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Clipper Race Fleet Splits Tactics In Race To ‘Wondrous Whitsundays’

5th January 2018
The Clipper Race fleet battles for position leaving Hobart on Friday morning The Clipper Race fleet battles for position leaving Hobart on Friday morning Photo: Clipper Ventures

#ClipperRace - Some divisive early navigational choices and tight racing means the leaderboard made for gripping viewing in the first hours of Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race.

PSP Logistics and Garmin both gybed towards Tasmania to stay closer to the Rhumb line before 6am Irish time this morning (Friday 5 January), while most of the Clipper Race fleet headed further offshore into the Tasman Sea.

Ahead of the gybe, PSP and Visit Seattle were under one nautical mile apart rounding Tasman Island with the lead changing hands behind them.

In her report this morning, Visit Seattle skipper Nikki Henderson said: “A tactical race down the Derwent left positions changing constantly. We had a good start and then fell right to the back of the fleet which was frustrating to say the least. We have been fighting back and now have found PSP Logistics - the race is on!”

After leading for most of Race 5 until the crucial final stage, PSP skipper Matt Mitchell is feeling determined for a strong finish in this race.

“Our start today was great and we managed to pull a few miles on the fleet during the tacking battle out of the Derwent so we are very pleased,” he said. “The guys are relishing the chance to get back out racing again and we feel that we have a bit of a point to prove on this one, so watch this space!”

The decision to gybe put Garmin in third place this morning, though they’ve since crept up to second.

After making the decision to play the Joker Card, meaning points for this race will be doubled, skipper Gaetan Thomas and his crew are giving all they can for a strong finish in order to make best impact on their position in the overall Clipper Race standings.

Sanya Serenity Coast was hot on the leaders heels in fourth this morning, and over this afternoon Irish time has taken the lead by a three-nautical-mile margin.

Skipper Wendy Tuck will also be determined to keep her excellent performance streak up in this all-Australian Leg.

Just over six nautical miles separates the first seven boats in this early stage, meaning positions are changing regularly.

Dare To Lead remains in fifth place as it heads north for the upwind battle, with Liverpool 2018 in sixth, Qingdao seventh and in eighth place.

Reflecting on the Hobart stopover, and the start of the Wondrous Whitsundays Race, skipper Conall Morrison said: “What a stopover, and what an honour to receive the Rani Award at the prize giving for the most meritorious performance in the Sydney-Hobart Race. It is not every day you win (your class in) the Sydney-Hobart race so you have to make the most of it!”

Morrison, who is’s latest Sailor of the Month and also a nominee for the Sailor of the Year Award, added: “It is nice to be going again however it’s a marathon not a sprint and we must be well prepared for the strong Northerly forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning.”

Further back in the fleet, GREAT Britain is in ninth and Nasdaq in 10th, with Unicef trailing after a far east run and currently 24nm behind the leader, although leaderboard positions are all to play for as teams head north.

On board Nasdaq, skipper Rob Graham reports that the team’s fourth place during Race 5 has given them a psychological springboard for further successes.

“The Nasdaq crew were delighted to have crossed the line in third place in the Clipper Race fleet during the Sydney Hobart. However, the two-hour redress awarded to for their pickup of the MOB made them the victors on corrected time, and moved Nasdaq down to fourth.

“This is in no way a negative thing: deserved its time, and the much more important achievement of helping a fellow sailor in need. It's been great to see the recognition of their competence and seamanship (as all Clipper Race crews are trained) by RSHYR organisers and beyond in the sailing media - please tell everyone you know to vote Conall in the Sailor of year 2017.”

Graham adds: “For our part, Nasdaq is going to use its good showing in the RSHYR as a spur to greater things in the races to come.”

Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell explains that the northerly winds will intensify over the next 24-28 hours and should reach speeds between 30 and 40 knots.

This is likely to lead to some significant position changes as the fleet beats upwind and spreads out in this highly tactical race.

The arrival window for the fleet into Abell Point Marina, Airlie Beach, is Saturday 13 to Monday 15 January, when the teams can look forward to the inaugural Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival.

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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About the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is undoubtedly one of the greatest ocean adventures on the planet, also regarded as one of its toughest endurance challenges. Taking almost a year to complete, it consists of eleven teams competing against each other on the world’s largest matched fleet of 70-foot ocean racing yachts.

The Clipper Race was established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in 1968-69. His aim was to allow anyone, regardless of previous sailing experience, the chance to embrace the thrill of ocean racing; it is the only event of its kind for amateur sailors. Around 40 per cent of crew are novices and have never sailed before starting a comprehensive training programme ahead of their adventure.

This unique challenge brings together everyone from chief executives to train drivers, nurses and firefighters, farmers, airline pilots and students, from age 18 upwards, to take on Mother Nature’s toughest and most remote conditions. There is no upper age limit, the oldest competitor to date is 76.

Now in its twelfth edition, the Clipper 2019-20 Race started from London, UK, on 02 September 2019.


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