Race 4, Day 13: Mother Nature puts on epic display for crew as winds exceed 100 knots  

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Mother Nature invited select Clipper Race teams to a star studded weather show yesterday. Those who were invited had no choice in their attendance, though according to skipper reviews it was a fun night of exciting, incredible, awe inspiring and definitely unforgettable proportion.

Gale force winds were the star of the night, building quickly and steadily in pace from 50 to 80 knots, with a dramatic finale that roared to a deafening crescendo with multiple skippers reporting wind speeds of 100 to 130 knots. Gladly no injuries or major damage was reported during the proceedings.

Old Pulteney skipper Patrick van der Zijden said: ‘Riders on the Storm’ by the Doors is the soundtrack that comes to my head writing this blog. Although if we would we have played it on our outdoor speakers, I doubt we would have heard it. The top of the storm gave us wind force 9 and 10 on the Beaufort scale, with gusts up to 70 and mentioned 120 knots plus wind speeds.”

After the finale, the credits rolled quickly, with Chris Hollis, PSP Logistics skipper explaining: “This (100 knots plus) lasted about 20 minutes and then....nothing. The wind backed to the north west and just dropped to 20 knots, and left us bobbing around in the very lumpy, confused sea. Both of us and it left behind not really knowing what just happened!”

Reviewing the show, Ben Bowley Team Garmin skipper summarised the experience: “The crew have shared in an epic, once in a lifetime experience and this forms a new kind of bond between them, one that is hard to explain to those who were not here. The last 24 hours will remain firmly etched in their memory banks for many years to come.  Thank goodness it only lasted less than a day!”

In controversial circumstances however, at the time of review, it appears fleet leaders, GREAT Britain, OneDLL, Henri Lloyd and Qingdao were uninvited and totally left out of the show, with Henri Lloyd skipper Eric Holden commenting, “It has been a frustrating night of sailing, waiting for this front to come through. We battened down quite early expecting some stronger winds that still have yet to materialize, so we spent the whole night going slower than we should have been.”

With around a week’s racing left in Race 4, it is unclear whether this show was a one night only spectacular or an opening night preview but skippers are all well aware now of the potentials that still lie ahead in the remaining miles to Albany.

At 1100 UTC, Qingdao continues its lead, (1780.5 miles to finish) with Henri Lloyd  in second place (1895.8 miles) and OneDLL (1871.5 miles) currently in second and third respectively after another night of position swapping.

To read the skipper reports, click here.

For the Race 4 Race Viewer, click here.