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#ClipperRace - There’s been plenty of movement on the leaderboard, but none of the Clipper Race teams have broken away amid the tight racing conditions on Day 2 of Race 12 from New York to Derry-Londonderry, Thursday 28 June.

The split that appeared shortly after Tuesday’s Le Mans start became less noticeable overnight, with less than 20 nautical miles (nm) separating first from 10th.

However, that spread did widen almost four-fold over the next 24 hours, with a clear break between the first five teams, within 30nm, and the chasing pack from sixth to 10th.

Eleventh-placed PSP Logistics, meanwhile, is 30nm from its nearest competitor as the team persists in its search of the Gulf Stream with its southerly route.

While no stranger to taking a different tactic to the rest of the fleet, PSP Logistics skipper Matt Mitchell knows he is taking a risk, commenting: “Hopefully over the next 24 hours coming south will start to pay off.”

With the majority of the fleet in AIS range, there is little room for error, as Dare To Lead skipper Dale Smyth explains: “We are still tightly packed as a group so any small decision cannot be taken lightly.”

The pressure to make the right call is weighing on the skippers, especially as the results of this penultimate race of the circumnavigation could go a long way to deciding what teams will be on the podium at Race Finish in Liverpool.

Visit Seattle skipper Nikki Henderson shone a light on her thought process, saying: “There is positive current down south - but that’s sailing more miles and last time we sailed for current we ended up 150nm behind the fleet.

“There is a better wind angle up north - but 4 knots of current for 200 miles, I mean, are we really going to pass that by? And there is negative current where we we’re going - but at the time it was faster.”

Race 12 has special significance to Derry-Londonderry local Conall Morrison, and so far, the HotelPlanner.com skipper is enjoying the race home across the Atlantic, reporting: “What a lovely sailing day on Hotelplanner.com: it is thrilling to see the whole fleet so close together and be able to trump each other or see them pull away.

“The fleet seems to mix up quite a bit on the way along the northerly Ice limits. It seems to have separated into two major groups, one staying further south and the other following the rhumb line a little to the north.”

Being back in the North Atlantic is driving home how much the teams have accomplished over the past 10 months. Unicef skipper Bob Begg reflects: “In two and a half days from now, we will pass due North of Punta Del Este in Uruguay, which means we will have circled the planet crossing every line of longitude. This is the first benchmark for the round the worlder crew onboard Unicef.”

Those onboard Nasdaq are also celebrating the milestone, with skipper Rob Graham commenting: “We sailed off the edge of the coastal chart today and are now marking our position on the ‘North Atlantic, Northern Part’ chart that still shows our positions from Leg 1 back in August. A cause for excitement that we're getting closer to the finish and reflection on how far we’ve come, how much we've learned, and how much has happened in between.”

The good breeze is set to continue for the coming days and will help drive the fleet to what will be their final destination before the 40,000 nautical mile, 11-month circumnavigation comes to an end in Liverpool on 28 July.

Published in Clipper Race

The Clipper Race fleet has captured a spectacular vision of the pod of whales that joined the teams for the Le Mans style start of the penultimate race of the 40,000 nautical mile, eleven-month circumnavigation - a two-week race across the North Atlantic to Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

The race to Ireland began in perfect champagne sailing conditions under bright blue skies off the coast of Long Island, New York, USA. Clipper Race team Sanya Serenity Coast was quick off the mark, followed closely by Nasdaq, though it quickly became apparent that it wouldn't be a straightforward start.

HotelPlanner.com Skipper Conall Morrison, who hails from Derry-Londonderry and learned to sail on Lough Swilly, says: "It is thrilling to see the whole fleet so close together and be able to trump each other or see them pull away. We got treated with whale sightings and a pod of dolphins as we sail along the continental shelf on top of it all. A huge whale cruised past us as we were going along at 8 knots ... he must have been in a hurry."

GREAT Britain Skipper Dave Hartshorn adds: "10 minutes after the Le Mans start, the point when you are free to choose your own course and point of sail, we could see coming towards a series of blow spouts of whales breaking water to breathe.

"As the fleet charged forward, it was if there were large puffs of smoke from small explosions breaking out across the water between the boats.

