After the forecasted textbook North Pacific weather delivered some of the fastest, most furious and thrilling conditions of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race, with reports of gusts heading well into the 50 knot range overnight, the sun has come out today and 11 teams are currently experiencing some relatively warm champagne sailing conditions enroute to Seattle.
The big weather brought about many leaderboard changes, yet the top seven teams remain just 50 nautical miles apart in the vast North Pacific.
For leading team Sanya Serenity Coast, the conditions have enabled crew to start churning through the miles, with the team reporting 143 nm sailed over the last twelve hours as they reach the halfway mark of the 5,600 nm course.
For others, the weather didn’t build as forecast and it has been a delicate balancing act of knowing when to push and when to hold back. Dare To Lead and GREAT Britain are both repairing spinnakers after being caught in gusts.
“Last night we expected a weather front to come through again with some force and due to the extreme cold, I was trying to avoid any deck work so went into the night with a conservative sail plan,” explained Dare To Lead Skipper Dale Smyth.
“Turns out the weather didn’t get that bad so was a bit upset with myself for being overly cautious and losing some ground. Went at it full welly this morning with a spinnaker hoist and pushed it far too hard and wiped out after a scorching run that made last night melt away.”
However, for Garmin and Nasdaq, it was somewhat of an anti-climax as both teams lost ground during the night after sailing with a conservative sail plan for conditions that didn’t show up.
Nasdaq Skipper Rob Graham reports: “The fruity little weather front that we had prepared for never really happened – all we got was a gradual strengthening of a very stable SW wind without any real gusts which means that Nasdaq was slightly underpowered for the conditions and slipped some miles against the rest of the fleet yesterday.
“Better safe than sorry I suppose, but frustrating to have lost out this time – it’s about knowing just how hard to push at any given moment.”
As teams reach the halfway point in the race, they are also approaching the International Date Line, which they should cross in the coming day or so. On board Visit Seattle, Skipper Nikki Henderson and her team are looking forward to the rare opportunity of sailing across it and gaining a day.
“Less than 3000 nm to go now feels brilliant,” notes Henderson. “Next pit stop for us is the International Date Line – how cool that we have an opportunity to live a day twice. If you could live a day twice what would you do?”
Now in fast and settled conditions for the coming days, teams are looking forward to the covering lots of ground towards Seattle and it is likely that the leaderbaord will see further changes in the coming days.
According to Clipper Race Weather Guru Simon Rowell, the long-range forecast suggests that the biggest weather is yet to come, and is on course to cross the fleet’s path in four days though that is a long time in the life of a low-pressure system and is continuing to monitor its progress.
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.
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.