Day 20 in the PSP Logistics Panama Cup and Race 10 appears to be slipping into slow motion as the leading teams tackle the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) – the dreaded Doldrums. With the conditions only likely to become more frustrating the Race Office has decided to use the latest compulsory gate as the finish line.

Boats will have until 1200 UTC tomorrow (20 May) to cross the ‘Remedios’ Gate. Those that haven’t crossed will have their distance from it measured to determine the remaining places, which will enable these teams to see how their current tactics play out in determining their final positions.

The teams will then be able to use their engines to make best speed to Panama in time for the scheduled canal transit window. They will refuel, as planned, en route.

The compulsory gates were set in the Course Instructions the teams are given to enable their use as an early finish line in the event of the ITCZ disrupting the race, as has happened in previous editions.

This means that the podium places for the PSP Logistics Panama Cup go to the first teams to have already crossed the Remedios Gate, putting LMAX Exchange in first, ClipperTelemed+ second, Unicef third and Derry~Londonderry~Doire fourth.

Today’s Skipper reports were received before news of the decision to shorten the race was sent to the yachts. However, the intense competition, despite the frustrating conditions was clearly evident.

LMAX Exchange Skipper Olivier Cardin said: “We won this gate but not like we expected. Last night we sailed on port tack, going south-east just ahead of ClipperTelemed+ and Unicef. We expected the wind to turn to the right to be able to tack on a better angle to the gate, but it turned to the left...Not good at all!

“This afternoon as we were still waiting for the right rotation, we played with Unicef and ClipperTelemed+ during two tacks. ClipperTelemed+ took the lead using a very good shift…and then, at the end of the afternoon, from the cloudy weather came a huge squall, delivering our famous right shift. We took the lead at the end of the squall and crossed the gate first. Sorry, can't explain why...but it was just another crazy day on the Clipper Race!”

From Skipper Matt Mitchell’s perspective on ClipperTelemed+, it's been another “close day of racing under a scorching sun” as he reported: “LMAX Exchange, Unicef and ourselves were scrapping it out towards the third compulsory gate… Skipper Olivier and his team managed to just sneak ahead of us over the line, there was only metres in it though! Well done guys.”

Further back in sixth place close to GREAT Britain, Qingdao Skipper Bob Beggs summed up the frustrations of the unpredictable conditions: “Good progress was made all day, however after dusk an un-forecast wind shift saw the wind coming directly from where we are trying to go, this also gave a clear advantage to the boats to the north and east of us.

“So we are now in damage limitation mode as we make our way to the Remedios Gate. The race to secure a good placing here is tense and the Qingdao crew are focused at the moment as we anticipate the race may be over soon.”

Garmin is currently in fifth as at 0900 UTC, but anything can happen in these conditions.

Stay tuned to the Race Viewer as the neck and neck battles continue towards the Remedios Gate finish line in the PSP Logistics Panama Cup.

*All positions correct as of 0900 UTC

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