More than 200 people from all walks of life and representing 23 different nationalities are taking part in the race to Derry-Londonderry, including six from Ireland.

Race 12: The LegenDerry Race is expected to take up to 19 days, with the Clipper Race fleet estimated to arrive in Derry-Londonderry between 10-14 July – just in time for the Foyle Maritime Festival. The award-winning festival will run from Saturday 14 July until the fleet departs for Liverpool on Sunday 22 July.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - After bidding farewell to the Big Apple in style yesterday (Monday 25 June), the Clipper Race fleet has regrouped off Long Island ahead of today’s Le Mans start of Race 12: The LegenDerry Race from New York to Derry-Londonderry.

The 3,000-nautical-mile stage is due to begin at 2pm local time (7pm Irish time), and according to Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell, the teams should see the breeze gradually build to 10 knots and veer to south-southeast for the start.

But while the wind will keep building and veering over the coming days, visibility will be a concern at times, with fog developing at the centre of the new high cell as it moves east.

For now, all is well, with the fleet treated to several whale sightings and a dolphin show or two whilst going through refresher sailing training and MOB drills.

It also has been a time for reflection ahead of what will be the sixth and final ocean crossing of the 2017-18 edition of the Clipper Race.

Unicef skipper Bob Beggs says: “This our final ocean crossing and cannot be taken for granted. The North Atlantic can be as tough as any and needs to be given respect. Still, the weather forecast is fair at the present time.”

Visit Seattle skipper Nikki Henderson has also been thinking about the last big ocean race, adding: “Now our minds look to Derry-Londonderry – 3,000 nautical miles or so in the distance - and of home to Liverpool. It feels a significant moment as we head out to start our last ocean crossing of the race.

“Let’s hope we have a successful race, and hold our place on the leaderboard, and most importantly - have a fun crossing!”

While Visit Seattle, currently third in the overall standings, has opted to save its Joker Card for the final race from Derry-Londonderry to Liverpool, Unicef and PSP Logistics have decided to play the device now and double any race points earned in Race 12.

PSP Logistics skipper Matt Mitchell says: “The team is super keen to get stuck in to this race and it's all to play for in the Autumn stages of this round the world race.”

With just 15 points currently separating PSP Logistics in fifth from the second placed Qingdao, the latter’s skipper Chris Kobusch knows a lot is riding on Race 12.

“For us it will be a tough last Leg, as Visit Seattle and PSP Logistics both still have to play their Joker Card and might then either take our second place or be very close behind. The next two races will decide who gets onto the podium.”

This is the fourth consecutive time the Clipper Race fleet has raced across the Atlantic to Derry-Londonderry, and it will be a special homecoming for skipper Conall Morrison and the Irish members of his HotelPlanner.com team.

After being bid farewell by Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, in New York, Conall says: “I am now, more than ever looking forward to this LegenDerry Race into my own home port and am very proud to have such a great and happy team along with me.”

Race 12: The LegenDerry Race is expected to take up to 19 days, with the Clipper Race fleet estimated to arrive in Derry-Londonderry between 10-14 July – just in time for the Foyle Maritime Festival.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - The Clipper Race team of HotelPlanner.com led by Conall Morrison were in excellent spirits as they entered Liberty Landing Marina after taking seventh place in Race 11: Nasdaq Race from Panama to New York.

Greeted dockside by supporters and crew members hours after crossing the line at 11.39pm Irish time last night (Wednesday 13 June), skipper Morrison praised his hardworking team for keeping spirits high during the 10-day dash through the Caribbean and the Eastern Seaboard.

Conall and crew were the last to make port after a busy day of arrivals for the Clipper Race fleet, beginning with Race 11 winners PSP Logistics — who crossed the finish line some 55 nautical miles out from New York City at 3.41pm Irish time yesterday.

Speaking on arrival after his team’s second race win of the 2017-18 edition, skipper Matt Mitchell said: “It was a little bit touch and go towards the end but we made it. As a team I think we needed the win, we’ve had a bit of bad luck since the race into Qingdao, China, so it is good to get the win and hopefully it is a sign of our fortunes changing.”

Chinese entry Sanya Serenity Coast, led by Australian skipper Wendy Tuck, crossed the finish line at two hours and 40 minutes later to claim second place, the team’s sixth podium out of 11 — strengthening its lead in the overall standings going into the the circumnavigation’s final leg.

