The Clipper Race fleet has begun to spread out after a full week of racing in Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race with 167 nautical miles (nm) now separating first and eleventh place as teams prepare to head back into the Northern Hemisphere.
The teams out in front remain close together though and there has been further change at the top of the leaderboard with the frontrunners still jostling for positions as teams enjoy higher wind speeds. However, teams are heading for a low pressure system as they push north across the equator which has the potential to leave the fleet in a wind hole for the forthcoming King Neptune ceremonies.
Due to its proximity to the rhumb line Garmin is technically in the lead after a testing night of sailing but PSP Logistics and Sanya Serenity Coast are further north in second and third place respectively.
After a weeklong drag race with Sanya Serenity Coast, PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell reports: “It's been life on the lean here near the equator, this should continue for another day or so however the wind is due to ease at some point. We have the usual suspects around us at the top of the fleet! This does seem familiar!”
Visit Seattle, technically in fourth place, is hot on the heels of the two teams further north of it and Skipper Nikki Henderson says: “We are trying endlessly to catch Matt (Skipper of PSP Logistics) who clearly has learned how to make these boats move beautifully with his vast Clipper Race experience.”
The stronger conditions have been felt across the fleet and on board fifth placed Dare To Lead Skipper Dale Smyth comments: “It has been a relatively aggressive 24 hours upwind. Once we were out of the Doldrums Corridor, we had to dodge a couple of islands first before a very squally night.”
Nasdaq and Qingdao, in sixth and seventh place respectively, have been match racing since leaving the Doldrums Corridor and both teams are pushing hard to try and get the advantage. Nasdaq Skipper Rob Graham reports: “We crossed our restart line at four degrees South just after dark last night, within sight of Qingdao and the two boats have been matching each other north west ever since.”
Having chosen the most easterly route of the pack, Unicef takes eighth place today and Liverpool 2018, in tenth despite being further north than ninth placed HotelPlanner.com, is the only other team to take the easterly route meaning it has sacrificed a place on the leaderboard in the short-term in the hope that the bold routing will pay off in the long run.
HotelPlanner.com takes ninth place due to its proximity to the rhumb line but is significantly further south than Liverpool 2018. Like the rest of the fleet, Conall Morrison, Skipper of HotelPlanner.com, is looking forward to the upcoming King Neptune ceremony. He says: “We are close hauled on port tack trying to make up miles to Liverpool 2018 as we sail north in a bid to catch the North Easterly trade winds at around four degrees North.
“This means crossing the equator and hopefully an appearance from King Neptune again to welcome our new Pollywogs to the Shellback community! The court of King Neptune will hear of the crimes of the Pollywogs before decreeing their punishments.”
Sitting at the back of the fleet, GREAT Britain will have a tactical decision to make on routing soon and Skipper David Hartshorn alluded to a potential bold move ahead in his latest blog. He says: “Based on our current position and COG (Course Over Ground), you'll be passing opinions on our potential next move, I have no doubt. Well as they say “Fortune favours the brave.” Re-join us after the break for further developments”
Across the fleet, teams should also be experiencing more stable conditions with fewer squalls as the weather system ahead moves west.
Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race will finish in Sanya Serenity Marina in Sanya, and the fleet is expected to arrive between 21 – 25 February after roughly 23-27 days at sea.The crews will be excited to explore Sanya and all it has to offer during the stopover, and you can find out more here.
*All positions correct at time of writing
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