Displaying items by tag: Clipper Race
#ClipperRace - After a tough and wet couple of days for the Clipper Race fleet, the sun came out on Day 6 of Race 8 (Saturday 10 March), bringing plenty of positive attitudes as the teams make better progress up the east coast of Taiwan after the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.
Having abandoned its own attempt to gain up to three bonus points in the sprint, PSP Logistics continues to lead Race 8, from Sanya to Qingdao, for a fourth consecutive day.
Skipper Matt Mitchell has been enjoying the change to more pleasant conditions: “What a difference a day makes! The sun is shining and the wind has eased to a much more manageable level. We are still tight on the breeze though so we can't have everything in life.”
Sanya Serenity Coast is around 30 nautical miles behind and has leapfrogged Liverpool 2018 into second place.
Although the wind is still on the nose, skipper Wendy Tuck reports: “The crew on board the mighty Sanya Serenity Coast have come through all the lumpy stuff unscathed and the smiles and sunshine are back. This crew just get on with it and it is a real pleasure to sail with all of them.”
Hot on her heels is Visit Seattle and skipper Nikki Henderson. “We are match racing Liverpool 2018 and Sanya Serenity Coast at the mo,” said the race’s youngest skipper. “Last night we made a few good tacks and made some ground on them, but now they are slightly overhauling us with boat speed. It goes in roundabouts. Things will get interesting I'm sure, when the Scoring Gate gets in reach.”
Dropping a couple of places to fourth is Liverpool 2018. Skipper Lance Shepherd reports: “With hindsight maybe we should have gone further north before crossing, who knows (well Matt did probably from being here before - good call Matt), and now we are playing catch-up with the lead three boats.”
GREAT Britain continues to be in fifth place today but lost some miles on the leaders after a mistake with tacking cost them dear, and sixth-placed Qingdao is now only around 10 nautical miles behind the team.
Qingdao skipper Chris Kobusch remains upbeat, despite a bout of seasickness among his crew, saying: “The crew keeps the morale up and fights our way through the waves. Lots of us watching the GRIB files again and again though, hoping the forecasted change in wind direction comes sooner the more we look at it.”
The big climber of today, however, is Nasdaq, up to seventh from 11, and skipper Rob Graham credits the change in conditions for a change in morale.
“The sea state has calmed a little, and the wind is slightly less. More importantly the sun is shining again which makes everyone on deck feel happier about things, even if it makes living below deck uncomfortably hot again.
“Nasdaq now has Taiwan in sight, having tacked east shortly before lunch in close company with Dare To Lead, and HotelPlanner.com also visible on AIS. It's good to have some company and other boats to pace ourselves against.”
Also moving up a couple of places is Dare To Lead, in eighth. Garmin is currently in ninth, having chosen to go further offshore compared to the other teams.
Further back in the fleet, and around 120 nautical miles from the race leader, a close battle is being fought between Conall Morrison's HotelPlanner.com and Unicef, currently in 10th and 11th place respectively.
Unicef skipper Bob Beggs also remains positive, saying: “Soon we will be clear south of Taiwan and will be able to head north at last. At these latitudes it’s still very warm and I'm looking forward to the colder climates as we climb up to Qingdao.”
For the next 24 hours the wind pattern is not expected to change that much, but the teams will find that the wind will ease the further north they get.
The results of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint will be announced later following verification by the race office.
“As the wind has freshened significantly we are now on Yankee 3, staysail and reefs in and out of the mainsail,” said Afloat.ie’s Sailor of the Month for Seamanship in December earlier today, Wednesday 7 March.
“The night also saw quite a bit of commercial traffic as we passed 70 miles south of Hong Kong (hello to sister Ruth, nephew Kieran and brother in-law Simon!). We have also encountered a fair few fishing vessels.
“Today the sun has poked its head out again and we find ourselves the most northerly boat of the fleet. Here’s hoping the wind backs as forecast and helps us make up a few miles to the boats ahead.”
HotelPlanner.com was part of the chasing pack this morning though it was slipped from seventh to ninth place as its northerly bearing puts it further away from destination Qingdao.
