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Qingdao, China to San Francisco, USA - Part 1

Race - 10

16 APR 2014 - Race Director: Justin Taylor

The Clipper Race fleet, excluding PSP Logistics, started Race 10 at 13.45 local time (05.45 UTC) on Sunday 16 March.  There was a light breeze from the south that carried in foggy conditions with reduced visibility.  When the fleet started it had about three quarters of a mile of visibility.  I instructed lead skipper (Eric Holden, Henri Lloyd) to suspend racing if the visibility became worse.  

Each race has a nominated lead skipper who is responsible for communicating to the entire fleet whilst racing to make decisions such as suspending racing if they have been given the nod by me to do so.  In this case Eric felt that to continue racing would have been unsafe, therefore the fleet motor-sailed until visibility had improved sufficiently to restart racing. 

The race restarted at 08.50 local time (00.50 UTC) on Tuesday 18 March, which was also the point in time where I made all the calculations in regard to elapsed timings for PSP LogisticsPSP Logistics departed Qingdao on Tuesday 18 March and reached the exact point the rest of the fleet began racing at 20.50 local time (12.50 UTC) on Sunday 20 March. This means that it had been racing exactly 36 hours less than the rest of the fleet. 

The first mark or waypoint of the course was the lighthouse at Sata Misaki on the southern tip of Japan. Once round that, the fleet found itself in the Black Snake Current. This is a very powerful oceanic current similar to the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean.  It has a speed of between 1 and 4 knots, so if you catch it just right it can give a yacht a real boost. It seems that the yachts that rounded Sata Misaki first then had more north in their course and found a stronger section of the current.  This helped propel them further ahead of the others. The three yachts that seemed to do the best out of it were Derry~Londonderry~Doire, OneDLL and GREAT Britain.

As the fleet was now in very favourable conditions with a fair current and following wind, they were all consistently registering boats speeds in the double figures. PSP Logistics had a faster initial passage due to starting in more favourable conditions in terms of wind strength and direction (from the north at 20 knots).  Unfortunately however it had to make a stop to disembark a crew member who had suffered a dislocated shoulder.  As per the Sailing Instructions, it will not receive any redress for this detour and its elapsed time remained unchanged. Jamaica Get All Right also made a pit-stop near Yokohama (500 miles further up the Japanese coast) due to a crew member with suspected angina, which was later diagnosed as pneumonia.  Again, it will also not receive any redress time. 

After an eventful start to Race 10, the fleet started to position itself in preparation for the arrival of a Pacific Ocean depression.  You would have seen from the tracker that many of the yachts positioned themselves further south so that the centre of the depression passed north of them where they were able to catch the favourable winds.  The yachts further north such as Mission Performance played a risky game, sailing less distance but taking the chance of catching the headwinds.