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Snakes & Ladders Game To Sydney For Clipper Race Fleet

12th December 2017
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The view from on board Sanya Serenity Coast, currently jockeying for the lead in the Tasman Sea with new frontrunners Qingdao The view from on board Sanya Serenity Coast, currently jockeying for the lead in the Tasman Sea with new frontrunners Qingdao Photo: Clipper Ventures

#ClipperRace - It’s been another busy day on Tuesday (12 December) for the Clipper Race fleet as teams zigzag north to the Sydney finish line trying to avoid the wind holes, with some teams far more fortunate in the game than others.

Santa Serenity Coast leads the fleet, but only by a hair over Qingdao, which held the top spot for three consecutive days and also picked up three extra points after being first across the scoring gate.

The battle for the lead continues with Visit Seattle, which crossed the gate second to claim two points and has since elected to go into Stealth Mode.

Qingdao skipper Chris Kobusch, who is pushing hard for his team’s first podium finish, says he spent most of yesterday searching for wind, which filled in the late afternoon.

“With the first wind shift to the west we tacked away from Visit Seattle and managed to gain some miles on them. Enough to stay in front until the scoring gate and to score the three extra points. When we crossed the line, Visit Seattle was only four miles behind and Sanya Serenity Coast, back out of Stealth Mode, eight miles.”

Kobusch added: “Visit Seattle is in Stealth Mode, but I’m sure Nikki [Henderson] and her team are close by as well. So, as it looks it will be a drag race to the finish.”

While we won’t know the team’s precise location until it comes out of Stealth Mode at 6pm Irish time, skipper Nikki Henderson reports a positive experience.

“Just gorgeous sailing today ... as Phil and I said to each other - we were in our happy place. 15 knots, close reaching with full white sails, a wonderful flat sea, current with us, pointing in the right direction and sun out. Absolutely wonderful.”

PSP Logistics is the latest team to enter Stealth Mode and will next appear on the Race Viewer at 6am Irish time tomorrow (Wednesday 13 December).

Skipper Matt Mitchell, who had been creeping up on the leading pack yesterday, explains: “Thankfully we have picked up speed overnight as we decided to head offshore away from the Tasmanian coast. So far that is looking like the right decision as some of the other boats looked to have been struggling.”

Looking ahead, Matt adds: “We have another light wind patch on the way and we are fervently hoping that it won't last too long, and it affects others more than us! (Sorry everyone!)”

With PSP Logistics and Visit Seattle hidden, its Dare to Lead next, followed by Unicef, with both skippers reporting a frustrating time trying to make progress and finding the best routes in the light winds.

Garmin follows, having elected to take the furthest in-shore route, hugging the west coast of Tasmania, giving it a good view of land and the local wildlife.

The teams most affected by the wind holes yesterday, which resulted in some snake-like descents down to the depths of the leaderboard are HotelPlanner.com and GREAT Britain, currently occupying seventh and eighth respectively.

Skipper Conall Morrison of HotelPlanner.com explains: “Not much wind last night has made for frustrating times. We had previously gotten excited as we approached the stalled fleet from the south, more offshore from Tasmania, hoping for less of a wind shadow. Watching 10 knots of boat speed turning into 2 is tough, but that is sailing.”

HotelPlanner.com’s loss turned out to prove a gain however for Liverpool 2018 and Nasdaq, as both teams managed to get on the ladder and overtake, bettering their race hopes — though Liverpool 2018 lost some ground today, slipping back a few miles into last place.

The most positive leaderboard progress of the day, however, goes to Nasdaq, with skipper Rob Graham reporting: “After the drama of yesterday’s kitemare, Nasdaq has had a quieter day although equally busy as we try to pick our way through a light and variable patch of wind East of Tasmania.

“Significant changes to wind strength and direction mean lots of trimming and sail changes - we've lost count of the number of times the Yankee 1, Staysail and WindSeeker have been hoisted and dropped since we past our race mark 'Mitchell' last night.

“All of that work seems to have paid off, because Nasdaq has come from 30+ nm behind to right back with the little group of HotelPlanner.com, GREAT Britain and Liverpool 2018 (G'day mates) who are all blinking on and off my AIS screen as I type. We've also been lucky to have found a patch of South Westerly wind that wasn't in the forecast at all, but is certainly doing us a favour.”

With further light winds forecasted, the Snakes and Ladders game may well continue as the final stages of Race 4: The Tasman Test plays out. The current ETA for the leaders is 11pm to 3am Irish time tomorrow night Wednesday 13 December.

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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