#ClipperRace - After 25 days and almost 4,800 nautical miles of racing across the Southern Ocean, the finish positions for Race 3: The Dell Latitude Rugged Race from Cape Town to Fremantle will come down to the final few nail-biting hours.
It is the second straight day that Unicef has been in the number one position in the Clipper Race fleet.
And while his team’s first podium finish is in sight, with the finish less than 5 nautical miles ahead at time of publishing, skipper Bob Beggs’ thoughts are fixed on his closest and somewhat surprise competitor, GREAT Britain – which has made a highly impressive leap from sixth to second in the past 24 hours.
Currently in a drag race to the finish line in Fremantle Harbour, Unicef leads GREAT Britain by around 6nm, as Beggs says: “Well the race will come to an end for most of the fleet over the next 24hrs and its another frantic and exciting finish.
“Sadly, we leave one of our fellow journeymen Simon Speirs behind, but he won't be forgotten. His passing is etched in the memories of the whole Clipper Race family. The skipper and crew of GREAT Britain are sailing close by to us and will hopefully fulfil Simon's dream of a podium place today.”
There is no doubt that their beloved teammate Simon is the driving force behind GREAT Britain’s strong finish, with skipper Andy Burns saying: “Today is the grand finale for which we are all hoping for a bitter sweet ending to such a tragic crossing of the Southern Ocean.
“I just want to take my hat off to the crew onboard GREAT Britain for their grit, determination and drive in the face of adversity.”
Visit Seattle is currently in fourth position on the leader board after fighting PSP Logistics for the final spot on the podium. Both teams due to arrive between 8pm and 10pm local time (12pm and 2pm Irish time).
Fifth-placed Qingdao, which has played its Joker Card which will see its race points doubled, is right behind, and is expected to cross the finish line between 9pm and 11pm (1pm to 3pm Iriss time).
Visit Seattle skipper Nikki Henderson commented earlier today: “This is so close! I think it must be about 8 miles separating us, Qingdao and PSP Logistics.
“We are pushing, pushing, pushing to hold them off but both boats are being sailed very well. We just need to make no mistakes and double, triple check everything.”
PSP Logistics skipper Matt Mitchell agrees: “It really could be anyone's race and we are working hard to keep the boat going as fast as possible. We tried a slightly different route to give us a higher wind angle on our way towards Rottnest Island and it's not working out too badly so far!”
Dare To Lead remains in sixth place, though Sanya Serenity Coast is just 7nm behind in seventh. After leading for the majority of the race before getting stuck in a wind hole just days ago, Sanya skipper Wendy Tuck says: “The only way to describe this race is as a roller coaster ride of positions and emotions.
“We are still chasing hard on Dare to Lead and we will not give up trying.”
HotelPlanner.com lost a few places in the rankings overnight after getting as close as 5 nautical miles from eighth-placed Liverpool 2018.
But with the Clipper Race Committee announcing that the Conall Morrison-skippered boat will be awarded a redress of 1 hour and 30 minutes for taking on six crew members of Greenings in Port Elizabeth, that position may improve in the final tally.
Ninth-placed Garmin is due to arrive on Sunday afternoon, and has come out of Stealth Mode early, due to the rule that teams are not permitted to go into hiding within 250 nautical miles of the finish line. It will be a close finish with Nasdaq, barely a mile behind in 10th place.
All arrivals at the Fremantle Sailing Club will be shown live on Facebook Live, subject to weather conditions.