After an intense 11 days of racing across the North Atlantic Ocean, the mood across the fleet is that the sprint is very much on for both the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, and the finish line in Derry-Londonderry.
Whilst teams have been pushing through the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint over the last 24 hours, the results will only be confirmed once Liverpool 2018 finishes its sprint. Although yet to start the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, the team will be looking to take advantage of the bonus point opportunity following its diversion to St John’s, Newfoundland.
Speaking from on board Liverpool 2018, skipper Lance Shepherd, said: “We should get southerly winds allowing us to point straight to Derry-Londonderry and hopefully straight over the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint. However, the wind strength at the end of the sprint looks like it is tailing off so fingers crossed it will stay with us.”
But Liverpool 2018 isn’t the only team looking to pick up the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint points, with Garmin skipper Gaetan Thomas adding: “Morale is good; camaraderie is great, fingers crossed for us for the finish and hopefully a podium on the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.”
On Visit Seattle, which is currently leading the pack, skipper Nikki Henderson isn’t so confident that the team will gain any sprint points as they opted to focus on maintaining a stronger position in the fleet.
She says: “It's fair to say we pushed the boat to its limit, just not really in the right direction for the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint. We decided to keep sailing our race – and try to sail really fast.”
Less than 400nm lies between the front of the fleet and Derry-Londonderry, the fleet has enjoyed a quick race across the North Atlantic from New York. However, lingering over Ireland is a giant wind hole which could scupper tactics dramatically as the fleet edges closer to the finish.
Speaking about the forecasted conditions, Qingdao skipper Chris Kobusch says: “We are pushing hard to try avoid that huge wind hole the forecast shows developing west of Ireland, but it seems the whole fleet will park up there.”
One team that may be able to use this to its advantage however is Liverpool 2018 and skipper Lance is monitoring fleet progress carefully as teams approach the wind hole.
Shepherd comments: “It will be very interesting to see if Visit Seattle and Garmin manage to stay ahead of the wind hole as they have been cracking out some amazing speeds and I wonder how it will mix things up mid fleet. We will just keep doing our best to eat the miles and get to Derry-Londonderry ASAP!”
The Clipper Race fleet is estimated to arrive in Derry-Londonderry between 10-14 July – just in time for the Foyle Maritime Festival. The award-winning festival will run from Saturday 14 July until the fleet departs for Liverpool on Sunday 22 July. For more information about Foyle Maritime Festival, see the Derry-Londonderry Stopover page.
With Race Finish fast approaching the Clipper Race has announced a collection of new Unicef fundraising initiatives. They are offering the chance to bid for Clipper Race yacht wheels, stunning original paintings inspired by the race, and also have for sale limited edition prints and calendars – all which make fantastic mementos of the Clipper Race.