The westerly winds that the Clipper Race fleet has been waiting for finally arrived for many of the teams as they pass the halfway mark of Race 3: The Dell Latitude Rugged Race to Fremantle, Australia.
With under 2,400 nautical miles to go until Fremantle, Sanya Serenity Coast is in the lead. Having taken a more northerly route, the team has not yet found the right sailing conditions to hoist a spinnaker but Skipper Wendy Tuck reports: “For the first time in ages we did a Yankee change, the sheets have been eased and we have a full main up. I had forgotten what it looked like, so nice to be sailing a bit freer now.”
It has been a particularly eventful 24-hours for second-placed PSP Logistics with Skipper, Matt Mitchell, reporting: “We’ve had wind holes and wind, as well as a little kitemare.”
“Now we are cruising in 25-30 knots of wind with the Code 3 (heavyweight spinnaker) and we must have stumbled into some favourable current or something as the boat speed hasn’t been below 14 knots since we’ve had it up! Definitely putting some miles under the keel now.”
The westerlies are really filling in for the teams to the south and Skipper of third-placed Visit Seattle, Nikki Henderson, explains: “We are holding onto our hats over here – after what feels like an eternity of wind holes or just skirting around wind holes, we have wind … and it’s coming from behind us.”
Dare To Lead and Liverpool 2018, in fourth and fifth place respectively, are further north and experiencing flatter conditions with Lance Shepherd, Liverpool 2018 Skipper, exclaiming: “THE WORLD IS FLAT! That’s not a Galilean reference to intrepid sailors falling off the end of the earth but simply that our boat is finally flat. However, we are not jumping for joy, we are paying a hefty price for a flat boat….no wind.”
Further south, Qingdao and GREAT Britain have benefitted from spinnaker hoisting conditions and are currently in sixth and seventh position respectively. Andy Burns, Skipper of GREAT Britain, explains: “The Code 2 (mediumweight spinnaker) is up and we are storming down swells at up to 20 knots again.
“I forgot how much the kite brings out the alpha male in the helmers. Their game face is on and this is exactly what they came here to do, surf down waves at ridiculous speeds with the kite up.”
Garmin and Unicef, in eighth and ninth, have experienced wind conditions dying off but Garmin Skipper, Gaëtan Thomas has not given up hope of making up positions in the fleet, reporting: “We will have a good angle but probably less surfs and less wind. The south ones will have quite some strong wind, maybe the kite will be flying, maybe some kitemares, maybe, maybe, lots of unsure situations, which means the race is still on.”
Further back, Nasdaq in tenth and HotelPlanner.com in eleventh have been able to hoist spinnakers although the latter had to deal with its biggest spinnaker wrap yet. HotelPlanner.com Skipper, Conall Morrison, reports: “Thanks to quick thinking and efficient teamwork the situation was brought under control swiftly and the spinnaker remains in one piece, suffering from only a few small holes. The Code 2 is now flying again and the team deserve this slice of success having once again unravelled the problem.”
According to Clipper Race Meteorologist, Simon Rowell, HotelPlanner.com will continue to benefit from a north westerly wind and the teams to the south will experience gusts of up to 50 knots. Teams to the north face a more shifting wind meaning that it is all to play for in the second half of the race to Fremantle!