The GREAT Britain team claimed its second podium in two consecutive races when it crossed the line less than an hour later at 7.18pm to take third place. As well as picking up 10 race points, the team also collected a bonus race point for its third place in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.

On arrival, skipper David Hartshorn said: “This podium feels better than the last one, although that was a great feeling. The team has worked so hard to go from second to fourth and pull it back in the last few hours.

“The team worked really, really well. They thoroughly deserved this podium.”

The battle for the last podium spot came down to the wire, with Unicef coming in just nine minutes behind GREAT Britain.

On arrival into Liberty Landing in Jersey City, across the Hudson from lower Manhattan, Unicef skipper Bob Beggs said: “We had a good mixture of wind and the competition was very tight, all round a very good race.

“The team is coming together and we are working well together as a team, we are looking very confident as we complete the penultimate leg.”

Garmin closely followed the bright blue yacht into the city, and the fifth-placed team was given a warm and lively reception by supporters and fellow Clipper Race crews.

Skipper Gaetan Thomas was in good spirits, commenting: “It had a bit of everything. There was a little bit of a wind lottery at times, but we got two points in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, too, which is great.

“I’ve never been to New York before so to go past Manhattan was incredible – the skyline is amazing.”

Nasdaq was next in sixth place heading into its team partner’s home port. On the 11th race, circumnavigating crew member Ineke Van Der Weijden said: “There was a time that we hoped we would come in a little bit better than sixth but the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint [which the team won, picking up three bonus race points] was awesome, we really went for it.

“We were the first boat to tack early at the start of the race which was a bit nerve wracking but soon others joined us!”

After HotelPlanner.com in sixth, the next team yacht to arrive was Qingdao, over the line at 4.52am Irish time this morning (Thursday 14 June), followed by Visit Seattle (7.18am) and Dare to Lead (9.10am).

Liverpool 2018 is the only team yet to complete Race 11, still some 85nm from the finish line as of 3pm Irish time today.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - The leading pack in the Clipper Race fleet has entered what should be the final 24 hours of Race 11: Nasdaq Race from Panama to New York today (Wednesday 13 June). But finishing positions are still very much up for grabs.

Just like the majority of the legs so far in the 2017-18 race, the end of Race 11 is set to be a close one. The latest ETA has the majority of the teams crossing the finish line within an 11-hour period from mid-afternoon today.

PSP Logistics remains in first place for a fifth consecutive day and has a 30 nautical mile lead on second-placed Sanya Serenity Coast with just 14nm to run until the finish line.

PSP skipper Matt Mitchell was enjoying where his team was at this morning even before the speed picked up, rocketing the boat within sight of the end.

“We are ghosting along towards the finish line with just under 80 nautical miles to go as I write. It’s been a lovely day today with nice clear skies and decent breeze.”

Things are far less settled in the chasing pack. As of 2.30pm Irish time on Wednesday afternoon, 40nm separates second from seventh. And with the wind forecasted to remain patchy for the next 24 hours, the final two spots on the podium are anyone’s.

Dave Hartshorn, skipper of fourth-placed GREAT Britain, explains: “The interesting bit is, no one knows what the end picture looks like. Earlier we were thundering along at 14-15 knots, now we are just making 7 knots.”

Sanya Serenity Coast, currently in second place after overtaking Unicef early on Wednesday, has also been experiencing changeable conditions.

Skipper Wendy Tuck reports: “So, it’s been a very mixed up sort of day. Started off blast reaching smoking along with the aid of the Gulf Stream. It was a bit of a rodeo ride and very splashy but heaps of fun. Then more reaching with an easing wind and sea state. Finally popped the kite and now charging to the finish line.

“Unicef is in our rear-view mirror, snapping at our heals, and over on the other side of the course we have Garmin and Nasdaq … it is a fight to the end.”

In order to podium in its home port of New York, seventh-placed Nasdaq — just a hair behind Conall Morrison’s HotelPlanner.com in sixth — will no doubt be looking for the same speed which saw it win the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.

Nasdaq picked up three bonus points after completing the 180nm sprint in 15 hours, 14 minutes, and 10 seconds, at a very impressive average speed of just under 12 knots.

