are eager to capitalise and catch a few of the fleet before we cross the finish line so we are still pushing hard and fast.
PSP Logistics came up a number of times on the AIS (Automatic Identification System) today and we seem to be closing in on them with help of the Gulf Stream. With luck we will have a visual with them soon.”