• From Doldrums to sailing on a slant again
    From Doldrums to sailing on a slant again
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For the first time in 13 days, there has been a change at the top of the Atlantic Trade Winds Leg 1 Leader Board. Visit Seattle has moved into first place, followed by Unicef, and HotelPlanner.com.

Visit Seattle skipper, Nikki Henderson, who currently has a 30.78 nautical mile lead, resumed racing under sail at 1130UTC yesterday after finishing the allowed 60-hour period of motor-sailing in the Doldrums Corridor. Nikki says: “We are now back to life on a slant - trying to get the best balance between speed and direction (southwest out of the Doldrums ideally).

“I imagine most boats must be sailing now, so the race has restarted - Uruguay, we are on our way.”

Returning to life at an angle has been a challenge across the fleet, with Dale Smyth, skipper of the now fourth placed Dare to Lead, reporting: “Yesterday we moved from our motoring period back into sailing.

“It was a day of very big wind shifts under big rain-squalls and quite frustrating at times as we were unable to lay the bottom gate of the Doldrums Corridor. Things have improved however, and the wind has become more consistent from a better angle.

“Everyone was suffering a bit from learning how to live at 45 degrees again, but we best adapt as this is going to be how it is for a while as we make our way towards the corner of Brazil.”

GREAT Britain is currently in fifth place, and skipper Andy Burns comments: “Finally the south easterlies promised are heading on through and we are aiming directly for the south west end of our Doldrums Corridor exit.”

After disappearing from public view for 24 hours whilst in Stealth Mode, Sanya Serenity Coast is sixth on the leader board, having chosen to take to aim for the west corner of the Doldrums Corridor southern gate.

Skipper Wendy Tuck explains: “Yesterday I didn’t know how well Stealth Mode worked, as just after sun up we could see Qingdao. It really is quite amazing that we have been racing for nearly three weeks and we are all still so close.

“At the moment, we are trying to squeeze up to go through the southern end of the Doldrums Corridor gate.”

Qingdao has dropped to seventh place, but like Sanya Serenity Coast, the team has deviated west from the course line.

Skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “We had a busy night racing in close proximity with Liverpool 2018 and Sanya Serenity Coast. Unfortunately, we lost our pole position, but the team is working hard to get it back. We had several racing headsail changes and reefs in and out last night, and hopefully the hard work will pay off.

“With less than a 100nM to the end of the Doldrums Corridor, the fleet has come together again and it will be an exciting second half of the race down to Uruguay.”

Liverpool 2018 is in the westerly group with Qingdao, Sanya Serenity Coast, and GREAT Britain, and is just 7. 97nM off the eighth placed PSP Logistics.

Pleased with his team’s effort in the Doldrums, Liverpool 2018 skipper, Lance Shepherd, says: “The gap between us and the leaders is now less than 30 nautical miles, whereas when we first entered the DC, it was a whopping 130 miles! Gaining 100 miles is always good in my book.

“So now we've managed to get the race leaders in our sights and the next few days will be a really hard slog to reel them in but we're ready for it.”

According to the Clipper Race weather guru, Simon Rowell, life on board should be easier over the next couple of days, with the South Atlantic Trade Winds set to back a little, the shifting winds the fleet has been experiencing should settle and be more consistent. Whilst the teams might run into squalls outside the ITCZ, there is nothing major currently on the forecast.

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