Elsewhere, there’s been a reshuffle at the top after the fleet spent another busy night avoiding fishing vessels and dealing with strengthening winds.
PSP Logistics regained the lead on Day 3 of the 1,700 nautical mile Race 8: The Sailing City Qingdao Cup, with Skipper Matt Mitchell enjoying the change in conditions.
“During the day and overnight last night, the wind picked up nicely giving us a little taster of things to come. At one point we were even down to three reefs!
“Our northerly route seems to be paying off, tacking just outside Hong Kong was quite interesting as it was pretty busy up there, however we've had a nice lift and are more or less making the little virtual mark that we have to leave to port, before making our way up to Taiwan.”
Sanya Serenity Coast, which in contrast to PSP Logistics has deviated south of the rhumb line, dropped from first to second place after experiencing an action packed last 24 hours.
Skipper Wendy Tuck explains: “We just used up two more of our get out of jail cards. Eagle eye young Michael Davis just noticed that the top two slides on the main sail had just come off.
“A second get out of jail card was used whilst Michael and I were up sewing and sitting on the main. We saw a fishing boat acting strangely, and before we could do anything, we saw his drift net. Somehow we managed to sail straight over the top of it and not pick it up. Huge sigh of relief by all on deck.”
GREAT Britain made the most of the arrival of the Northeast Trades to cover the most nautical miles overnight Irish time and retake third place, with Liverpool 2018 dropping to fourth.
However, Liverpool 2018 skipper Lance Shepherd is more concerned about the conditions, reporting: “It would seem at present the weather is pretty much doing as forecast if a little breezier than expected at times.
“However, we are heading as planned to waypoint ‘Howard’ then across to the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.”
The leading pack is approximately 100 nautical miles from beginning the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, which will earn the top three fastest teams up to three crucial bonus points.
Nikki Henderson, skipper of the fifth placed Visit Seattle, is feeling good about where her team is at after seeing how the crew handled the building breeze.
“We had our first taste of upwind sailing with gusts of 40 knots - not forecast - and quite a shock. It was good fun - great to have some action after quite a mundane race from the Whitsundays in Australia. Wind has now subsided and we are making good ground to the next waypoint.”
Unicef is in sixth place again today but did make some gains overnight, climbing as high as fourth place at one point. Dare To Lead is just a mile behind in seventh, while Garmin and HotelPlanner.com continue their duel some 25nm behind them.
Qingdao in 10th and Nasdaq in 11th are around 100 nautical miles behind the lead boat. After a day spent battling a confused sea state, Nasdaq skipper Rob Graham comments: “We had originally planned to make a long tack north before heading east, but with more fishing boats the closer we came inshore, we felt we were losing too much hard-earned ground by having to dodge around them.
“So instead we’ve made some shorter tacks further south where there is less fishing activity and the deeper water seems slightly less lumpy.”
The upwind battle is set to continue for some time yet. While the winds are expected to ease over the next 24 hours, Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell is predicting the Northeast Trades to begin building tomorrow afternoon, local time.
As they approach the southern tip of Taiwan, the teams can expect strong gusts of between 40 knots to the low 50s, particularly if they are in the midst of a north-going current.
#ClipperRace - Skippers in the Clipper Race were reporting relief this morning (Tuesday 6 March) as winds and boat speeds picked up — though with the high level of fishing fleets around, teams are also on high alert in this opening stage of Race 8: The Sailing City Qingdao Cup.
Moreover, with the entire fleet headed north of the rhumb line in search of the best conditions, the key decision this morning focused on when to tack and which teams would go first.
Unicef started the day in sixth place despite being one of the most northerly positioned teams as it was one of the furthest west — but has since jumped into pole position thanks to its hard turn to starboard, a move in which it was joined by Dare to Lead.
Unicef skipper Bob Beggs reports: “The last 24 hours have been idyllic, flat seas, sunny, with just 10 knots of wind. The spinnaker run came to an end overnight as the wind started to back easterly and head the fleet. We now have perfect Yankee 1 conditions, with a gentle 25 degrees angle of heel.
