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Equator Crossings & Scoring Gate Decisions For Clipper Race Fleet

7th February 2018
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Equator Crossings & Scoring Gate Decisions For Clipper Race Fleet Photo: Clipper Ventures

#ClipperRace - It’s still tight at the top on Day 8 of Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race, with only seven nautical miles separating the lead between the top three teams Qingdao, Dare to Lead and Sanya Serenity Coast.

The latter had been in the lead for much of Day 7 in the race to its home port, but had to settle for third place as of 6pm Irish time/UTC.

Nasdaq’s decision to stay west, close to the rhumb line, payed off initially as it headed the fleet earlier today with Garmin close by, but both teams have since slipped down the table as they and Visit Seattle chose the Scoring Gate over position. The latter is at the front of that three-boat pack, with Garmin and Nasdaq behind in that order.

The Clipper Race fleet has now the equator into the Northern Hemisphere, with various King Neptune ceremonies playing out turning the novice Pollywogs into Honourable Shellbacks.

In keeping with the race, Sanya Serenity Coast opted for a Chinese theme featuring a Chinese sea dragon and Magu, a Chinese goddess.

Nasdaq, meanwhile, was looking to keep things more traditional, as skipper Rob Graham reported: “We gave King Neptune the traditional libation (Australia's finest liquid export this time) for allowing us through His realm, and invited him and his Court onboard later this evening to sit in judgement over our slimy Pollywogs for their landlubberly crimes.

"Given that most of the Clipper Race fleet are crossing today, Neptune is going to be busier than Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.”

Turning to the race, Graham went on to explain: “Nasdaq is sailing well - vying closely with Visit Seattle (hey Nikki!) and even closer with Garmin (salut GT!) in sight for the Scoring Gate, whilst most of the fleet continues on a more northerly course further to the east of us.”

Garmin has been holding its own equator crossing ceremony — featuring a ‘Neptune looking like Spiderman’ and a ‘crazy mermaid’ — and skipper Gaëtan Thomas believes it brought the team some luck with the libations quickly followed by some breeze filling in.

Visit Seattle, the first team to enter Stealth Mode this leg, emerged back in fourth place. It appears that the proximity of the other teams was making it hard for the team to conceal its position, with skipper Nikki Henderson reporting: “Somehow, we let our guard down for a second when skipper Rob from Nasdaq radioed us — despite our suits and our invisibility cloak — and we nearly gave the whole game away.”

Unicef made their decision to forego the Scoring Gate early, heading northeast before entering Stealth Mode around noon Irish time.

Skipper Bob Beggs reported earlier: “Conditions are good as we head north, however the weather forecasting tends to be very variable in accuracy in this part of the world. This enables race skippers to roll our dice to choose a route until we are far enough north to be positioned in the East and North-East trade winds.”

Liverpool 2018 also went east, and joined Unicef in Steath Mode six hours later. Skipper Lance Shepherd said: “Having shot out past Papua New Guinea like a cork out of a bottle having made the decision to go north and get into the west going trades, only time will tell if this has worked out.

"But at the moment we’re doing OK and catching up after a disastrous Doldrums Corridor.”

With those two teams going dark till tomorrow, Conall Morisson’s HotelPlanner.com takes eighth position on the table a little over 40nm behind the current leader.

GREAT Britain makes up the fleet in ninth position, 100 miles behind HotelPlanner.com, and sailing hard after what they called a “Wondering Wednesday” as they watched the different tactics of the teams in front play out.

Skipper David Hartshorn explains: “As we make good speed north and make gains on the boats in front, the big strategic question is: how to break through to those strong north easterly winds that will power us to Sanya.”

Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell reports that the forecast shows the low-pressure moving off west but quite erratically, although conditions are variable, but behind it the Trade Winds should be on the way.

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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