A wind hole at the centre of the North Atlantic High could engulf the fleet today, with weather reports and tactics being analysed carefully on day seven of The LegendDerry Finale.
The winds started lightening considerably yesterday, and boat speeds are low today in the fluky airs at around the halfway mark of the race to Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland. ClipperTelemed+ is now leading the fleet again, with former race leader Derry~Londonderry~Doire in second and LMAX Exchange in third after coming out of Stealth Mode as it attempted to bluff the other teams regarding going for the Scoring Gate.
Garmin, which also came out of Stealth Mode yesterday and didn’t go for the Scoring Gate either, is in seventh position, one place below its big rival GREAT Britain.
Matt Mitchell, Skipper of ClipperTelemed+, the most northerly yacht and in slightly stronger breeze, described the last 24 hours on board in the North Atlantic Ocean as he grappled to get in the best position to avoid the lightest airs.
“It’s been a bit of a tense day wondering if we are going to avoid the clutches of the ridge of high pressure due to form over the fleet. Not making it far enough along the race course could spell disaster as we would be sitting in light and fluky airs for well over 24 hours before starting to move again.
“We have managed to keep moving all day but are by no means out of danger yet. The wind is doing all the right things at the moment – veering towards the west is a sign that we are to the north of it as well as increasing slightly so there is a glimmer of hope. The barometer has risen a little though which is a concern.
“The next few hours will make the situation clearer. Fingers crossed at this time tomorrow we’ll be sailing at twelve knots towards Derry-Londonderry,” Matt added. The team will enter Stealth Mode at 18:00 UTC today, concealing its position from the rest of the fleet for 24 hours.
LMAX Exchange Skipper Olivier Cardin stated his intention to gybe north as the wind veered to attempt to escape the centre of the high and the lightest winds. On the Race Viewer this morning, that gybe had taken place with the team closely following Derry~Londonderry~Doire’s own move north.
Bob Beggs, Skipper of Qingdao, in tenth place, was optimistic about progress once he had passed the worst of the ridge.
“We are now entering the extending ridge coming out of the Azores High. We hope the rest of the fleet is also under the same influence and slowing down. Our Nobletec weather routing software encourages us to pop into the ice box to escape the light winds, this would of course lead to disqualification and possible ice so we will give that option a miss.
“So we should all be battling our way through the light airs at the moment this hopefully will bring a shakeup of the fleet time will tell, but there is always one escape artist.
“Once on the other side of the ridge, progress to Derry-Londonderry will hopefully continue at a fast pace,” Bob added.
Is Bob right there will always be an escape artist, and which team will it be this time?
Will ClipperTelemed+ stay ahead of the Northern Irish home port entry Derry~Londonderry~Doire?
The Clipper Race fleet is due to arrive in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland between July 7 to 11.
by The Clipper Race