“Some evasive action was taken during the night to avoid a ten-mile-long fishing net. Skipper Matt Mitchell on PSP Logistics called up on VHF radio to warn the fleet behind him (unfortunately all of us) of the danger, as the team was caught up in it. They were however able to free themselves from the net with little effect on their lead.
“Matt is no stranger to these waters, it’s his third race to Qingdao and he knows a trick or too when escaping these massive nets. Thanks for the warning Matt.”
PSP Logistics led the push north this morning but lay in fifth place. By virtue of their position further east and closest to Qingdao, Sanya Serenity Coast were second with Liverpool 2018 in third and Visit Seattle in fourth.
Skipper Matt Mitchell onboard PSP Logistics reports: “Another day goes by and it’s actually been quite pleasant with a light headwind and warm sun. The breeze is starting to pick up now though and life is definitely on the lean again!”
GREAT Britain was in sixth this morning, on the same heading as PSP Logistics, and with a more positive report from skipper Nikki Henderson: “The wind finally came — with PSP Logistics and Sanya Serenity Coast reappearing on the AIS which was a boost for the crew.
“We are now sailing upwind in a smooth sea and bright sunshine — both things that I expect won’t last for long, so we are soaking it in and enjoying the day. Liverpool 2018 are just ahead of us and sailing very well. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be able to quite keep up with them but we are definitely trying our best!”
Conall Morrison’s HotelPlanner.com and Garmin were neck-and-neck in line with each other, in eighth and ninth place respectively. On Garmin, skipper Gaëtan Thomas reports today that his team are feeling frustrated in seemingly lighter winds, doing all they can to increase boat speed.
“The pirates (Garmin crew) are trimming and trying different things to see if our speed will increase but we are still going slower than all the fleet. We checked if our keel and rudders are trawling some nets which would explain our lack of speed, but it is all clear down there.
“The race is just at its beginning though so we will keep sailing and see the result later but for the moment, it's all in the same direction, same wind, same angle, so we will find out why we are so slow … hopefully!”
At the back of the fleet, a boat-to-boat transfer took place this morning, as Qingdao skipper Chris Kobusch, in tenth, explains: “This morning we finished our first fresh water tank, wanted to start the watermaker and discovered that the bleed screw on the pump was missing. Without it the water maker can’t build up the required pressure and therefore we would not be able to make any fresh water.
“Luckily Nasdaq, who had the required spare on board was close by and we deviated from our course to meet up with Rob and his team to do the transfer a few hours ago. All went well and we now have a working watermaker again. Thanks to the Nasdaq team for helping us out!”
Eleventh-placed Nasdaq skipper Rob Graham adds: “Everything went smoothly and I think both crews enjoyed the novelty of putting into practice something which we had trained for. Both boats have now resumed racing, and (in our case at least) dodging trawlers as we go. We managed to safely pick our way past an oil field overnight — the huge platforms look like a scene from Blade Runner when they are lit up at night.”
The race committee will convene to decide on the awarding of redress and an announcement will be made on this shortly. Meanwhile, the wind is forecast to build further today before easing off tomorrow, before coming in pretty strong on Thursday into Friday as the fleet approaches the south end of Taiwan.
The final section of the Asia-Pacific Leg 5, officially known as Race 8: The Sailing City Qingdao Cup, has got underway following the inaugural Clipper Round the World Yacht Race Stopover in Sanya, China.
Sanya, which made its debut on the Clipper 2017-18 Race route, lived up to its reputation for putting on a spectacular show with a final departure ceremony for the Clipper Race fleet that included three performances, including the lion dance, and a speech from Sanya’s Deputy Mayor, Mayor Xu. She said: “Sanya’s tropical climate and clean, warm waters make it the perfect place to host large international yacht races like the Clipper Race and these events will help the popularity of sailing flourish.
“The Sanya Government has spared no efforts to ensure the Clipper Race partnership is a big success and we look forward to welcoming the Clipper Race back in the future!”
After slipping lines at Sanya Serenity Marina, the only Asian Marina to hold the Marina Industries Platinum Five Gold Anchor status, and the highest possible level of accreditation, teams geared up for the race start in a steady breeze in front of Sanya’s iconic Phoenix Island.
