The final chance for bonus points in the race to New York is underway, with the majority of the Clipper Race fleet in the midst of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint on Day 8 of Race 11: Nasdaq Race.
PSP Logistics has held onto first place for its fourth consecutive day and is enjoying that the breeze is strengthening just in time for the sprint. Skipper Matt Mitchell reports: "Life is getting a bit better out here now that we are climbing out of that ridge of high pressure that's been giving us fairly light winds over the last day or so. We should hold the breeze for a while now before a little wiggle in the forecast will give us a bit lighter stuff before cracking on to the finish."
But whilst conditions have improved, there is a concern in the leading pack that the teams astern might experience better sprinting conditions. Wendy Tuck, Skipper of the third placed Sanya Serenity Coast, explains: "We are off on our merry way, the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint way that is. Not sure how we will go as the boats behind us might have more breeze for the duration."
Unicef's fortune in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint will remain a secret for now after the team went into Stealth Mode at 0610 this morning. But whilst Unicef is off the public radar, it is keeping a close eye on the competition as Skipper, Bob Beggs, reports: "A great day for sailing, endless miles under the near cloudless sky. A gybe inshore due to a wind shift and we are now sprinting north towards Long Island just 600 hundred nautical miles away."
The fleet has encountered a few squalls over the last 24 hours but on the whole, it has been perfect kite conditions. Dare To Lead Skipper Dale Smyth says: "Today we made some good progress north under Kite. The wind is still fairly consistent from the south despite being slightly up and down in strength so some changes from the Code 2 (Mediumweight Spinnaker) to Code 1 (Lightweight Spinnaker) keeps us moving at optimum.
"Not long to go till we enter the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint so we are trying to position ourselves well for as straight a run as possible through this window."
It's currently looking like another close finish, with the latest ETAs showing that the Clipper Race fleet will arrive in a 24-hour period from Friday 15 June. And with the finish line getting closer, excitement is starting to build for what will be the penultimate Stopover of the Clipper 2017-18 Race. Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch comments: "We are getting close to the start of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint. Less than a mile and we are sprinting for extra points once again. After that it's a short run (460nm) to the finish and into New York. Everyone is looking forward to some cold beers and warm beds."