This one is a monster! After leaving the pomp and ceremony of a stunningly colourful visit to Qingdao, fog and fishing boats are in store as the Clipper Race fleet endures cold conditions for the first week at sea. Snow could make a regular appearance and the tropical sailing conditions will feel like a distant memory. The first key milestone will be off the Southern tip of Japan and then tactics come in to play again as skippers are faced with the age-old dilemma; take the shortest route and risk light airs or head north for a colder but stronger ride east.
Whatever the choice, the Pacific Ocean is the largest in the world and the first week will blend with the second, third and fourth as the teams cross its mighty expanse. Keeping a competitive focus, preserving kit and looking after crew morale will be a constant challenge before managing the likely variable conditions as the California coast appears over the horizon.