HotelPlanner.com, Skippered by Irish Yachtsman Conall Morrison, who was recently named the Irish Sailor for December by Afloat.ie, got off to a solid start to the 1,700 nautical mile race to Qingdao.
Speaking shortly before Race Start, Conall said: “I’m really looking forward to this race to Qingdao though the HotelPlanner.com crew probably doesn’t enjoy upwind conditions the best, so there are a few changes we’ve made from the last race, which was largely downwind light conditions, to accommodate that.”
After completing a short inshore route, which passed the Nanshan statue, the Clipper Race fleet raced away from Sanya and will navigate the Kuroshio Current as it heads north, where the scorching heat will be replaced by freezing conditions.
ClipperRace Director Mark Light said: “The majority of Race 8 is likely to be upwind conditions, certainly as they race off the East coast of Taiwan, and there is the North flowing warm Kuroshio current as well.
“The predominant north-easterly winds combined with the Kuroshio Current heading in the opposite direction, there will be wind over tide and that can create quite heavy seas and short but sharp waves.
“As the teams head further north, the heavy weather tends to be replaced by fog and that will provide a different challenge for the fleet.”
The race to Qingdao is expected to take between ten to twelve days, with the fleet expected to arrive into the Wanda Yacht Club between the 13 and 16 of March.
This will be the seventh time the Clipper Race has included Qingdao on its global racing route, with the city the longest serving partner of the race. For the first time, Clipper Race crews will berth at the newly constructed Wanda Yacht Club, a state of the art facility in western Qingdao which demonstrates how the sailing industry continues to expand in China’s Sailing City in the ten years since hosting the Beijing Olympic Games Sailing Events.
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is unique in that it is the only event on the planet which trains non-professional sailors to become ocean racers. Approximately 40 per cent of crew members have never sailed before they sign up. 40,000 nautical miles in length, the circumnavigation is divided into eight legs.
Around 200 people representing 22 different nationalities and all walks of life are taking part in the race to Qingdao, including four Irish crew on board HotelPlanner.com.
Since the Clipper 2017-18 Race began on August 20, 2017 in Liverpool, Roseann and her HotelPlanner.com team have crossed three oceans and taken part in seven races, the highlight being a win in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Clipper 70 Class, which doubled as Race 5.
Following the Qingdao Stopover, the Clipper Race fleet will depart again on March 23 for the Mighty Pacific Leg 6, a 5,600 nautical mile race across the world’s biggest and remote ocean to Seattle. From there, the teams will race on to Panama, New York, Derry-Londonderry, and Liverpool, where the Clipper 2017-18 Race will finish on July 28 2018.
All 11 teams came into port within 21 hours, led by leg winners PSP Logistics, with Dare to Lead taking second place from Qingdao after redress for its diversion earlier in the leg; home team Sanya Serenity Coast in fourth; and Unicef and Visit Seattle completing a busy night.
Liverpool 2018 kicked things off in the daylight hours, crossing the line at 10:41:22 local time (02:41:22 Irish time/UTC) on Friday 23 February.
Skipper Lance Shepherd said: “Race 7 was very technical – lots of wind holes but we enjoyed it. Crew morale was high, so it was good overall. It was a little bit frustrating watching the fleet catch us up from behind but we kept all but Nikki and her Visit Seattle team away. She played a blinder in coming round the outside.
“Sanya looks beautiful and I’m looking forward to enjoying all the activities it has to offer.”
Two hours later, Nasdaq and Garmin both rounded the peninsula at virtually the same time. Both teams had eighth place in their sights but in the end, it was Nasdaq which crossed the line first, five minutes ahead of Garmin.
Nasdaq skipper Rob Graham said: “That was great, exciting right down to the last three-and-a-half minutes or so. It was very close for the last 20 miles. We had an issue with getting our spinnaker down so we sent our hobbit (Tom Boys) up the mast and we got the kite down and we just made it over the line ahead of Garmin.