Garmin was just 29 minutes and 1 second behind to earn two bonus points, while GREAT Britain set the third fastest time, 16 hours, 24 minutes, and 25 seconds - just 15 minutes ahead of the fourth placed Qingdao - to collect one point.

On the push to the finish line, Nasdaq skipper Rob Graham says: “We spent last night weaving around some very shifty winds as a squally weather front passed overhead, then had a few hours storming progress northwards helped by the Gulf Stream.

“Conditions were initially a little sporty for the Code 2 (Mediumweight Spinnaker) but have been easing ever since, so I'm now going back on deck for a peel to the Code 1 (Lightweight Spinnaker).”

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - After a week of racing around the clock in Race 11: Nasdaq Race, the Clipper Race fleet has been keeping everyone guessing as to their Scoring Gate tactics.

The Scoring Gate allows the first three teams that reach it to pick up three, two, or one bonus race point and is a favourite point scoring mechanism for some of the teams.

While Scoring Gate regulars Qingdao and the rest of the leading pack opted out, with Garmin skipper Gaëtan Thomas citing the uncertainty of so many teams remaining in Stealth Mode as of yesterday (Saturday 9 June), the path was cleared for the teams further back in the fleet.

Visit Seattle skipper Nikki Henderson explains: “Last night we pulled our hair out for a few hours going back and forth - to the Scoring Gate or not to the Scoring Gate?

“It was a gamble, but we took it - expecting at the time to come out with one point. So, lo and behold when the scheds came out I nearly fell of the chart table seat! It looks (although I don't know for sure just yet) that no one went - so that was good news for us. Gamble paid off. Great stuff.”

Visit Seattle was followed towards the Scoring Gate by Liverpool 2018, though the results will only be confirmed once formally announced by the Clipper Race Office.

On board Sanya Serenity Coast, which took a middle routing to enable them to have the option of heading to the Scoring Gate, the team is making up the lost ground after deciding to focus on race position.

Sanya skipper Wendy Tuck says: “So now we are trying to make up what we lost out, we still have over 700nm to go so we are trimming, trimming, and trimming. I think those off watch sleeping are dreaming of trimming.”

Across the fleet, teams are enjoying life at less of an angle and as they gear up for the upcoming Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, and are making strong progress under spinnaker towards New York.

Qingdao skipper Chris Kobusch, reports: “Since we passed the Mandatory Gate Graves, the wind has slowly eased and veered which means we have had a flat boat and the spinnakers up again.

“The temperature has dropped a little bit and the stars are out tonight, too. All in all, champagne sailing conditions. And it looks like we will have these at least for the next 250nm until we get to the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, where the forecast suggests an increase in wind again - luckily not in direction though.”

With less than 700 nautical miles left for leading team PSP Logistics, and points up for grabs in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, it will be interesting to watch how the final race of the penultimate leg of the 2017-18 edition plays out in the coming days.

At present speeds and weather forecasts, the first boats are expected to cross the finish line this Friday morning 15 June and arrive at Liberty Landing Marina some eight hours later.

Published in Clipper Race

#MaritimeFestivals - Do you have an urge to get others out on the water enjoying the River Foyle? Are you bursting to share your passion for science? Perhaps you’re just really friendly and feel you’re perfectly suited to welcoming and helping visitors to Derry-Londonderry.

Well now you have the perfect opportunity to do just that!

Anyone from the age of 16 up now has the chance to be involved in one of the biggest events in Ireland this summer by volunteering during Foyle Maritime Festival which runs from July 14th – July 22nd this year.

Aisling McCallion, Festival and Events Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council said: “Volunteering can be a great way of adding to your experience or giving something back to your community. The Foyle Maritime Festival is looking to add to our existing team of event volunteers and we currently have roles available in a wide range of areas.

“We are looking for enthusiastic people to join our team and help us create an enjoyable, safe and friendly festival for visitors and international guests.

“You’ll have the opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills, build your CV and give back to your community while soaking up the fun at this world class festival. Lunch will be provided each day of your volunteering and a certificate of appreciation will be awarded.”

