Clipper Round the World Yacht Race – Visit Seattle, in a southerly position, has taken the lead for the first time in its overall campaign this morning*, and is now 4.3 nautical miles ahead of yesterday’s leader Mission Performance which is sticking to the rumb line route in the north of the fleet. Garmin, positioned in the middle of both teams, is currently third, just seven nautical miles behind and being closely chased by Unicef which is also enjoying a best-yet fourth place position.
With just 40 nautical miles separating the entire fleet, which is spread across a north to south routing, the upcoming Ocean Sprint, which starts today, will reveal which teams have selected the fastest heading for the incoming weather condition
Explaining the fleet’s abnormally close progress thus far,Derry~Londonderry~Doire Skipper Daniel Smith says: “A moderate steady breeze has meant that for the start of this race the separation that usually occurs in the first few days of a typical Clipper Race hasn’t yet occurred.
“I find it hard at this stage to call who is in the best position, whether it is Mission Performance who have good boat speed and are in the north most group with the lowest mileage to go to Tasmania, or whether it is LMAX Exchange who is furthest south. Maybe it is one of the boat in the middle group (where we are) that has the advantage. It is still very hard to say but I am sure changeable winds will start to split the fleet soon.”
The happy party may well be broken up soon as the boats are being chased by a ridge of high pressure that threatens to halt the close progress. There is also a band of low pressure building above them in the Great Australian Bight which will likely drop down and affect the boats over the coming days. The signs of this change have already begun as the sunshine and flat seas of the first couple of days are being replaced this morning by thickening clouds and heavy rain.
In this tight contest it only takes a minimal drop or improvement in boat speed to affect race positions. Da Nang – Viet Nam which was third yesterday is now tenth which sounds drastic though in reality it has only dropped about 20 nautical miles.
In positive contrast IchorCoal has seen its position improve as Skipper Darren Ladd explains: “With a slowly improving race standing and a boat speed consistently a tenth of a knot quicker than those around us, the good ship IchorCoal has dragged herself from eleventh to eighth and is currently breathing down the neck of GREAT Britain in seventh place.
“Off in visible distance is fifth placed Derry~Londonderry~Doire so all in all we can be pleased with ourselves. For once we are swinging with the top dogs!”
What exactly will the incoming weather systems bring? Have the teams in the north, the middle or the south made the best selection? And WHO will claim the Ocean Sprint’s crucial two bonus points? Stay tuned to find out what happens in race four: The Elliot Brown Timekeepers Cup.
*All positions correct at time of reporting, 1100 UTC.