#ClipperRace - Christmas has come early for the Clipper Race fleet, which is finally enjoying the downwind sailing conditions that teams have been hoping for – with the first half of the fleet already in the thick of Race 3’s Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.
There has been no change to the top of the leaderboard with Sanya Serenity Coast remaining in first place, almost at the end of the sprint and more than 60 nautical miles ahead of PSP Logistics.
“We started the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint last night, so have our spikes on and we are off,” said Sanya skipper Wendy Tuck.
“This morning has been a bit busy – we decided to go for a hoist of the Code 3 [heavyweight spinnaker] … All went well, until about one hour later the breeze built up again and what with chippy choppy sea was time to get it down.”
Conditions are turning in her favour, however. “Now it’s getting packed as it looks like we will be able to hold it now as the breeze has changed direction and eased. So, it will be time to drive it like we stole it very soon.”
Visit Seattle has moved up the leaderboard into third position, followed by the almost neck-and-neck Dare To Lead and Qingdao, the latter of which is playing its Joker. GREAT Britain in sixth isn’t far behind.
Liverpool 2018 in seventh and Unicef in eighth will be the next teams to cross the start line of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, followed later by Garmin — which is also preparing for the non-emergency medevac of Erik Hellstrom who is suffering from an ongoing abdominal condition.
Garmin has been instructed to continue racing, making best speed towards Fremantle, with a plan to medevac Hellstrom via transfer to a non-race vessel when closer to the Australian coast and subject to a suitable vessel being located.
Nasdaq in 10th place is 100 nautical miles further back, while the Northern Irish-skippered HotelPlanner.com holds 11th and is working hard to claw back some miles, covering the biggest distance among the fleet in the last 24 hours of some 135nm.
Unlike the Scoring Gate, the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint bonus points are awarded to the three teams with the quickest times. The sprint winners therefore will only be announced once the final team has completed the challenge.
Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell reports that today and much of tomorrow should bring a continuation of the strong WSW/SW winds that the teams currently have.
It looks like a high-pressure system will be sliding around Cape Leeuwin as the teams approach Fremantle, leading to some fleet compression and an exciting race finish.