April 17, 2018; Day 25) – After approximately 5,000 nautical miles, there is little separating the top teams in the final stages of the 2017-18 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race across the mighty North Pacific Ocean to Seattle.
Sanya Serenity Coast and Unicef both emerged from 48 hours of Stealth Mode with just 26 nautical miles between them. Whilst the results of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint won’t be known until the final team has finished, Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck thinks Unicef is more likely to have picked up crucial bonus points.
“Here we are again back out of Stealth Mode,” said Tuck. “I don’t like our chances for the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, I think those behind will have better winds. It also looks like maybe Unicef choose to bear off and ran with it to use a kite and go for speed, so we are not holding our breath over this one.”
Qingdao is due to come out of Stealth Mode at 1200 UTC today and whilst Skipper Chris Kobusch wasn’t giving much away about his team’s position and progress, he does admit it is shaping up to be a close finish.
“We reached the eastern end of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint this morning and are now heading straight for the finish line,” he says.
“Sanya Serenity Coast and Unicef came out of Stealth Mode six hours ago, and it was interesting to see where they were in relation to us. We are still in Stealth Mode, so I don’t want to give away too much. But it will be a close race to the finish, especially with the light wind forecast right in front of the finish line, which might bring the majority of the fleet back together and shuffle up the current positions.”
The light winds are due to arrive on Thursday (Apr 19), with the small ridge along the coast to possibly make life difficult for teams close to the finish line. However, it’s a different story for the boats to the west. Though the east moving system will create a light and shifty patch on Wednesday, a solid south-south-westerly/south-westerly will drive them home to the finish line.
Currently all is well for the westerly teams, with the front passing over quickly and leaving them to get on with the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint. Nasdaq Skipper Rob Graham reports: “Nasdaq began our Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint this afternoon in potentially fast conditions. The weather front we had been expecting passed over without bringing any problems or serious squalls, and once it was gone we were able to get the kite back up and crack on. It’s hard work, but everyone is giving it their best.”
Whilst the North Pacific Ocean has certainly tested all eleven Clipper Race teams over the past few weeks, it has also definitely impressed with its beauty. Not only did GREAT Britain receive a visit from three humpback whales, the HotelPlanner.com crew also turned wildlife watchers.
“As I was at the helm, I saw a big whale breech the surface a couple of times only a few boat lengths from our hull,” said HotelPlanner.com Skipper Conall Morrison. “It was very sleek and black and had only a little fin on its back, not sure what species it is at all. This whale then followed us at a distance of 100-200m for about an hour.”
For the latest ETA of the teams… click here.
Beginning March 24, the Clipper Race fleet left Qingdao, China for the 5,500 nm leg across the North Pacific Ocean to Seattle, USA. After approximately 24-29 days, the fleet is set to arrive into Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina between April 14-19. Conditions in the early part of the race means the boats are now expected between April 19-21.
It will be the second consecutive stopover in the West Coast USA city, with the Clipper Race previously visiting during the 2015-16 edition.
Following the Seattle stopover, the fleet will depart again on April 29 to race over 6,000 nm from Seattle to Panama during the first of two races that forms The US Coast-To-Coast Leg 7. From there, the teams will race on to New York, Derry-Londonderry, and then to the finish in Liverpool, UK.
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