Volunteering opportunities include On the Water activity assistants, Welcome and Information assistants, main stage assistants, Science of Water marquee assistants, The Docks Zone assistants and event production assistants.

Whether it’s a teenager (16 and over) who wants to find something exciting to do during the summer holidays, a young person needing to gain vital experience in the field of their chosen profession or an older resident keen to enjoy the company of newcomers to the city, opportunities abound.

Tom Adams from Limavady can speak from experience about the benefits of volunteering, especially at such a high profile event as Foyle Maritime Festival.

Tom said: “I volunteered during the last Foyle Maritime Festival and I’m putting my name down again this year. I really enjoy meeting people and being able to help them out by signposting them to the various events and attractions. You get such a good feeling, especially when people come up to you to say what a wonderful place it is. It feels good to be helpful.

“Volunteering is great for getting you out of the house and keeping you busy so it’s good for both your mental and physical health.

“I work during the week but I spend my weekends volunteering and I’m really looking forward to Foyle Maritime Festival 2018.”

While the posts are unpaid, there are a range of benefits such as food allowance, a crew uniform, a volunteer recognition event and a certificate as well as free World Host training.

Volunteers are requested to give a minimum of 4 hours over the week of the event.

To make an expression of interest, apply online at: foylemaritime.com or email: [email protected] by Wednesday, June 20th, 2018.

A volunteer briefing will take place at The Guildhall on Wednesday, June 27th at 2 pm.

The Foyle Maritime Festival has a wealth of activities and attractions on offer to locals and visitors alike. Up to 160,000 people are expected to attend the nine day festival which culminates with a spectacular Voyages showcase before waving farewell to the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race fleet.

 To find out more about Foyle Maritime Festival 2018, visit www.foylemaritimefestival.com or you can follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/foylemaritimefestival and on Twitter @Foylemaritime

Published in Maritime Festivals

#ClipperRace - Wednesday’s game of snakes and ladders continues to disrupt the Race 11 leaderboard, but Day 4 (Thursday 7 June) has seen the majority of the Clipper Race fleet converge for the first time since Monday’s start.

For the teams that decided to head east at the beginning of the race, tactics have paid off, with PSP Logistics storming ahead rising up the ranks from fourth place yesterday to hold a 20 nautical mile (nm) lead on the pack.

Although PSP Logistics’ skipper Matt Mitchell is pleased with progress, he and the team know all too well the perils of ocean racing and in his report today, the leading skipper remained modest, saying: “It’s not been too bad over the last day with the wind fairly steady at around 15 knots.

“We managed to get around the first mark of the course without too much fuss and are now heading at speed towards the abyss that is the Windward Passage. Fingers crossed the wind holds as it can be a bit disconcerting being so close to land without any wind to steer with.”

Progress has been good on board Nasdaq, which has also been reaping the benefits of the early easterly route and is now in fifth place. Skipper Rob Graham explains: “Although our ‘eat your sprouts first’ tactic of heading east early worked out well, Nasdaq had seemed to struggle a little for boat speed compared to the boats around it.

“Speed has picked up now and we’re now making better progress towards the Windward Passage between Haiti and Jamaica, in a drag race with Garmin which is close beside us.”

The fleet has now split into two clear groups, with eight teams to the north — 30nm separating PSP from Qingdao and Conall Morrison’s HotelPlanner.com in a battle for seventh place — and three teams hunting the pack to the south, more than 100nm behind the leader.

The southerly teams have had a frustrating 24 hours for different reasons. On board Dare To Lead, skipper Dale Smyth explains: “We just struggle to match height and speed on other boats. We continue to work on sail shape, helming and weight distribution but unfortunately find ourselves trailing. Anyway, still a long way to go.”

For Liverpool 2018, fickle wind angles and current has held back progress and on board Visit Seattle, spirits remain high despite the hold backs as skipper Nikki Henderson comments: “Well, things just didn't work out in our favour in the last 24 hours. Not to worry though - we still have a way to go.”

