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Pressure Builds As Clipper Race Fleet Approaches First Scoring Gate

31st August 2017
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Qingdao maintain their lead, with GREAT Britain closing the gap some 33nm behind Qingdao maintain their lead, with GREAT Britain closing the gap some 33nm behind Photo: Clipper Ventures

#ClipperRace - The battle for positions in the Clipper Round The World Race is heating up as the fleet barrels down on the first scoring gate of the 2017-18 race.

As of this morning (Thursday 31 August), Qingdao had a 33-nautical-mile lead on second-place GREAT Britain, who played their Joker card earlier in this first leg to net them double points — so if they can maintain position, they will leap into the lead in the overall standings.

Behind them in the middle of the pack, HotelPlanner.com — skippered by Derry sailor Conall Morrison — is in fourth, some 13nm behind third-placed Sanya Serenity Coast and 14nm ahead of UNICEF.

As the Trade Winds drive the fleet south past the Canaries, and with less than 500 nautical miles to the first scoring gate, the pressure to get points on the board is building.

“Our race remains on for the scoring gate,” says Morrison. “We have shown up as third on the leaderboard recently, so there is a point to play for. It seems that competition is tight between Sanya Serenity Coast, Dare To Lead, Garmin, UNICEF and ourselves.

“Hoping for another sunny day of trade-wind sailing today – only one Fastnet Race to go to the scoring gate.”

The teams in the middle of the fleet have also been assessing their tactics, working hard, focusing on coaching and remembering that the Clipper Race is a marathon, not a sprint — something that will become all too clear when the fleet reaches the Doldrums.

But before then, a potential obstacle could be a synoptic wake left behind Hurricane Irma as it heads west across the mid Atlantic.

“We are still looking for the scoring gate, but it is more important to see what is behind it, as the weather looks pretty crazy after the Cape Verde Islands up to the [Doldrums] corridor,” says Garmin skipper Gaëtan Thomas.

“A lot of things might happen and the positions will keep changing, the spectacle is just starting!”

Far behind the rest of the fleet, meanwhile, Greenings has rejoined the first leg after its detour to Lisbon following the medevac of skipper David Hartshorn with a hand injury.

The good news is that Hartshorn’s surgery was a success. The bad news is that the team have a lot of ground to gain — especially if their appeal for redress over time lost during their diversion is rejected by the race committee.

Published in Clipper Race
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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