As the fleet heads south for the first time this year the broad reaching champagne sailing experience enjoyed for much of the past two weeks is over. Winds died off overnight and have now built back strongly, shifting to a less favourable east northeast direction which in addition to having to navigate busy shipping lanes, is hampering efforts to set the fastest crossing in the Ocean Sprint.
Front runner Derry~Londonderry~Doire has just set the time to beat of 14 hours 18 minutes in this Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race. Skipper Daniel Smith reports: “It’s been a busy day. We entered the sprint at first light and have had spinnakers up and down since. There is a large amount of shipping so we've been spending the day dodging tankers.
“Our decision to go for the Ocean Sprint probably means that we have dropped some miles from our lead getting south. They are miles that the other boats will need to do later however so hopefully it hasn't been too much of a risk.”
GREAT Britain Skipper Peter Thornton, still second, says: “We started the Ocean Sprint section earlier today but it is likely that the winds will be more favourable for those starting in the next 24 to 48 hours with a shift in direction. So right now it is simply a case of cracking on with heading down the course as fast and safely as possible! The usual really!”
The grey, gloomy sky currently hanging over the fleet seems to be reflected today in the reports and actions on board many of the teams with LMAX Exchange having ripped its heavyweight kite and both Unicef and ClipperTelemed+, reporting major kite wraps.
Whilst Unicef managed to free itself after the team worked on the wrap for 15 hours, ClipperTelemed+ Skipper Matt Mitchell is being forced to take more drastic action as he explains: “Things have gone a little awry here on ClipperTelemed+, we have suffered probably the worst kite wrap I have ever seen and we have been unable to fully get it under control so we are making our way inshore on the west coast of Luzon to get in the lee of the island looking for lighter winds and flatter seas.”
The team has notified the Race Office that it intends to anchor in Salomague Harbour on the west coast of Luzon, the northernmost Philippine island, at approximately 1330 UTC where it hopes it will take no longer than four hours to unwrap the kite. ClipperTelemed+ will log the position where the engine is turned on and then once the spinnaker is unwrapped they will motor back to that position to resume racing.
Not all teams are having a bad day though. PSP Logistics Skipper Max Stunell, whose team are about to round the Amianan Island in tenth position, reports: “Having started the day with the medium weight kite up we are currently flying along at 11 knots with three reefs and a staysail, with smiles all round, having been through all sail combos leading up to this point. The true wind is mid 30’s with gusts into the 40’s as the tail end of this front passes over us.”
“We took the decision to run high over the last day or so to give us a better angle towards the waypoint with the north monsoon wind coming in.Unicef took a lower more direct route to the waypoint it may allow us to take a few miles out of their lead over us, or it may backfire, we'll find out in due course.”
Follow the drama and the triumphs on the Race Viewer as the Ocean Sprint continues today and teams battle to make better progress in Race 7, the Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race.
– Clipper Race Media