“We’re really pleased with the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint result – we did get lucky with the weather. Some of the earlier boats had very light winds. We managed to time it just right for the best winds. And shot across the sprint. We had to work really hard to make the most of the luck with the weather but we’re really pleased with the result."
Graham added: “Having my face up at Times Square for my birthday was a huge surprise – I’ll have to take a look at the photos once we’ve got the boat sorted out.”
The inshore victory capped off what has been a very solid race for Nasdaq, with the team going from 11 to eighth in the final 24 hours of racing, and it also adds four crucial bonus points to its overall total after being the quickest in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, and the third team through the Scoring Gate.
Nasdaq’s nine total race points equals its previous best haul from when the team came fourth in Race 5, from Sydney to Hobart.
Garmin also earned two bonus points in Race 7 after being second through the Scoring Gate. The bonus points were a welcome reward for the team after what was a tough race.
Arriving into port, Garmin circumnavigator Gerardo Injoque, from Peru, spoke of his thoughts on the race: “It was really good, we had great weather, really nice sailing most of the time but the heat was something really hard to cope with. In my opinion it was the hardest challenge it was really tough, even when you try to get to sleep it was so hot down there.
“We made it though, we are here, I am thrilled. My first time in China so really looking forward to it here. I thought we were just arriving to a small island a few beaches and buildings, but this is huge. The skyline is huge, and with all the boats it looks very nice. I’m really looking forward to walking around the city and seeing everything.”
Forty-eight minutes behind Garmin was HotelPlanner.com, which crossed the finish line in 10th place at 14:17:46 local time (06:17:46 UTC) with novice sailor Roseann McGlincheyRoseann McGlinchey among its celebratory crew.
Skipper Conall Morrison said: “It was really tough. We didn’t have the best start but we are all here in good health and happy to here. We had a nice race there at the end with Nasdaq, Garmin and GREAT Britain so it was pretty close, pretty tight with that.
“Over the last couple of days bringing the wind with us and catching the leaders, closing in the miles, was fun. It’s nice to be here in Sanya all at the same time. It’s really cool, I love the mountains and the big city.”
Greg Glover, Hotelplanner.com circumnavigator, added: “It was tough, you know it was hot but it was beautiful sailing. The weather was fantastic. It was great we had a lot of fun.
“I was really impressed by the coastline as we came up here, it was quite a rugged skyline then the high-rise buildings started popping up around the place. Sanya looks a bit like Hawaii, it feels really cool to be here.”
GREAT Britain completed the arrivals, crossing the line at 09:07:21 UTC (17:07:21 local). While the team will only collect two race points for the 11th-place finish, it will finish with a respectable four points after setting the second fastest time in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.
Next up for the Clipper Race crew will be the official Race 7 prizegiving on Monday 26 February. As well as the presentation of pennants and awards, the crew will be entertained by traditional dancers and treated to dinner on the lawns of the Sanya Serenity Coast Marina Club Garden. Weather permitting, the prizegiving will be shown on the Clipper Race Live page on Facebook.
Before setting sail from Liverpool on August 20, 2017, Clipper 2017-18 Race round the world crew member Roseann McGlinchey’s total sailing experience only consisted of three levels of Clipper Race training. Seven months and over 20,000 nautical miles later, it’s fair to say a lot has changed.
Since the Clipper 2017-18 Race began on August 20, 2017 in Liverpool, Roseann and her HotelPlanner.com team have crossed three oceans and taken part in seven races, the highlight being a win in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Clipper 70 Class, which doubled as Race 5. But still the 24-year-old, who is from Lifford, Ireland, and studied in Derry-Londonderry, has trouble believing what she has already accomplished at the half way point of the race.
“It hasn’t sunk in on how far we’ve sailed!” says Roseann.
“Some days it feels like we haven’t even left Liverpool. How did I make it half way round the world from not even being able to sail before?
“At the start, I was quite nervous moving around the boat, and getting used to everything and learning where everything was and the process was quite difficult to understand. But the more we’ve done it, the more we’ve improved and my Skipper, Conall Morrison, has been great explaining and coaching us through everything. So, I feel my skills have definitely developed.”
