Clip­per yachts de­part Seat­tle

Whitsunday Times - - ON THE WATER -

THE Clip­per Around the World race tracker has the fleet sta­tion­ary in Seat­tle har­bour ... for now.

Later to­day the fleet will slip their lines and set their sails for the start of Leg 7, which will see the crews ar­rive in Panama be­fore em­bark­ing on the fi­nal leg that will see the fleet home to Lon­don af­ter 40,000 nau­ti­cal miles and 11 months at sea.

The stopover in Seat­tle al­lowed crews to shake off the hor­ren­dous cross­ing on the North Pa­cific Ocean, which claimed the life of Sarah Young and caused Da nang Vietnam to re­tire from the fi­nal race in Leg 6.

Aus­tralian skip­per Wendy Tuck, when ar­riv­ing via mo­tor sail at Seat­tle, was re­lieved to get her feet back on terra firma.

“It feels fan­tas­tic to be here. We al­ways knew it would be a tough and long leg. For the first two weeks, we were still aw­fully close with the other teams, and then it just comes down to crew work. Then, peo­ple started get­ting torn mus­cles and other in­juries, and we had to put the brakes on a lit­tle bit and started drop­ping back in the fleet,” she said.

Race 10 will head back out into the vast Pa­cific Ocean en route to Panama.

While the fleet leave the city of Seat­tle, the talk will be of tac­tics – in­shore or off­shore? The in­shore cur­rent can give a de­cent ride but, with the land close by, fickle winds af­fected by night and day tem­per­a­tures can pro­vide an un­pre­dictable breeze. Fur­ther off­shore, the cur­rent can’t help you but more con­sis­tent winds can. A poor tac­ti­cal de­ci­sion could cost you the race, even at this early stage.

Cen­tral Amer­ica typ­i­cally brings high tem­per­a­tures and light winds and will be a real test of the yachts­man’s racing skill but also will pro­vide respite from the un­for­giv­ing North Pa­cific Ocean.

CLIP­PER FOUNDER: Sir Robert Knox John­ston is the founder of the Clip­per Around the World yacht race.

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