Race 9.1 day 7: Teams fight to be fastest into Qingdao

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With the wind dropping and conditions easing, the yachts in the middle of the fleet have increased their sail plans as they race to be the fastest boat into Qingdao. 

The wind eased right off over the last 24 hours with the three yachts at the front of the fleet, GREAT Britain, Mission Performance and Derry~Londonderry~Doire drifting for a time.

Matt Mitchell, skipper of Mission Performance, said: “The light at the end of the tunnel is well and truly in sight and getting bigger every minute. We have just 65 miles left to go and we are more or less pointing right at the finish line. 

“With the wind set to die in a few hours it's a race against the weather forecast to make it before the wind drops completely. We can just about do it! 

“It's been a tough race beating into gale force conditions and big seas, the guys have worked exceptionally hard and we have kept our finger on the pulse all race. 

“During our lunchtime session we reflected on the race and highlighted where we went wrong or what slowed us down and there were just four instances which held us up. The team and I are proud of our achievements this race as even getting through the conditions that we have faced with the crew and the boat in one piece is testament to every body's effort.” 

Vicky Ellis, skipper of Switzerland, said: “The waterfall has disappeared, the helm is wearing sunglasses not ski goggles, the mothers aren't swearing and the bowman looks happy rather than scared witless! 

“After a conservative start and mid phase to this race, in which we aimed to preserve our crew and boat as best we could in these infamous boat and crew breaking weather conditions, we are pleased to be back making good racy speeds.  

“The Yellow Sea will be tough with its fishing fleets out to get us as we try to plough on through with our downwind rigs up.”  

Derry~Londonderry~Doire and Mission Performance are hot on GREAT Britain’s heels and are also expected into Qingdao Monday morning local time. 

For the latest ETA’s into Qingdao, check the Clipper Race newspage.

To read all the skipper reports click here 

To track the fleet’s progress on the official Race Viewer click here