The strong west-to-east wind currents of the Roaring Forties grew infamous for providing major speed boosts to trade ships sailing to Australasia during the Age of Sail, between the 16th and mid-19th century. However, for the past 24 hours at least, history has not provided the same fortune for the Clipper 2013-14 Race fleet.
In a real contrast of recent conditions, the lashing winds gave way completely at times yesterday, slowing progress drastically for many of the fleet who found themselves caught in wind holes which required multiple sail changes, causing a couple of skippers to reference Race 2’s dreaded ‘D’ word, the Doldrums.
Opinion on the light conditions has been divided between the skippers. Simon Talbot of GREAT Britain welcomed the lull, saying, “I cannot say that either the crew or I were disappointed. With the promise of more strong wind to come, a day of relative peace and quiet in the Southern Ocean is just what the doctor ordered, giving us a proper chance to tidy up the boat and carry out running repairs after the preceding few days frenetic sailing.
In contrast, Henri Lloyd skipper, Eric Holden sounded more frustrated as he explained: “It has not been a kind 24 hours as we slowly tried to extricate ourselves from the wind hole to the north. We made a big and costly dive south to try and find wind and ended up doing about half the miles of everyone else.
The albatross gliding gracefully around the boat were mocking us as we bobbed around like a cork. What a contrast to the previous 48 hours of exhilarating surfing down mountainous waves, smashing our previous speed record.”
The only weather guarantee right now is that nothing is predictable, with forecasts being summarised as ‘complicated.’ The lull does appear to be short lived however, with another small energetic low pressure system moving in, already bringing stronger winds overnight to around 25 knots, expected to continue to build today.
One thing that is clear though is that skippers are analysing their weather sources very closely right now to select their best northerly, central or southerly routes as they all try to seek out the best winds.
At 1000 UTC, the current race standings see no change in the leader board. Qingdao continue to lead the fleet (3408.2 miles to finish) with Henri Lloyd in second place (3533.5) and OneDLL (3536.6) right on their coat tails in third.
To read the skipper reports, click here.
For the Race 4 Race Viewer, click here.