Roseann’s skills have developed to the point that she is now one of the Watch Leaders on board HotelPlanner.com, a position she has found really rewarding.
She explains: “It’s been really nice to be so young and being able to lead teams. It was something I had never done before the Clipper Race. I think we did a really good job this race teaching the new crew, helping them learn to be just as good as the round the worlders. They were all really confident by the end and could do everything that we could which was really nice to see.”
Another sign of how far Roseann has come since she first began her Clipper Race journey is her reaction to the Southerly Busters that hit the fleet in the race from Hobart to Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays. Of the 80 knot winds and electrical storms, Roseann says: “We couldn’t even see the difference from the sky and the sea, it was so pitch black after the lightning. I’d never seen anything like that before so it was really cool!”
Hotelplanner.com, led by Derry-Londonderry Skipper Conall Morrison, is currently expected to arrive in Sanya between 0700 and 1300 local time Friday February (2300 UTC Thursday 22 February and 0500 UTC Friday 23 February)
#ClipperRace - For the sixth day in a row, Qingdao maintains its lead over the rest of its competitors at the front of the Clipper Race fleet, as the leading pack turns to the west for the final 700 nautical miles to Sanya.
On Day 19 of Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race, the teams are concentrating on maintaining focus, working hard and holding their spinnakers while navigating the busy waters of the South China Sea.
On board Qingdao, skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “PSP Logistics is hot on our heels though and Sanya Serenity Coast plus Dare To Lead are closing in too. 640nm to the finish and again the racing is incredibly tight. Every little mistake can cost a position, but hopefully we can stay focused and concentrated on the home stretch and, with a little bit of luck, a podium position might be in sight. Fingers crossed!”
PSP Logistics is close behind and less than 50 nautical miles is all that separates the two teams after 19 days of racing.
Despite reporting that the team faced some interesting conditions last night, including a lumpy sea state, skipper Matt Mitchell said: “Progress is good and we are pointing in more or less the right direction. The next few days will tell though as I don't think any of the leading boats can sail directly to Sanya, meaning both gains and losses will be made on the gybe angles that we choose to take.”
Dare To Lead retains third place and a potential podium finish. Skipper Dale Smyth said: “Well a good fast night under spinnaker after the wind came through from the north east. We are currently approaching the north end of the Philippine Islands and nightfall should see us through into the China Sea and around 700 nautical miles left.
“It feels like it’s getting close now but we still need to keep concentrating and keep our focus up for the last few days.”
For Sanya Serenity Coast, currently fourth, the hope for a podium finish into its home port is still within reach. Skipper Wendy Tuck said: “We are now on that final run for the finish. We do have our work cut out for us to catch those boats in front of us, but we never give up and the team is pumped to give it their best shot. Morale is great on board, everyone is working well and the boat is sailing well.”
The steady winds from the north have meant settled conditions for the most northerly yacht, fifth-placed Unicef. Only the next few days will tell whether its positioning pays off for the downwind run to Sanya compared to that of Liverpool 2018 over 100nm to the south but only 17nm behind on the leaderboard in sixth.
The chasing pack is still in the midst of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint. Visit Seattle, though leading the charge in seventh, is only just breaking free of the wind hole that hampered progress yesterday. Skipper Nikki Henderson said: “Another sprint - aka another driftathon. We have just started edging forwards after 12 hours in a hole.”
Garmin has opted to activate Stealth Mode and so is hidden its position from its competitors until 6am Irish time/UTC tomorrow morning (Monday 19 February) and means Conall Morrison’s HotelPlanner.com moves into eighth on the leaderboard.
For Nasdaq at ninth and GREAT Britain at 10th, however, the later start to the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint has meant that they are experiencing better conditions than some of the fleet.
Nasdaq skipper Rob Graham said: “We’ve been having a good run across our Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint: we started last night under Code 1 (lightweight spinnaker), then the wind filled in from the north east for us and we’re trucking along under the Code 3 (heavyweight spinnaker).”
GREAT Britain skipper Dave Hartshorn is also pleased with his team’s progress and is holding hope to pick up some of the bonus points on offer.
