“More oomph” forecast as Clipper fleet approaches waypoint

Passing to the north-east of the Philippines, the Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race leader Derry~Londonderry~Doire is within 160 nautical miles of the next waypoint between the island of Itbayat and Taiwan, with the front eight boats all expected to round the mark within the next 24 hours.

Having had some settled conditions recently, the weather is about to change again for the fleet, as Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell explains: “It’s all getting rather interesting at the corner. The weak front at the Luzon Straits should move over the fleet as it heads towards the waypoint. It shouldn’t be particularly strong, though there will undoubtedly be some localised squall activity.

“The following front looks to have more oomph with quite strong north-north-east winds behind it – perfect if you’ve made the corner, not so great if you haven’t. At the moment I think these will gust 35-40 knots, and could be more if accelerated around any nearby land.”

GREAT Britain remains in second place and holds a 27nM lead overQingdao in third, and Skipper Peter Thornton says the team is already experiencing the conditions described by Simon: “Last night was one of those up and down borderline wind nights, just in between sail plans. Too light for a while and you feel slow, then the wind would pick up and you were glad that you hadn't got lighter sails up. A very starry and clear night though with lots of enjoyable on deck yapping and general wondering why all sailing is not like this.

“Then just before daybreak, things started to change…the squall attacks are back. Throughout the day conditions have been all over the place. From a period of rain and around 5 knots of wind to it increasing to 20 knots and shifting over 90 degrees – so we found ourselves moving with the wind making the best course we could in the direction we needed. Right now, it's still raining.”

Garmin and LMAX Exchange are in fourth and fifth place respectively. The Race Committee has awarded LMAX Exchange 3 hours 4 minutes of redress in relation to the team’s suspension of racing in order to investigate a drifting and dis-masted yacht earlier this week. The authorities were informed at the time and gave LMAX Exchange permission to resume racing while they launched an investigation.

Further back the fleet, Mission Performance might be 780nM behind the leader after getting stuck in the Doldrums, but the team remains determined and is already eyeing up the Ocean Sprint, which Skipper Greg Miller and his crew have claimed twice already in the Clipper 2015-16 Race.

“Today a bit like yesterday and the day before! Good winds perfect sailing with the kite up, we are under 1000nM to the turning point South of Taiwan. We are expecting some strong weather around the waypoint so will be preparing for that, but once around Amianan Island it should be a fast passage initially down towards Vietnam and through the Ocean Sprint. But that is a few days off yet, let’s get there first!”

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

*Positions correct at 1000 UTC.

If you can see yourself sailing across the Luzon Strait in the Clipper 2017-18 Race then contact the Crew Recruitment team to find out more.

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