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Downwind Sailing Starts To Kick In For Clipper Race Fleet In Southern Ocean

12th November 2017
Visit Seattle missed out on yesterday’s Scoring Gate points bonus but has crept up to third place since this morning Visit Seattle missed out on yesterday’s Scoring Gate points bonus but has crept up to third place since this morning Photo: Clipper Ventures

#ClipperRace - Following the gruelling upwind slog which has dominated much of Race 3: The Dell Latitude Rugged Race, a wind shift overnight has meant that downwind sailing conditions have kicked in for some of the most southerly teams in the Clipper Race fleet.

This was music to the ears of the skipper and crew on board Visit Seattle, which has crept up to third place in the first half of today (Sunday 12 November) after a frustrating wind hole hindered progress yesterday.

Speaking from on board, Skipper Nikki Henderson said: “When the position reports came in yesterday and we saw everyone was moving — even GREAT Britain, which was only about 25 nautical miles north of us – ah it was pretty heart breaking. But nothing we could do except soldier on and try and head south to find more wind.

“In the middle of the night we found it - queue big sigh of relief. Now we are finally, finally, cruising along downwind with a spinnaker up. Here begins some mile crushing in the direction of Fremantle.”

Elsewhere, PSP Logistics and Qingdao still hold the top two positions on the leaderboard. Sanya Serenity Coast also picked up bonus race points for the Scoring Gate yesterday, though they’ve since slipped down to fifth as they hold out for the wind to shift.

Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck commented earlier: “It’s hard to think that the boats behind and down south will have kites up now, they will be having a lovely time if the weather file is correct.

“Our time will come soon, but I can’t keep saying just 24 hours more of his on-the-nose stuff!”

For sixth placed Unicef, which is also eagerly anticipating some downwind sailing conditions, morale remains high as they head towards Fremantle. Skipper Bob Beggs said: “At last the wind has freed off sufficiently so that, although we are still on the wind, we can point to our destination. Hurrah!

“Hopefully in a couple of days the good ship Unicef will come upright as the wind comes aft, so we can enjoy some downwind sailing.”

Following Unicef is Liverpool 2018 in seventh, while GREAT Britain, which has benefited from the wind filling and backing at 4am UTC this morning, has zoomed from behind that duo up to fourth place.

Still holding out for the much-needed wind change is skipper Dale Smyth on currently ninth-placed Dare To Lead.

“We were forced right over the top of the scoring gate and we really need this wind to change or we are going to have to go backwards and tack South. We run the risk this far north of not getting Westerlies at all so we keep praying for it to change.”

On board eighth-placed Nasdaq, racing took a back seat this morning to mark Remembrance Sunday. Skipper Rob Graham hoped that “friends and followers around the world will have joined us in this important occasion, as we turn our thoughts to those fallen in conflicts past and present.”

Despite starting Race 3 towards the top of the leaderboard, Garmin holds tenth place today, but is by no means settling at the back of the fleet.

Skipper Gaëtan Thomas commented: “It is quite frustrating to be at the back of the fleet, but it is far from the finish and now is the time to keep focus, not give up.”

And for eleventh placed, skippered by Derry’s Conall Morrison, weather should be backing and building as it progresses towards Fremantle — still trying to make up those lost miles from last weekend’s medevac.

Looking ahead, weather systems may continue to be tricky for the fleet. Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell explains: “There’s a fair amount of wind around between the incoming weather systems, which will be generally going in the right direction, but the progression of the high and then the ridge south of it in two to three days’ time will stretch the fleet’s tactics.”

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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