(March 7, 2018; Day 3) – There’s been a reshuffle at the top after the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race fleet spent another busy night avoiding fishing vessels and dealing with strengthening winds en route to Qingdao.
PSP Logistics has regained the lead on Day 3 of the approximately 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.
“We just used up two more of our get out of jail cards,” explained Wendy. “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 in the last 12 hours 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. 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,” said Nikki. “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. Just under 20 nautical miles are currently separating the chasing pack, made up of seventh placed HotelPlanner.com, eighth ranked Dare To Lead, Garmin in ninth and Qingdao in tenth, whilst Nasdaq is another 18 nautical miles astern in eleventh.
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. Whilst 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.
Beginning March 4, the final section of the Asia-Pacific Leg 5, officially known as Race 8: The Sailing City Qingdao Cup, will take the fleet from Sanya to Qingdao in China.
The 1700 nm race to Qingdao is expected to take between ten to twelve days, with the fleet expected to arrive into the Wanda Yacht Club between March 13 and 16.
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.
Background: Held biennially, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race got underway August 20 for the fleet of twelve* identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. The 40,000nm course is divided into 13 individual races with the team having the best cumulative score winning the Clipper Race Trophy. The race concludes in Liverpool on July 28.
Each team is led by a professional skipper with an all-amateur crew that signs up for one, some, or all the races. The 2017-18 race, expected to take 11 months, has attracted 712 people representing 41 nationalities, making it the largest to date.
* Twelve teams began the first leg but one yacht (Greenings) ran aground just hours after the start on October 31 of the third leg from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle, Australia. The crew was safely evacuated but damage to the boat was deemed too extensive for it to continue in the 2017-18 edition.
Source: Clipper Ventures