It’s been one of the toughest legs of the 2013-14 edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, but crossing the finish line, even in the dark, under San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge, is a moment to savour after 5,600 miles of ocean racing across the mighty Pacific
GREAT Britain crossed the finish line of Race 10 in the 16 stage global series at 21:42:56 local time (UTC-7) on April 9 to take line honours ahead of rival Henri Lloyd who slipped back into second place around 1.30pm local time today. Henri Lloyd crossed the line two hours later at 23:45 local time. A battle had ensued for the last five days between Henri Lloyd and GREAT Britain with the teams both alternating between first, second and third place on the leader board.
Invest Africa crossed the line at 05:23am local time on April 10 taking the third line honours place.
All results are provisional and the final positions will be confirmed by the race office after redress is applied.
Simon Talbot, skipper of GREAT Britain, said: "We have had a very good race with Eric and Henri Lloyd, its always great to have someone to spar against. It's no fun if you are 500 miles ahead. It's a real sense of achievement. Coming out of the windhole yesterday I just couldn't see how we would claw it back.
"They managed to pull 15 miles on us by running inshore, then we pulled it back by running deeper and came in first under the bridge. I know Eric will be very pleased with his team's performance and he has had a very fine race with a crew of 13. We had a crew of 18 and we worked really hard. This was not the Pacific crossing that it was billed to be. We had no storms, we had no frontal systems passing over but the wind was gusting at 50 knots at times and we love sailing in that. We had a very fast downwind race and had 20 days of sunshine - that is what you call luck.
"There is a constant battle in a long race like this to keep performance up, but the crew like winning so it is easy for my crew to get out of bed each day."
The team had extra reason to celebrate setting the new Clipper Race record for a Pacific crossing. In the Clipper 2011-12 Race Gold Coast Australia completed the race from Qingdao, China to San Francisco in 619 hours. GREAT Britain has claimed the record by 15 hours with an elapsed time of 603 hours 53 minutes. Henri Lloyd finished in 605 hours 53 minutes and Invest Africa in 611 hours 33 minutes.
Henri Lloyd skipper Eric Holden said his team had fought with GREAT Britain right to the bitter end for several races in a row now.
"It was their turn this time and they got the better of us. We tried as hard as we could but we just got a little tired towards the end. It was a long race and you can’t push full on the whole time, so you have to pick when you really go for it and when you sit back a bit. You could tell a lot of boats did that and we found the right times. Just before the first Scoring Gate we found a bit of a weather pattern where we could get a good position and push the boat really hard for two days against Invest Africa. We both got good results there - they got us by 21 minutes. After that we had to recover as we were exhausted and we lost quite a few miles as we cruised more.
"Then when we knew a weather system was coming in again we pushed really hard again as we knew if we didn’t we would fall really behind. Motivating the crew and keeping them going was not hard – they seem to do it themselves. They are a strong team and help each other out, and when someone is down they gather round and support one another."
After thousands of miles of racing from Qingdao in China to California, USA, the top three boats in the new matched fleet of twelve identical 70 foot ocean racing yachts were within 30 miles of each other on their final day of racing.
Invest Africa skipper Rich Gould said: "We were lucky in the sense that we didn't have too much of a hard time but for the last 2 days we have had incredibly light winds which was the final part of the challenge. We made a very early commitment to going south which helped our climb up the leaderboard. It was the first time we came out of Stealth Mode better than when we went in. when we made that push south the guys worked really hard on the kite in some really exciting heavy weather, so testament to the guys for keeping us going like that.
“We have been through a bad spell, but this proves to the team and to me that we are capable of running the boat hard and fast and we do run a competitive boat. We held onto first for a good long time, sadly not quite long enough, but we climbed up the fleet and onwards and upwards from here.”
The new design third generation fleet of Clipper 70s has sailed a fast race in predominantly downwind conditions, with the front runners completing the 5600 nautical miles in just over 24 days, averaging around 230 miles a day, despite a few frustrating wind holes towards the finish. The Pacific is the world’s largest ocean and has a reputation for relentless, punishing, conditions that have battered the Clipper Race fleet many times before.
The Mighty Pacific is one of the most challenging legs of the Clipper Race and is a test of endurance for the entirely amateur crews in one of the earth’s most hostile environments. The leg saw two medical evacuations and winds gusting over 70 knots at times with the biggest sea states faced so far by the teams, but it was also characterised by very fast sailing and impressive racing.
Justin Taylor, Clipper Race Director said: “The Pacific leg was very eventful race right down to the finish, where just 30 miles separated the top three teams after 5,600 miles of ocean racing.
“The conditions were pretty frightening at times and most sailors would have baulked at 70 knot winds, ten-metre waves and big storms, but the teams had already come through the worst Southern Ocean crossing in 20 years during Leg 3 so were well prepared.
"This Race 10 has been 16 per cent faster than the last edition, a testament to the new boats and their downwind sailing ability,” he added.
The remainder of the fleet is expected into San Francisco over the next three days. OneDLL, currently in fourth position ahead of Qingdao, is due to get redress of 2 hours 57 minutes after going to the assistance of Derry~Londonderry~Doire during its dramatic man overboard incident when a crew member was successfully rescued after spending more than an hour and a half in freezing conditions during a storm. If OneDLL finishes within this time of any boats ahead of it crossing the finish line it will leapfrog them on the leader board, pushing them back a place.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire is due in Friday afternoon where Andrew Taylor who went overboard will be taken to hospital for an assessment of an impact injury on his leg, sustained when he hit the starboard rudder shortly after going over the side.
Back marker PSP Logistics actually started racing 36 hours after the rest of the fleet and is being placed on an elapsed time basis which should see it move up the final leader board.
Some of the yachts have not seen any other boats for weeks during this leg of the Clipper Race. At times the nearest other humans to the teams were those passing overhead in passenger aircraft or on the International Space Station orbiting roughly 300 miles above the world’s largest expanse of water.
The feet will be berthed primarily at the South Beach Yacht Club, Pier 40 where there is a public information dome and free tours of selected yachts hosted by the race crew themselves.
Race 11, the PSP Logistics Panama 100 Cup, starts from San Francisco on 19 April and sees the teams transit the Panama Canal in its centenary year. They will then cross through to the Caribbean side to carry on racing to Jamaica before finishing this US coast-to-coast leg in New York.
Click here for the latest ETAs into San Francisco.
Team ETA South Beach Yacht Club (Local time – UTC -7) Times are to the finish line at the Golden Gate Bridge. It then takes approximately 90 minutes to reach the marina at SBYC