Clipper yachts turn the corner as testing conditions continue

Clipper 2016

The New Moon signifies a new beginning and for many cultures, today represents a New Year. For some teams, turning the most southerly waypoint in the extended route of the Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race will be symbolic of the pending change to an upwind beat, after two weeks of downwind sailing and something of a rollercoaster of confused seas and challenging waves.

Derry~Londonderry~Doire continues to lead the charge and has now rounded the waypoint. Skipper Dan Smith reported earlier: “Sails are getting small repairs ready for the upwind race and this morning was slow as we worked through our reefs re-running a broken line from last night’s excitement. We'll probably find that the slow speeds while we worked on the reefs have allowed other boats to claw back a few miles but these were essential jobs to have the boat ready to go upwind.”

Garmin has edged to within a hundred nautical miles. Skipper Ash Skett described the conditions: “As we draw level with the southernmost point of Vietnam, the swells have finally agreed on a direction of travel which makes helming more manageable. However, this also means that they have built up to truly gigantic proportions, I would guess the biggest we have seen on the race so far.

“They will tower up behind the boat, threatening to swallow us whole before rolling beneath us and gently placing us down on the other side. I have a feeling that they may not be so considerate when we turn around and take them head on later tonight!”

Meanwhile Qingdao is also closing fast on the waypoint from its more westerly route with a better wind angle. Skipper Bob Beggs paid tribute to the crew: “A gybe in big wind is always difficult, it’s imperative to conduct the operation as quickly as possible. The helmsman has to keep the yacht pointing directly downwind to de-power the mainsail and avoid the yacht rounding up into the wind, concurrently the running backstays have to be changed over and the two gybe preventer's detached re-run and re attached.

“With a thorough briefing the Qingdao team conducted a safe and quick gybe without throwing the third off watch down below out of their bunks. Well done team!”

Meanwhile the crew celebrated the Chinese New Year in style. Bob added: “The Chinese contingent had smuggled all the ingredients on board to produce some fine traditional fare. Kevin, Sean and Melody worked tirelessly in the galley for several hours and the results were very much enjoyed by all, thanks guys.”

The conditions continue to test the teams. Skipper Greg Miller reported a particularly challenging night for Mission Performance: “Last night was a bad night. It was very dark…the only things that stuck out were the tops of the waves as they crested… They were like house roofs in relation to the cockpit and helming position as they towered above us, each one larger than the last until, inevitably, the rogue wave hit us and hit us hard. But asMission Performance Warriors they all fought on!

“The crew remain upbeat…well they were until we wrapped the heavyweight kite.”

Unfortunately the inner forestay was damaged as a result. The situation is under control and they are currently sailing downwind with a halyard taking the place of the inner forestay and a reduced sail plan of a three-reefed mainsail.

Race Director Justin Taylor said: “The rigging team is currently reviewing options to set up a more permanent solution which will allow the yacht to use more sail, however this will not be implemented on board until daylight.” (Mission Performance is currently on UTC + 9 hours)

At the back of the fleet around a thousand nautical miles behind the leaders, Visit Seattle has finally turned south at the waypoint north of the Philippines. Skipper Huw Fernie stated: “We've turned the corner, some were lucky enough to glimpse land in the early hours of the morning but many chose to sleep through the occasion.

“Last night at a mere 20 degrees north it was surprisingly cold and we saw the first sleeping bag of the trip come out of storage, it is hopefully short lived as now we are heading back to the more familiar latitudes. Also the downwind sailing means wind chill is much more bearable up top.”

New Year celebrations have also been taking part aboard Da Nang – Viet Nam. Skipper Wendo Tuck described some of the traditions: “Today is the first day of Tết, so maybe everyone should start the deep clean now as this is our home and one of the customs is to clean your house to start the New Year off well. Also many people buy new clothes and shoes…that part may be a bit tougher. Happy Tết everyone.”

Yesterday the course was adjusted further to maintain arrival in Da Nang, as originally planned, from 17 February. A number of waypoints have been included in anticipation of slower progress upwind so that the course can be shortened to enable teams to turn west earlier to maintain the desired ETA into Da Nang.

Also this tight circuit with multiple waypoints continues to challenge the programming of our automatically generated standings table. So apologies that this is throwing up some misleading positions. Please check the Race Viewer to see relative positions as the Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race continues.

Click here to see the schedule of events planned for the Da Nang stopover.

*Positions correct as at 0800 UTC.

If you can see yourself competing in a future Clipper Race then contact the Crew Recruitment team to find out more.

Jeanneau JY60
JPK August 2023
Cyclops Marine
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Cyclops Marine