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Wind Holes Unsettle Clipper Race Fleet As Leg 1 Finish Line Draws Near

19th September 2017
The latest Clipper Race fleet positions as of 4pm Irish time The latest Clipper Race fleet positions as of 4pm Irish time Photo: Clipper Ventures

#ClipperRace - re-emerged from stealth mode into sixth position — and a wind hole — as the Clipper Race fleet approaches the finish of the first leg in Uruguay.

“We have the slightest puff of wind from the north west now as I type that might help to get us through to the other side,” said the boat’s Northern Irish skipper Conall Morrison.

Up at the front, Sanya Serenity Coast extended its lead in the closing stages of the race to Punta del Este as the majority of the fleet were caught out by the wind.

PSP Logistics and GREAT Britain have moved up to second and third respectively, having taken an easterly route, and are hoping to avoid the wind hole that has trapped teams to the west.

Leading skipper Wendy Tuck is not resting on her laurels. “Now less than 500nm to go and the nerves start to get shot to pieces. It’s the time in between position reports that does it. We get an update every six hours and it’s amazing what an overactive imagination can do.”

Roy Taylor, skipper of PSP Logistics, is playing a cautious game after moving up to second place. “After a great night sail with a lovely spinnaker gybe we managed to shred our Code 3 (heavyweight spinnaker). We still have our Code 2 (mediumweight spinnaker) and an unused Code 1 (lightweight spinnaker) but are now playing a game of protecting our assets while we see how the table looks in the morning.”

Dare To Lead has moved up into fourth position after being faced with some rather complex routing in to Punta del Este. Skipper Dale Smyth explained: “We are all currently dealing with transitioning a low-pressure cell that formed in this area and it is just incredible how close we are after 6,000 nautical miles.”

The teams behind have been affected by wind holes. Skipper of fifth-placed Qingdao, Chris Kobusch, said: “Where the previous 24 hours were dominated by fast, intense spinnaker runs, the last few hours showed an absolute absence of wind.”

Skipper of seventh-placed Garmin, Gaëtan Thomas, is putting on a brave face. “Let's keep positive because, to be honest, a wind hole is the last thing a sailor wants! Again, it is going be a new start for the last bit of this leg. It will be crazy to see all of us in sight of each other in the approach of the finishing line!”

Visit Seattle and Unicef have have been trading places between eight and ninth after losing their podium positions yesterday by taking the westerly route.

Nikki Henderson, skipper of Visit Seattle, remains optimistic. “We are hoping this has been a good decision, and the wind fills in over here in the west before filling in in the east and we shoot along to Uruguay before the others. Everything feels a gamble right now - so it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few days.”

Liverpool 2018 was in tenth place before entering stealth mode earlier today (Tuesday 19 September), hiding their position from the fleet till tomorrow afternoon as fellow back markers Greenings and Nasdaq were gaining ground.

Dan Smith, relief skipper for Greenings, said: “We have been keeping a good eye on the weather and hope to sail around some of the wind holes that others in the fleet have found themselves parked up in.”

Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell reports that the low is heading southeast taking with it most of the deep cloud. After it’s gone, the breeze should return to the northeast for all of the teams but a next front may get to them before the finish.

Tactics will come in to play all the way in to Punta del Este, with Sanya Serenity Coast expected to cross the finish line on Thursday 21 September between 4pm and 10pm Irish time.

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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