“Now on an athletics track, you would not want to be last out of the blocks for a sprint, however beginning the last boat over the start line on this occasion may have its advantages,” he said. “Time will tell, as the winds look pretty consistent for the next 30 hours or so with good wind speeds and angles.”
Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell reports that the north-easterlies are coming through now and over the next 24 hours they should veer and ease.
For the yachts still east of the Luzon Strait, they will see this affect more so than those to the west. Then as the high-pressure system that is driving the wind goes further east, it will leave less steady breeze for two to three days before the next batch fills in again.
Shifting winds have meant that many in the fleet have had to take down spinnakers, but the teams are continuing to maintain excellent speeds towards the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.
Qingdao maintains its position on top with some 1,465 nautical miles to go as of noon Irish time/UTC. Skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “The wind has shifted to the north and we are now sailing upwind at our preferred angle of 45 degrees heel.”
While he jokes about what living at an angle means for living conditions below deck, Kobusch adds: “At least we are still sailing into the right direction at good speeds and the on-deck sailing is great fun.”
It has felt like Groundhog Day as opposed to Valentine’s Day for second-placed Sanya Serenity Coast skipper Wendy Tuck, but less than 40nm further back in third, PSP Logistics skipper Matt Mitchell is enjoying changing weather conditions.
“Progress has been great and we are rarely below 12 knots at the moment with white sails up, sailing a slightly higher wind angle as we negotiate the next weather system making its way across the fleet,” he says.
Demonstrating how localised the conditions appear to be, fourth-placed Dare To Lead skipper Dale Smyth is feeling frustrated with his progress, commenting: “We have been caught up in a massive rain squall and it has now left us drifting in a huge windless hole while we can literally feel the competition sailing away from us.”
Further north in the leading pack, sixth-placed Unicef has progressed much better and moved up as high as fifth place earlier today, though with the wind a little far forward and strengthening, the team is proceeding under white sails without spinnakers.
Liverpool 2018, meanwhile, had slipped a position to sixth before reclaiming fifth, and had a strange encounter with a long line buoy, although it did not cause the team any problems.
Visit Seattle is currently leading the chasing pack in seventh place, 200nm behind the lead boat, but skipper Nikki Henderson reports: “Unfortunately we have just slowed right down — the trades are weakening. Doing our best to stay ahead of Garmin [in eighth] which is sailing excellently. It’s feeling less and less likely that we are going to be able to catch the guys ahead but — hey ho — it’s not so bad out here anyway.”
Another team struggling with the weakening winds is ninth-placed HotelPlanner.com, with skipper Conall Morrison explaining: “Last night we got caught in a patch of light winds that does not seem to have affected the rest of the fleet and so have lost some ground. We've been through our suite of spinnakers today and have settled on the Code 3 (heavyweight spinnaker) for now.”
Further back in 10th place is Nasdaq, though skipper Rob Graham is pleased that his team is settling into a well-established routine.
“Just helming and trimming for small fluctuations in the wind, and sail changes according to larger changes. We have safely crossed the Mariana Trench (the world's deepest patch of water) without being gobbled up by any of the weird creatures that live down there.”
Having taken a more easterly route, GREAT Britain is in 11th position and is back on track after retrieving one of its spinnakers from underneath the boat.
Skipper David Hartshorn explains: “After some brilliant team work and some lateral thinking and a good hour and a half’s hard work, the Code 2 (mediumweight spinnaker) was back on board. It will sadly not be joining us for the rest of this race -- the damage is just a bit too much to repair while at sea.
“The best part of this whole event was the debrief, which was really positive with five different learning outcomes and, most importantly of all, the “why” of each outcome was nailed.”
While the veering east-southeast to southeast winds will decrease steadily over the next 24 hours, the good news for the fleet is that the northeast monsoon winds are expected to return around the Luzon Strait in the coming days to help push the teams towards Sanya.
#ClipperRace - Relief is the overriding emotion among the Clipper Race fleet on Day 12 of Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race as the trade winds which continue to boost progress at the front have now also kicked in for the western-positioned teams, bringing a change of gear and mentality boost in this hot, testing race.
