Clipper Round the World Yacht Race – The fight for sixth place could go down to a photo finish for IchorCoal and Mission Performance, with just 0.35 nautical miles separating the pair at 1000 UTC, and just over two nautical miles from the race three finish line.
Greg Miller, Skipper of Mission Performance who has the slight advantage over its rival, says: “The miles are falling off now. We have been pushing our yacht ‘Missi’ harder than she has been pushed so far this race. Although we won’t be getting the race position we were hoping for, we are now just looking forward to getting into Albany and relaxing for a few days.
“Yesterday afternoon Da Nang – Viet Nam came up on our Automatic Identification System (AIS). I contacted Skipper Wendo on the VHF radio. It is always nice to chat to the other skippers when the occasion presents itself, it’s good to catch up and see how each other has been doing, share problems we have had and how we have solved them etc.”
As the high that halted the progress of the five boats that finished earlier in the week slips round the bottom of Australia, moderate to strong southerly and south-easterly winds are propelling the Clipper Race fleet towards Albany at good speeds – consistently between eight to 11 knots right on course.
Sitting in eighth place, 35 nautical miles from the finish line and traveling at a speed of 11.2 knots, Da Nang – Viet Nam Skipper Wendy Tuck, admits at this stage the gap is probably too wide to catch the boats in front. She says: “We are making our last run for the finish. I am a tad sad that I don’t think we will get past IchorCoal and Mission Performance, and Visit Seattle is behind us, keeping us on our toes.
“It’s been a tough and good leg. Well done to all the crew and well done to the new crew, those first few days were an eye opener. We didn’t get the conditions (i.e. big swells) that we thought we would so our top boat speed is only 22.7 knots under white sails, but there is always next leg.”
Da Nang – Viet Nam’s eighth place looks secure as long as it can keep up those speeds because Visit Seattle lies a further 42 nautical miles back.
“Almost there, a touch over a hundred miles left and the mood on Visit Seattle is good,” says Visit Seattle Skipper Huw Fernie. “It’s been a strange few days as the weather has been forcing sail changes at an unprecedented rate as it changes in angle, speed or both. We’re tired, wet, warm and definitely smelly – a good time to finish.”
According the weather reports, easterly headwinds will begin to freshen on Thursday morning off the coast of Albany and potentially slow the back markers slightly. For now though, the conditions are favourable as eleventh placed Unicef Skipper Jim Prendergast reports: “The wind continues to be kind to us, and we are watching the distance to destination tick down. As I write, we now have 299 nautical miles to go and the prospect of a beer, a sleep and a shower within the next 48 hours is very real.
“The weather is still gloomy, and conditions on deck a little splashy as we now have the wind on the beam. However the crew is happy, albeit a little fed up of being cold and damp. There is a rumour we might not have come twelfth this race. Okay, so it may only be eleventh place, but after the adventure we have had this leg it is a real achievement and something to be proud of.”