Powerful headwinds, steep waves, an adverse current and busy shipping lanes are making conditions very unpleasant on the yachts as they beat towards Qingdao.
Leg 5 is living up to its reputation as having some of the toughest conditions of the race, with the decks awash almost constantly, and Henri Lloyd reporting sustained wind speeds of 50 knots with regular gusts up to 55 knots.
Rich Gould, skipper of Invest Africa, describes the continuing onslaught. “As we crash, bash, smash and generally pound in to the waves as we continue north it seems like it is never going to end. The wind is still coming from exactly where we are trying to go (surprise, surprise) and we now also seem to be tackling a little adverse current.
“This part of the race is certainly beginning to live up to its reputation and memories of the 2011-12 Race come flooding back. The Volvo Race went to Qingdao once, but never returned due to the conditions they had to sail through to get there, the conditions we are sailing in right now.
“The team is holding up well, morale is still high despite EVERYTHING on board being difficult to do. Even just making a coffee, getting dressed or going to the heads in these conditions is epic.”
Chris Hollis, skipper of PSP Logistics, which has now left Hong Kong, said a later departure may help them.
“If we can position ourselves properly, we will have downwind conditions until the finish line. It would be a great confidence booster to take this out going into Leg 6.”
The boats are on an individual time trial with the race to Qingdao being decided on elapsed times because the boats have set off at different times. Normal scoring points apply.
In the last few hours Jamaica Get All Right has decided to cease racing following difficulties with adequately tuning the rig following forestay repairs in Hong Kong.
Skipper Pete Stirling informed the race office that he has ceased racing: "I am confident that the rig is safe to continue with our current sail plan and weather conditions...and retune the rig when weather conditions permit.
To read all the skipper reports click here
To track the fleet’s progress on the official Race Viewer click here