Weather front predicted to bring faster, flatter conditions for Clipper race

Teams have been continuing their upwind slog as they tack up the Queensland coast, and positive thinking finally looks set to pay off as the latest weather forecast predicts a front will shortly pass over which should leave behind Southerly winds.

Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell has suggested that the first of the teams will be soon be experiencing the front which will pass over the whole fleet within twelve hours. After that, it should be a slightly faster and flatter race as the teams look to close the last 400nm of Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race.

Liverpool 2018 and Sanya Serenity Coast have been swapping the lead between them following some intense racing in close proximity.

Lance Shepherd, Skipper of Liverpool 2018 reports: “We've been tacking our way up around Fraser Island for what seems like forever now and along the way we've been trading places with our mate, Wendo, and her crew on board Sanya Serenity Coast. We're not playing games on AIS either, we've literally crossed within metres of each other.”

PSP Logistics is up to third place after making what it hopes is its final tack of the race before the wind shifts, and onboard fourth placed Visit Seattle Skipper Nikki Henderson is working on keeping the team upbeat during such a mentally and physically demanding race. She explains: “On board, we have decided to focus on positive thinking and optimism to will our way there faster.

“We are waiting anxiously for the dreamy front to arrive bringing its luscious flat fast downwind conditions.”

Garmin, which is playing its Joker, is in fifth place and further offshore than other race leaders and GREAT Britain follows in sixth. Like the rest of the fleet, the two teams looking to make the most of the upcoming front which should leave southerly winds behind its squalls.

One team however is slightly more hesitant about the forecasted front. In seventh place, Dare To Lead Skipper Dale Smyth reflects on the last front that brought a notorious Southerly Buster to the fleet: “The sailing at the moment is tough with hard upwind sailing.

“Looking forward to having the Southerly winds later tonight although with some trepidation about its initial arrival as the last one gave us a hiding.”

Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race has served up some of the most dramatic and mixed weather conditions of the Clipper 2017-18 Race so far. During an impressive electrical storm overnight, Qingdao, in ninth place ahead of Unicef in eighth, was hit by a lightning strike which has affected some of its on board electrical systems and instruments.

All crew are safe and well, the yacht is fully under control and the team is still racing. Qingdao is currently utilising battery powered navigation lights at night and is able to charge the boat batteries via the main engine in neutral, which does not contravene any race rules. It also has GPS functioning normally on the Garmin chart plotter for navigational use, and a handheld GPS as a backup, however it is unlikely that the crew or Skipper will be able to send back any blogs or emails for the remainder of this race.

Towards the back of the fleet there is no change on the leaderboard with Nasdaq holding onto tenth place and remaining in eleventh. In a bid to escape strong currents, Nasdaq has changed its tactics over the last 24 hours with Skipper Rob Graham explaining: “Nasdaq has finally got fed up of short-tacking close inshore to avoid the East Australia Current, and last night we headed further out from the coast in search of more stable wind.

“Things look good so far, although we know we will have to cut back West again at some stage so we're sailing as close to North as possible.”

After each of the eleven teams completed the frustratingly slow Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, it was revealed earlier today that Unicef, PSP Logistics and GREAT Britain came out on top to claim three, two and one bonus race points respectively. Despite the slow progress, less than twelve minutes actually separated the top two teams.

Andy Burns, Skipper of GREAT Britain which is currently in sixth place in this race, says: “Coming second in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint has certainly given the crew that little boost they needed for the final push.”

The latest Estimated Time of Arrivals for the teams into Abell Point Marina, Airlie Beach, can be found on the Clipper Race website and will be updated regularly as the teams approach the Finish Line.

In the meantime, keep up to date with the latest positions via the Clipper Race Viewer and hear more from the Skippers and crew on the Team Pages.

Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race will finish in Abell Point Marina, Airlie Beach ahead of the inaugural Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival.

All positions were correct at time of writing.

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