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Visit Seattle Pips PSP Logistics To The Post In Dramatic Qingdao Finale

15th March 2018
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Visit Seattle Pips PSP Logistics To The Post In Dramatic Qingdao Finale Photo: Clipper Ventures

#ClipperRace - Visit Seattle has pulled off a sensational victory after a dramatic twist in the tale of Race 8, swooping past PSP Logistics to steal victory in the final few miles of the race to Qingdao, China.

PSP Logistics, which had led the Clipper Race fleet for eight successive days and were 25 nautical miles ahead at 9am Irish time/UTC yesterday (Wednesday 14 March), succumbed to a wind hole just 30nm from the finish line, allowing Visit Seattle to sneak up on their eastern side to take the race win.

Visit Seattle, led by 24-year-old British skipper Nikki Henderson, crossed the finish line off the coast of Qingdao at 00:04:11 local time (16:04:11 UTC) to complete the 1,700 nautical mile race stage from Sanya in 10 days, 9 hours, 34 minutes and 11 seconds.

After her team crossed the finish line, Henderson said: “This reflects the hard work and determination and grit displayed by everyone on this boat - naturally a lot of luck and whilst we do feel for PSP Logistics, we can’t hide our elation.”

This is the third podium in eight races and a second victory for Visit Seattle, who went into Race 8 in third place in the overall standings, just four points behind the race leader.

The team is also yet to play its Joker Card, a bonus tactic, which each team has the ability to ‘play’ for one of the thirteen race stages, which doubles the number of race points earned for that chosen race.

Commenting from on board the boat shortly after finishing was crew member Chrissie Laming, a photographer who joined the Visit Seattle team for Leg 5 and 6.

“I am in total shock and am completely blown away at managing to come in at first position - we were keeping everything crossed for second place and had been driving hard through a tough 10 days. It had always been my dream to come into Qingdao as a winner - and it’s just come true - what a lucky lady I am, and team we are!”

Just over an hour later, there was further agony for PSP Logistics, which was left bobbing around in no wind less than five nautical miles from the finish line, as two other teams overtook in the east.

Sanya Serenity Coast took second place after crossing the line at 01:12:58 local time (17:12:58 UTC). Skipper Wendy Tuck said: “I didn’t know that we had got second till about 90 minutes, after we had finished. I really feel PSP Logistics’ pains as we have been there after losing from a 200nm lead in Race 3.”

Sanya’s fourth podium position of the 13-stage Clipper Race series is an especially big result as the team had chosen to play its Joker Card in this particular race, which means its 11 points are doubled to 22, extending its lead over the 10 competing teams in the race. The team also won two points in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint part of the race.

Liverpool 2018 crossed the finish line in third place at 2.25am local (6.25pm UTC) to take the team’s second podium position. Skipper Lance Shepherd said: “It has been a very tactical race with every weather you could imagine - except snow.....but that might come yet.

“The racing has been very close and we have been playing cat and mouse with Sanya Serenity Coast and Visit Seattle. It’s always exciting when one gybe or tack can make all the difference. It is also fantastic to get our second podium, with a third place.

“The crew have performed amazingly and they should be very proud of themselves having achieved something special. Really looking forward to a cold beer and a warm bed. Bring on the mighty Pacific.”

PSP Logistics ended up finishing Race 8 in fourth place, eventually crossing the finish line at 7.43am local (11.43pm UTC).

Taking to the stage at the team’s arrival ceremony, skipper Matt Mitchell, who was clearly disappointed, explained: “It was a very difficult race. We were leading from the start but in the last five miles the wind just died on us and we watched our competitors sail around us. That last five miles took us twelve hours to complete.”

However, the PSP skipper added: “It might have been a tough experience but we’re still very proud of ourselves, we had such a good race together until that last part and the welcome here has been absolutely fantastic as always so thank you for making us feel so welcome.”

The race leaders are the first vessels to arrive at the new Wanda Yacht Club in the West Coast New Area of Qingdao, which is hosting its seventh Clipper Race and is now the event’s longest serving host port partner.

Boats will remain in the city until Friday 23 March, when the fleet embarks on the Mighty Pacific Leg 6: a 5,600 nautical mile race across the North Pacific from Qingdao to Seattle.

Meanwhile, two more boats crossed the finish line overnight Irish time: home team Qingdao (10:40:42 local/02:40:42 UTC) in fifth even after redress was applied, and Garmin (13:38 local/05:38 UTC) in sixth.

Behind them the battle for race points continues with less than 10nm separating GREAT Britain, Nasdaq and Dare To Lead, currently in seventh, eighth and ninth respectively – although Nasdaq, like Qingdao, has 1 hour 45 minutes of redress to be applied.

GREAT Britain is leading the final charge this morning with around only two and a half miles to go to the finish line as of 10am Irish time/UTC.

After a busy night of gybing to avoid fishing nets, skipper David Hartshorn reports: “We are expecting the winds to back from south to the north-east as the next low, with the associated front, comes across the race track and dominates the weather. So, after a number of days under the kite, the last push is expected to be an uphill beat in 30 knots of wind.”

Nasdaq skipper Rob Graham, whose vessel is less than a mile astern, has also had a tense night of gybing. “It’s still very close between us, GREAT Britain and Dare To Lead. The fog is thicker and colder than ever this morning, as the wind has switched into a building icy north-north-easterly after a light and fickle phase full of sail changes. We're hoping to get in before it starts blowing too hard and the sea state builds.”

The conditions have certainly started to turn chilly as the teams head north, with Dare To Lead skipper Dale Smyth, currently 5.5nm from the finish line, explaining: “We are beating upwind in 35 knots of very, very cold wind to make the finish line. We actually had a little bit of snow when it first came through. To make it even more exciting the visibility is virtually nothing in thick fog. This has truly been a very tough interesting leg.”

Arriving into Qingdao will be a welcome return for Unicef skipper Bob Beggs, whose team is just 30nm away. “The team are as always upbeat and are looking forward to arriving tomorrow morning,” he said. “I am looking forward to catching up with all the familiar faces from our tremendous welcome two years ago when, as Qingdao crew, we sailed into our home port.”

A little over 80nm finish this morning is HotelPlanner.com, which has had close encounters with the world’s largest fishing fleet. Skipper Conall Morrison reports: “Now we are in thick fog and becalmed… This is not forecast to last for long and soon we expect 30 knots from the north-east. This will bring colder and drier air to blow the fog away and we will be living at an angle for the last few miles.”

Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell says that the strong north-north-easterly winds being on a weather shore will at least make for reasonably flat seas as the teams make their way to the finish line and the wind is forecast to say much the same for the next few hours before gradually veering and easing.

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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