Looking ahead, there is no respite to be had in the coming 24 hours, with Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell observing that the breeze is largely flowing from the north, the sea state will likely become shorter and messier than the fleet has had up until now. Rowell also notes a tropical wave upwind of the fleet that may bring some squalls in the teams’ path.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - Life at an angle continues on Tuesday 5 June — Day 2 of Race 11: Nasdaq Race from Panama to New York — with the Clipper Race teams calculating their best approach to the first mandatory gate between Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

The fleet remains split in two after yesterday’s start, though all teams are now on a starboard northerly tack. The group to the west remains strongest on the leaderboard, but the racing is tight in the leading pack, with just 18 nautical miles between first and eighth place.

Sanya Serenity Coast is currently second in the standings and skipper Wendy Tuck comments: “We have another day or so to go bashing away upwind and then the tricky tactics of which way to go through the islands. We are in AIS range with about six other boats so always nice to have company.”

Conall Morrison, skipper of third-placed HotelPlanner.com, adds: “Lots of boats are close on AIS and we can compare performance and sail plans against each other. PSP Logistics, GREAT Britain, and Nasdaq have taken a different route from the bulk of the fleet so time will tell which option works out better.”

PSP Logistics remains the most easterly team and those on board are still getting used to close-hauled racing, as skipper Matt Mitchell explains: “We should have a few days of this before we can get north enough to break out of the headwinds where we are likely to get some light winds before getting into the Trades proper to the north.”

While the east-north-easterly wind has strengthened slightly in the last 24 hours, so far, the tropics have been kind, with only a little squall activity expected ahead.

And in further good news, Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell reports that as the ridge of the high-pressure system heads north, it should result in a burst of wind to move the fleet through the Caribbean island maze.

The 1,900 nautical mile race to New York is expected to take approximately 12 days, with the teams due to arrive at Liberty Landing Marina between next Thursday 14 and Friday 16 June.

While Race 11 is comparatively shorter than previous ocean crossings the crews have experienced so far, it is a tactically tough race as the route passes through a complex arrangement of islands and reefs.

Following this, fickle winds are also expected off North America so the competition will be one of frequent sail changes. Distance will be lost as quickly as it is gained so the pressure is on for the fleet.

Clipper Race director Mark Light explains: “Teams should not be complacent with the shorter distance of this race -- it is going to be tactically tough. The crew will need to look out for big squalls at night and the Race Office will be keeping a watchful eye out for any tropical revolving storms.

“After navigating the obstacles of the Caribbean Islands and their reefs, the route will skim the Bermuda Triangle and should try to make the most of the Gulf Stream that follows the eastern coastline of the United States -- extra gains of up to two to three knots can be made.

“With just three races remaining in this 40,000nm circumnavigation, it could not be closer in the fight for final podium positions. Race 10 proved that anything can happen in ocean racing as positions changed right up to the finish line.”

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - One of the closest races so far in the 2017-18 Clipper Race ended in a surprise win for Dare To Lead, after the team pulled off an eleventh-hour victory in Race 10: The Garmin American Challenge from Seattle, USA to Panama.

Race 10 was dominated by light winds, which compressed the fleet and resulted in the teams being in either visual or AIS range for the majority of the race south down the western USA and Mexican coasts.

However, a decision to remain west in the last 24 hours of the race, rather than hug the Mexican coastline with the rest of the Clipper Race fleet, paid off for Dare To Lead — with the team breaking away from the main pack while in Stealth Mode to cross the finish line at 1059 UTC yesterday, Thursday 18 May.

Skipper Dale Smyth said: “We took a gamble in the dark going into Stealth Mode so close to Mandatory Gate 2 and really had to work hard to get ahead of the lead pack.

“After emerging from [Wednesday’s] wind hole, we encountered a strange headwind that blew almost 18 knots. We went to our Yankee 1 and staysail for the first time on this whole race and started beating to weather. The crew worked really hard and managed to leverage some advantage over the lead pack. I’m really proud of everyone on board and they definitely deserve this win.

“It really has been an amazing race, incredible to think that after thousands of miles that the teams remained so close together for most of the race. We made and lost marginal gains on each other and it really kept us on our toes and focussed on boat speed.”

In a result that will delight its home port, Visit Seattle secured second place after holding off a challenge from GREAT Britain.

Despite racing over 3,000 nautical miles and 18 days, less than an hour separated the two boats at the finish.

