Clipper fleet sails on
SINCE leaving Airlie Beach almost two weeks ago, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet has experienced a mixed bag of conditions on the leg to Vietnam.
The race committee extended the course after a far faster than expected passage through the “doldrums”, which the boats cleared in just four days, compared to nine during the last edition.
The Vietnamese national holidays for Tet New Year mean crew are unable to go through immigration so many days early, so the lengthened course should mean they arrive at the earliest time in the scheduled February 17–21 arrival window.
For the first time since es-
caping the Solomon Sea doldrums, the fleet is experiencing much drier conditions and smoother sailing, as it continues to head north-west towards the next waypoint off the south coast of Taiwan.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire continues to head up the fleet and has opened up a 35 nautical mile lead over second placed GREAT Britain.
The battle for third remains tight between Qingdao, Gar
min and LMAX Exchange, but at the time of going to press the Chinese sponsored entry was holding a six nauticalmile advantage over Garmin.
Skipper Bob Beggs said his crew could now see their opponents on the horizon.
“It is the first sighting of another yacht for nearly a week but as we approach the next waypoint yachts always seem to come together,” he said.
“Although Vietnam is getting closer, our arrival in Da Nang is still two weeks away so our focus remains with the racing.
“With the new course having been set, there are many opportunities to trade places amongst the fleet and there may be some interesting racing ahead.”
Qingdao has been embroiled in a battle with Gar
min and LMAX Exchange for days now, and the tight racing is driving the teams on as they wait for an opportunity to outwit their rivals.
With consistent and stable winds forecast for the immediate future, there will be little opportunity to make great gains for now but with the extended course more tactical plays are likely to unfold.
As the trade winds weaken slightly, a low front will come down from the north before sweeping east.
The smooth sailing has finally allowed some of the Clipper Race fleet to have a special visitor on board – nearly a week after crossing the equator King Neptune visited many of the fleet, with belated equator crossing ceremonies held aboard. To keep up to date with the progress of the race, visit www.clipperroundtheworld.com.
RACE START: The Da Nang race start was actually 100 miles out to sea from the Whitsunday coast.
BIRDS EYE VIEW: Aloft on one of the 70ft Clipper yachts.