The first 24 hours of Race 10 have been demanding for the Clipper Race teams. Excellent initial sailing conditions and good fleet speeds quickly gave way yesterday to varying degrees of wind holes. Frequent sail changes and tactical decision making resulted in little sleep for skippers as they seek to find the best routes toward the final waypoint at the southern tip of Japan.
Jan Ridd, Team Garmin skipper summarised: “Well after a long wait, what an action packed start to this race. Straight from the off we were into a 'hot' spinnaker run which saw us peel quickly from the lightweight to the medium weight kite, and we were soon seeing some very impressive speeds from all the boats, Team Garmin’s highest speed was 15.8 knots which considering the wind strength, was very impressive.
“Alas sailing at those speeds directly towards our destination was too good to be true and yesterday evening the wind quickly died, leaving us desperately trying to keep our boat moving in 3 knots of breeze. There was numerous head sail changes and the crew had some very busy watches.”
The wind holes that are plaguing the fleet have forced early tactical decision making as skippers navigate the best passage to escape their clutches. GREAT Britain, who didn’t make the best start, chose to head furthest north, a decision that produced the best gain as it now leads the fleet by almost 20 miles. In a situation of contrast, Qingdao took an early lead yesterday but has since seen its fortunes change dramatically.
Qingdao skipper Gareth Glover explained: “After a good twelve hours racing under kite from the re-start gate, the wind died off from the north and we sat bobbing for six hours whilst the yachts further north got some wind, which we eventually received during the night. By that time however, we had lost 40 miles and went from first to last position on the leaderboard. This is a long race but every mile will count at the end.”
Firmly focused on escaping the patchy winds, the teams are hoping better winds are on the way soon and expect that the final waypoint of the race, the southern tip of Japan and the subsequent northerly Kuroshiro (Black Snake) current will provide an added push out into the North Pacific.
A little delayed but feeling upbeat and positive, PSP Logistics is expected to reach the re-start line at approximately 12:00 UTC today to officially get their Race 10 campaign off the mark.
After reporting a fantastic show of support and celebration during his teams’ private departure ceremony in Qingdao, skipper Chris Hollis said: “It will be tough starting after the fleet, so we will be setting ourselves timed goals to keep us in check with the fleets pace. We will be in different weather patterns for most of the race. This can work for and against us.”
“We will be pedal to the metal from the very start,” he added emphatically.
To follow the fleet’s progress, see the official Race Viewer HERE
To read all the skipper reports, click HERE