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Light Winds Lottery Brings Leaderboard Changes For Clipper Race Fleet Out Of Whitsundays

31st January 2018
Working hard to catch what little breeze available on board Visit Seattle Working hard to catch what little breeze available on board Visit Seattle Photo: Clipper Ventures

#ClipperRace - A testing first 24 hours of Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race has seen the Clipper Race fleet make slow progress at the mercy of a light wind lottery.

With soaring temperatures to contend with and only a light breeze to fill the sails, teams have been working hard to try and break away from the main pack in patches of breeze.

The lack of wind, which has burdened the fleet since the race officially started yesterday, has kept teams closely together and has also brought about changes across the leaderboard.

Sanya Serenity Coast pipped Dare To Lead to take first place earlier today, and while the leading team is beginning to make some progress towards the yacht’s home port of Sanya, the light wind conditions remain testing for the crew.

Skipper Wendy Tuck says: “It’s hot, the competition is even hotter with yachts all around us, the big Code 1 (lightweight spinnaker) is up, although it had a little rest last night as the breeze was really light and the Windseeker made an appearance for a few hours.”

Second-placed Dare To Lead is being chased by PSP Logistics, now in third place, for the second consecutive day but as PSP Logistics skipper Matt Mitchell explains, progress remains slow for both teams: “So, you may have noticed that we haven’t made very good progress over the last 24 hours, well we haven’t. Wind holes galore where every point of a knot of boat speed was worked hard for.”

Slightly behind the frontrunners, Unicef has been swapping places with Visit Seattle, with the latter currently a hair ahead in fourth.

Just a mile behind them, Conall Morrison and HotelPlanner.com have been busy clawing back valuable miles and are currently sixth, in a match race with seventh-placed Qingdao, after a morning spent duelling with now ninth-placed Garmin.

However, with such fickle wind speeds, and fewer than 19 nautical miles separating first and last place, positions have been changing continuously as the fleet heads for the virtual course mark ‘Light’, where key tactical decisions will start to take effect.

With that milestone in view, Garmin skipper Gaetan Thomas is eager to start breaking away.

“This morning we were the first boat to gybe and just after PSP Logistics and HotelPlanner.com did the same and later all the fleet did,” he says. “Too bad, I was trying to do something tactical and sneaky but when we are all on AIS (Automatic Identification System) range, it seems that the fleet loves to stick like flies.”

The jostling of positions continues towards the bottom of the leaderboard but at only 16nm behind the leader, Nasdaq skipper Rob Graham is staying optimistic, reporting: “The gentle conditions have allowed everybody to find their sea legs without passing through the seasickness stage, and allowed our new joiners in particular to concentrate on learning.”

Despite slipping to last place, new GREAT Britain skipper David Hartshorn is pleased with the progress of the team in the opening stages, and has used the light airs as an opportunity for joining crew to perfect spinnaker helming skills.

Looking ahead, the next 24 hours should provide the teams with some cooler and faster conditions but Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell explains that the tropical depression which was due to bring big winds has moved further east of the course and is bringing less wind than initially forecast.

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