PSP Logistics came out of Stealth Mode overnight in the lead position, positioned furthest north in the fleet. Skipper Matt Mitchell explains: “We’ve been making great progress in secret squirrel mode, with speeds in the low teens constantly. Once the squalls were out of the way yesterday we had a brilliant run with clear sky and very stable wind. It definitely made all the light wind and waiting worthwhile!”
“Today has been another fast-paced day although we have just had a squall pass overhead that had a little over 30 knots of wind under it,” he adds. “We kept the Code 3 (heavyweight spinnaker) up and rode the boost that it gave us, an hour of 15 knots plus boat speed to really push us on our way! We are expecting the wind to remain as it is until we get to the Philippines so fingers crossed there will be nothing to slow us down too much.”
Qingdao, positioned in the centre of the fleet is now second, and Sanya Serenity Coast is third. Sanya skipper Wendy Tuck explains that it’s not only the trade winds progress that has brought relief over the past 24 hours.
“Yesterday after the blog was sent off, we started to get into squally land. The first one didn’t bring much, the second one bought a heap of rain, a little increase in wind but rain, glorious rain, the deck was awash with soapy suds and general splashing around, it was truly glorious. It got to the point that I was a little cold, never thought I would say that on this leg, and it was a treat.”
The best progress continues to be made by the teams in the central and eastern positions of the fleet, where boast speeds are currently averaging 11 knots. Unicef is in fourth, Dare to Lead in fifth and Liverpool 2018 in sixth.
However, the three teams that went west to get the Scoring Gate points have now finally joined in the trade winds party.
Visit Seattle in seventh leads the western trio where boat speeds have picked up to almost 9 knots, with skipper Nikki Henderson reporting: “This morning the wind finally filled in. Not from where it was forecast to (we are getting pretty used to that around here) but near enough. And it's been consistent - and it came with no rain!”
Another skipper enjoying the relief that squalls bring, Henderson adds: “Every other wind we have had for the last — what is it — four days has come with torrential downpours. They are absolute bliss. We had one yesterday afternoon just before dinner and dusk. You have no idea how fantastic it feels after baking all day in the sun, and sleeping in pools of sweat, to have 8/8 cloud cover, cool breeze and rain.
“I've got to say though, despite the wind holes and the heat we are all well aware that in a month's time when we are in Qingdao about to cross the Pacific and it's minus something degrees, we will look back at this fondly.”
Garmin skipper Gaëtan Thomas, positioned just behind Visit Seattle in the west, in ninth position, is pleased to be finally making progress.
“Since a few hours ago we are finally moving! I thought our destiny was to stay around here forever! The race isn't finished yet, so we still hoping to get some positions back, a bit of breeze definitely would help. At least we are less suffocated with a bit of air circulating inside the boat.
“I am impressed how well the team is working together in this heat, when sleeping is difficult, when losing positions can affect the morale, my pirates are still joking, still fighting, still smiling and I am proud of them.”
Conall Morrison’s HotelPlanner.com is up one position in eighth place and Nasdaq is 10th, but with their first Clipper Race bonus point from the Scoring Gate. GREAT Britain, meanwhile, is currently in Stealth Mode following a 247-nautical-mile run in the past 24 hours. Skipper David Hartshorn says: “The sailing this end at the moment is GREAT. It’s been worth the wait and the long slog over the last fortnight. Code 3 (heavyweight kite) is up, still a pretty flat sea, squall activity has significantly died off in the last 24 hours.
“The Velocity Made Good (VMG) towards Sanya is at last beginning to start spinning at nearly the same rate as the boat speed. The crew are really working hard at helming and trimming, which is beginning to pay off for us. The development of the crew has been impressive, lots of support between themselves, it’s been exciting to watch their confidence and skills grow.”
With the reefs and islands north of Papua New Guinea now out of the way, teams are aiming for the next waypoint of this race, north of the Philippines, some 1,600nm ahead of the leading team, and will pass over the Mariana Trench — the deepest area of ocean on the planet, greater than the highest mountains in the Himalayas.
#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.