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Battle To Win Clipper Race To Derry-Londonderry Hots Up

8th July 2018
Sanya Serenity Coast’s crew hard at work on deck on Day 12 of Race 12: The LegenDerry Race Sanya Serenity Coast’s crew hard at work on deck on Day 12 of Race 12: The LegenDerry Race Photo: Ming Hao

#ClipperRace - With just 100 nautical miles remaining for the Clipper Race leaders, Race 12: The LegenDerry Race is playing out for the podium and certainly living up to its name as a tense battle, which could finish today.

Visit Seattle, leading the fleet for the third consecutive day, is aiming for its third race win. But with a dreaded wind hole ahead, and Unicef and Garmin hot on its heels — just 15 and 30nm behind respectively — skipper Nikki Henderson is not starting any early celebrations.

“We just started to slow down after a great 24 hours heading in the right direction - straight lining Northern Ireland… The dreaded wind hole looms, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how well we will do — but either way — it’s been an epic race and they have done brilliantly,” she said.

Spirits are high on board Unicef, which is playing its Joker Card on this race and is set to pick up the biggest points haul of the fleet.

Skipper Bob Beggs, hoping this will be his last blog of the race, explains: “The pace has been good despite the forecast and we have managed to stay ahead of the ridge of high pressure for much longer than we expected, but soon we will be slowing as the wind eases back and veers (moves clockwise).

“Just over a hundred and fifty miles to go and having played our Joker on this race we are hoping for a good result, the pressure is on to make the finish line within the next twenty four hours and avoid parking up for too long!”

After leading for times in this race, and after being overtaken by Unicef during the night due to a kite-mare, Garmin is feeling a little unlucky though is still in a strong position to claim its third podium result.

Skipper Gaetan Thomas says: “We can see Visit Seattle escaping slowly on our positions report. The more ahead you are, the more wind you have and less chances to finish in a wind hole very close to finish! Nail biting!”

The leaders may have opened up quite a gap on the rest of the fleet, with some 60nm separating third placed Garmin and Qingdao in fourth, but there is still plenty to play for amid the rest of the fleet in this final ocean crossing and penultimate race of the 2017-18 Clipper Race series.

Skipper Dale Smyth of Dare To Lead explains how the fleet got separated: “The boats that split to the south after the Ice Gate seemed to have fared much better weather wise and have made some good advance on the rest of the fleet. Those of us that went north got punished with a couple of lighter patches but that’s often the gamble of ocean racing.”

Nasdaq overtook Sanya Serenity Coast this morning to take sixth, and has since extended its lead by almost 20 nautical miles. Sanya, the overall race reader, has struggled in this race compared to its usually strong form, but skipper Wendy Tuck is trying everything to gain ground on her competition, and keep those behind her at bay.

“Hard to believe that this last ocean crossing is nearly done, still even harder to believe now is that we are having problems with boat speed. I changed to my lucky crocs and even my lucky sunnies and that didn’t seem to help, still scratching my head over it.”

Behind Sanya in eighth is, whose homeward-bound skipper Conall Morrison blogged earlier today: “It is bitterly cold both on deck and below as we chase the remnants of the front east towards the Donegal coastline. From this time yesterday, we’ve been through the spinnaker wardrobe and are now on our lightweight, trying to squeeze as many miles as possible out of each knot of wind. We have a long following swell which initially makes helming difficult but then pushes you onto a surf as each wave passes.”

Morrison added: “We haven’t seen another Clipper Race boat in over a week, I wonder who we will meet up with before the finish? We remain 300 miles to go and ekeing every last bit of speed out of the good ship and regardless of our finish position we know we've all had a good time and a tough challenge.”

Furthest back, Liverpool 2018 also has its eyes on the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint and the finish, remaining positive despite its diversion.

Skipper Lance Shepherd says: “When we left St John’s in Newfoundland we were over 500 miles behind the fleet and our race was technically over. Had we gone south west to the position we stopped racing then we would have been about 800 miles and at least five days behind the fleet.

“So, we’re racing ourselves and trying to do the best we can in terms of boat speeds and performance. We can still participate in the ocean sprint and intend to do our up-most to gain as many points as we can.”

The latest ETA (as of 1.45pm this afternoon) sees Visit Seattle and Unicef reach Derry-Londonderry between midnight and 6am early tomorrow morning (Monday 10 July). Stay glued to the Race Viewer to see if the dreaded wind hole causes any shake ups.

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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