North or East: Which route will pay off for Clipper skippers?

Clipper 2016

The strong winds and steep waves have eased off, but the fleet is still battling upwind on day 4 of The Sailing City • Qingdao Cup to China.

The northerly yachts, ClipperTelemed+ and PSP Logistics, are still leading the pack in first and second place in stronger winds and against a stronger current. The rest of the fleet is to the east where the wind has decreased after challenging conditions for the last 24 hours. Which tactic will pay off as the fleet aims for waypoint Taiwan and the start of the Ocean Sprint to the south east of the Asian country?

Simon Rowell, the Clipper Race Meteorologist, says that a high should take over for the next few days, so the wind should go east as the fleet approaches the Luzon Strait.

Darren Ladd, Skipper of IchorCoal, in fifth position, explains more about the last 24 hours on board.

“The upwind slog to Taiwan continues. Those taking the easy option of heading north early seem to be looking better on Race Viewer but we all know it doesn't always tell the whole story. In the long run the veering wind will favour those hanging on and heading east, but it's hard to watch as the opposition disappears over the horizon and up the race standings.

“Needless to say we cracked last night and put in a longer than planned north going tack. It looks good on paper but it means the good shipIchorCoal will be slogging its way east – well actually east southeast – all afternoon while trying to recover the ground,” Darren added.

Olivier Cardin, Skipper of LMAX Exchange, described the last 24 hours of heavy weather and tough sailing. “The wonderful waves we surfed and the heavy wind which pushed us three weeks ago on the previous race were against us instead for the last 24 hours!

“With a Yankee 3 and 2 reefs, we managed to go upwind smashing walls of water. Life on board was more difficult. Difficult to cook, to have rest, to go to the toilet… Difficult but not impossible, the adaptation of the crew is just amazing.

“Now the weather is better as the wind dropped and the sea as well. This morning, it was time to change sails and open all the hatches. It’s good to be back to normal life. On the race part, we are still on the east option. Others are completely north or middle east. It’s difficult to say which one is the best…” Olivier added.

Will northerly teams ClipperTelemed+ and PSP Logistics hang onto their lead or will the easterly teams catch up?

JPK August 2023
NAV at Home
Cyclops Marine
JPK August 2023
Cyclops Marine