Skipper Nikki Henderson and her Visit Seattle crew were highly competitive throughout the race down the western USA and Mexican coastlines, with the team never dropping out of the top three. And Visit Seattle kept up the pressure right until the end, following race winner Dare To Lead across the finish line at 0031 UTC this morning, Friday 18 May.

Skipper Nikki Henderson said: “What a finish! The last 24 hours have been such tight racing - and so tense.

“Really testing light-wind conditions that required immense levels of concentration and commitment - on the helm, trimming and tactically. This morning (anyone who has sailed with me will know these moments) I think we did about 10 gybes in an hour - just trying to work out which was the better course for wind and direction.

“To finish so close is testament to the quality of sailing and racing that we have had over the last year, and particularly this race.”

The heat, light and variable winds, especially in the Intertropical Convergence Zone, were a constant challenge for those aboard Visit Seattle throughout Race 10.

“There was definitely luck involved as there always is in sailing, but the crew worked so so hard and they deserve the second place,” Henderson added.

"It really has been an amazing race, incredible to think that after thousands of miles that the teams remained so close together for most of the race"

As well as the 11 points for finishing second, Visit Seattle will also add four bonus points to its Race 10 tally after picking up two points in the Scoring Gate and one point for being third fastest in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.

The 15 points will keep the pressure on the race leaders, Sanya Serenity Coast and Qingdao, as Visit Seattle went into Race 10 in third place in the overall Clipper Race

GREAT Britain pulled of the ultimate comeback by taking the third and final spot on the podium. On the final full day of racing, GREAT Britain was in eighth place but navigated the light winds skilfully to cross the line 53 minutes behind Visit Seattle at 0124 UTC.

GREAT Britain skipper Dave Hartshorn said: “That was a great race and the GREAT Britain team never gave up, even when we were behind in the rankings.

“Racing in such light conditions is a lesson in patience and everyone onboard pulled together and thoroughly deserve this success.”

This is the second podium finish for GREAT Britain, with the team also securing second place in Race 3 from Cape Town, South Africa, to Fremantle, Australia. The ten points for finishing third will be a big boost for GREAT Britain, which went into Race 10 from Seattle to Panama in seventh place in the overall standings.

Half an hour behind GREAT Britain was Garmin (0156 UTC), followed minutes later by Santa Serenity Coast (0203 UTC) in fifth and HotelPlanner.com, skippered by Irish helm Conall Morrison, in sixth at 0215 UTC.

Demonstrating just how tight the fleet was compressed at the end, Qingdao and PSP Logistics crossed the line at the same time at 0217 UTC.

Rounding out the early arrivals, Unicef finished at 0301 UTC, while Nasdaq followed six hours later at 0922 UTC. Liverpool 2018 continue racing to the finish line, with 36nm to go as of 1000 UTC.

Although the original finish line for Race 10 was in an area due south of Isla Jicaron in Panama, the Clipper Race Committee informed all 11 teams that Mandatory Gate 2 would instead signal race end.

As outlined in the Race 10 Course Instructions, any of the mandatory gates could have been used as a potential finish line should the Race Committee deem it necessary to conclude the race in interest of the race and crew.

Clipper Race director Mark Light said: “We had been keeping a close eye on the weather as the fleet moved further south and watching the conditions ahead of. In between Mandatory Gates 2 and 3 we could see a big wind hole opening up with very little breeze for the next two or three days.

“Therefore, the only sensible option was to finish Race 10 at Mandatory Gate 2, rather than have the fleet drifting aimlessly and trying desperately to get to the next gate.

“The race south from Seattle to this point had been really competitive, with close racing all the way, lots of spinnaker work and really good breeze. We didn’t want the race to turn into a massive drift at the end.”

After crossing the finish line, the Clipper Race fleet will motor sail towards a scheduled re-fuel stop in Costa Rica, before continuing on to Flamenco Island Marina on the Pacific Ocean side of the Panama Canal.

After traversing the Panama Canal – one of the real highlights of the circumnavigation – the Clipper Race fleet will regroup to begin the second and final stage of the US Coast-to-Coast Leg 7, a 2,000nm race from Panama to New York, which will begin on Friday 3 June.

Published in Clipper Race
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Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

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Featured Associations

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ICRA
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Featured Events

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Featured Chandleries

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Featured Sailmakers

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Featured Marinas

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Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
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