There's been a reshuffle at the top after the Clipper Race fleet spent another busy night avoiding fishing vessels and dealing with strengthening winds en route to Qingdao.
PSP Logistics has regained the lead on Day 3 of the approximately 1,700 nautical mile Race 8: The Sailing City Qingdao Cup, with Skipper Matt Mitchell enjoying the change in conditions: “During the day and overnight last night, the wind picked up nicely giving us a little taster of things to come. At one point we were even down to three reefs!
“Our northerly route seems to be paying off, tacking just outside Hong Kong was quite interesting as it was pretty busy up there, however we've had a nice lift and are more or less making the little virtual mark that we have to leave to port, before making our way up to Taiwan.”
Sanya Serenity Coast, which in contrast to PSP Logistics, has deviated south of the rhumb line, dropped from first to second place after experiencing an action packed last 24 hours. Skipper Wendy Tuck explains: “We just used up two more of our get out of jail cards. Eagle eye young Michael Davis just noticed that the top two slides on the main sail had just come off.
“A second get out of jail card was used whilst Michael and I were up sewing and sitting on the main. We saw a fishing boat acting strangely, and before we could do anything, we saw his drift net. Somehow we managed to sail straight over the top of it and not pick it up. Huge sigh of relief by all on deck.”
GREAT Britain made the most of the arrival of the Northeast Trades to cover the most nautical miles in the last 12 hours and retake third place, with Liverpool 2018 dropping to fourth. However, Liverpool 2018 Skipper Lance Shepherd is more concerned about the conditions, reporting: “It would seem at present the weather is pretty much doing as forecast if a little breezier than expected at times.
“However, we are heading as planned to waypoint “Howard” then across to the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.”
The leading pack is approximately 100 nautical miles from beginning the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, which will earn the top three fastest teams up to three crucial bonus points. Nikki Henderson, Skipper of the fifth placed Visit Seattle, is feeling good about where her team is at after seeing how the crew handled the building breeze, saying: “We had our first taste of upwind sailing with gusts of 40 knots – not forecast – and quite a shock. It was good fun – great to have some action after quite a mundane race from the Whitsundays in Australia. Wind has now subsided and we are making good ground to the next waypoint.”
Unicef is in sixth place again today but did make some gains overnight climbing as high as fourth place at one point. Just under 20 nautical miles are currently separating the chasing pack, made up of seventh placed HotelPlanner.com, eighth ranked Dare To Lead, Garmin in ninth and Qingdao in tenth, whilst Nasdaq is another 18 nautical miles astern in eleventh.
After a day spent battling a confused sea state, Nasdaq Skipper Rob Graham comments: “We had originally planned to make a long tack north before heading east, but with more fishing boats the closer we came inshore, we felt we were losing too much hard-earned ground by having to dodge around them. So instead we've made some shorter tacks further south where there is less fishing activity and the deeper water seems slightly less lumpy.”
The upwind battle is set to continue for some time yet. Whilst the winds are expected to ease over the next 24 hours, Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell is predicting the Northeast Trades to begin building tomorrow afternoon, local time.
As they approach the southern tip of Taiwan, the teams can expect strong gusts of between 40 knots to the low 50s, particularly if they are in the midst of a north-going current.
Keep up to date with the latest progress of the Clipper Race fleet via the Race Viewer and you can also hear more from the Skippers and crew on the Team Pages.
The eleven Clipper Race teams are expected to complete the 1,700 nautical mile Race 8: The Sailing City Qingdao Cup between 13 – 16 March 2018. Nominations for the Stormhoek Social Spirit Awards are now open, so please visit the Stormhoek Wines Facebook Page to say which Clipper Race team you feel has shown the most social spirit on this race and provide a reason why.
This will be the seventh time the Clipper Race has included Qingdao as a Host Port on its global racing route, with the city the longest serving Host Port Partner of the race. For the first time, Clipper Race crews will berth at the newly constructed Wanda Yacht Club, a state of the art facility in western Qingdao. To learn more about what the teams can expect in Qingdao, visit the Host Port page on the Clipper Race website.