After a highly anticipated build up, the western half of the Clipper Race fleet braced against a ferocious Southern Ocean storm in the last 24 hours and has come out smiling. As the front, which brought winds of up to 80 knots, passes to the east, conditions are now easing with maximum gusts expected to be no more than 40 knots.
Da Nang – Viet Nam, ClipperTelemed+, PSP Logistics, Visit Seattle and Unicef experienced the heaviest weather, much to the delight of Visit Seattle Skipper Huw Fernie: “That was AWESOME! It's been feeling a little bit like the party never started when we came down here to play in the southern oceans of the world, so much talk of sleigh rides, huge seas and storm after storm… all we had seen so far was a lot of cold! Not any more for the lucky crew on Visit Seattle, as we managed to stick ourselves in the rough stuff for a good day of it yesterday.
Huw added: “With storms like this there can be days of anticipation and building excitement, then you get there and it just builds and builds; each wave throws you in a slightly different direction, some shower the boat, others lurch you sideways or forwards or really wherever they want. We just float and go with it; there is nothing much else to do.”
For Da Nang – Viet Nam Skipper Wendy Tuck, the passing of the storm is allowing the team to enjoy the other beautiful elements the Southern Ocean has to offer: “The front has passed, the kite is up, birds are soaring, the sky is blue, air crisp and fresh, and the sea state is not too bad, wallowing with the occasional surf.
“We handled the front last night well. It wasn’t as bad we thought it would be so all good, no damage, a little less sleep than usual, but today the sun is shining. By tomorrow we will be in the Ocean Sprint.”
Five teams have now completed the Ocean Sprint but Derry~Londonderry~Doire continues to hold the fastest time of 17 hours 51 minutes after fourth placed Garmin and fifth placed GREAT Britain, which have faced much lighter winds through the course compared to the leading three boats, recorded respective lapsed times of 24 hours 41 minutes and 24 hours 35 minutes.
Mission Performance, in sixth place, is expected to complete the Ocean Sprint today, while IchorCoal started the sprint this morning at 09:05:59 UTC.
Meanwhile at the front of the fleet LMAX Exchange continues its charge towards Albany with under 700 nautical miles to go to the Warden Whip finish line, followed by Derry~Londonderry~Doire and Qingdao.
It’s not over yet though because the teams have changeable and unpredictable weather conditions to battle with on the approach to Western Australia. Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell explains: “The ridge coming south, south-east from the high has passed over the central boats and is starting to catch the eastern ones. Over the next three days the high pressure should start to slide around Cape Leeuwin, acting as a buffer for the next low. This has a reasonably strong front forecast and at the same time a strong coastal low should be setting up along the west coast of Australia.
“These systems are unstable and the forecast conditions for them will certainly change,” Simon warns.
Stay tuned to the Race Viewer to see if these changeable conditions impact on race positions.