After a testing first 24 hours beating upwind in Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race fleet remains close together with just over one nautical mile being the difference between the first four boats on the leaderboard and less than 30nm separating all eleven teams.
Australian Skipper of Sanya Serenity Coast, Wendy Tuck, is just in the lead at the moment and reports, “It’s been a tough first 24 hours of bashing away into head winds – a little bit what a Sydney to Hobart race is normally like.”
However, it is the upcoming tactical decisions that play on Wendy’s mind today. She explains, “There is still tactical decisions to be made regarding the weather and do you run for the Scoring Gate or not. It is quite a way off the Rhumb Line…”
Close behind in second place is PSP Logistics and Skipper Matt Mitchell is preparing for a change in the wind conditions.
“We are expecting the onset of a front this evening which will bring relatively strong headwinds so we have just been setting the boat up for that,” said Mitchell. “Once the front passes it should drag the wind around behind us for a while which will give us a nice reprieve from the tippiness of the last day or so.”
The only team to play its Joker Card on this race is Garmin and Skipper Gaëtan Thomas completes the podium positions. Said Thomas, “We are in close contact with Sanya Serenity Coast for a while and PSP Logistics, Visit Seattle, Dare To Lead and Liverpool 2018 are not far either.”
Dare To Lead, currently in fourth, is further inshore and closer to the Rhumb Line with Skipper Dale Smyth explaining that the crew are struggling a bit with the conditions: “The last 24 hours has been pretty brutal to say the least. Hard upwind conditions with everyone feeling pretty seasick. It is muggy and hot below decks and wet above deck, so no respite. Spare a thought for us as you go about your comfortable days.”
Liverpool 2018 and Visit Seattle make up fifth and sixth position and both Skippers are also reporting a bit of seasickness amongst their crew, which tends to set happen in the initial stages of an upwind race.
Liverpool 2018 Skipper, Lance Shepherd says: “Life on board our little pink boat has been very bouncy but the team is making the most of it as we head up the Tasmanian coast. Of course, the usual struggles have come about with re-learning how to walk on your side and how to hold the green monster at bay but so far so good.”
A close battle is developing between Qingdao and HotelPlanner.com in seventh and eighth, with the latter’s Skipper, Conall Morrison, reporting: “We are finding ourselves match racing Qingdao these past twelve hours and have been tweaking the sail trim or shaking out a reef as we watch the distance between us increase or decrease, or their speed change on AIS.”
Furthest west, in ninth place, is Nasdaq and its crew has been busy with evolutions under the command of Skipper Rob Graham: “After more tacks than anyone onboard Nasdaq cared to count, we left the River Derwent and Storm Bay yesterday evening and have since been beating up the Tasman Sea.
“Gradually reducing our sail plan as the wind has built, through reefs and headsail changes – the evolutions have all gone smoothly: the Nasdaq crew have learned so much and are working very well as a team and in their watches, and we haven’t had too many appearances from the big green monster either.”
Making up the rest of the fleet is GREAT Britain in tenth and Unicef in eleventh but the latter’s Skipper, Bob Beggs, remains optimistic: “Tactically we have our work cut out. Being at the back means room for improvement! So, we will be looking forward to lighter wind up ahead to slow the front runners and hopefully compress the fleet.”
With the fleet anticipating a change in conditions, Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell explains that the weather will be quite messy for the next couple of days. “This front looks like it will stick at the north end of Bass Strait, turning into an almost stationary trough.”
The fourth stage of the Clipper 2017-18 Race, officially known as Race 4: The Clipper Telemed+ Tasman Test, includes three races along the Australian coast. The 11 teams will race from Fremantle to Sydney, Sydney to Hobart, and Hobart to Airlie Beach in the heart of the picturesque Whitsunday Islands.
The third and final stage of the All-Australian Leg 4 began January 5 from Hobart to Airlie Beach with teams expected to finish by January 13 to 15.
Their next start will be January 29 when they will take a course for the Chinese Host Ports of Sanya and Qingdao, which completes Leg 5: The Asia-Pacific Leg.
The All-Australian Leg is the fourth of eight legs that make up the 40,000-nautical mile, eleven-month Clipper 2017-18 Race.