Close Finish After Intense Racing

18 May 2018

There’s been little separating the majority of the Clipper Race teams for much of Race 10: The Garmin American Challenge and its finish was no exception with some positions decided by just minutes.

After spending 18 days in close company, racing more than 3,000 nautical miles south from Seattle towards Panama, six teams crossed the finish line within an hour of each other.

In what is its best result since Race 6, Garmin made a late charge, avoiding the worst of wind holes to secure fourth place, just 32 minutes behind the third placed GREAT Britain.

“Well, I'm tired! I think all the Skippers must be as today was a very close battle with the majority of the fleet to the finishing line,” says Garmin Skipper Gaetan Thomas.

“Everyone was pretty much on deck non-stop since last night as we saw that we could gain some positions, which we did. So close to the podium but fourth finally.”

“It was a race in between small patches of wind, with big wind shifts, and lots of sail changes were needed. I can say my pirates gave everything they could and I am really proud of them.”

IMAGE: Yang Yang Shan and David Sturge on board Sanya Serenity Coast. ©Hao Ming

Seven minutes after Garmin crossed the finish line at 0156 UTC, Sanya Serenity Coast followed suit, taking fifth place over by just 12 minutes. Skipper Conall Morrison says: “That was very close/tight/nerve wracking, but we are happy with our sixth placing as it is was where we were for most of the race. It could so easily have been third or ninth, light winds can be so frustrating.

“My heart goes out to Qingdao Skipper Chris and crew who led for over two weeks to be pushed down the placings in the last 24 hours. Sailing can be tough.”

After losing the lead for the first time in 15 days, Qingdao was involved in a thrilling photo finish for seventh place against PSP Logistics. PSP Logistics managed to cross the line first at 0215 UTC, just two minutes ahead of Qingdao.**

Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch, despite winning this battle for seventh place success, commented: “Not much to say. A very disappointing race for us. Hopefully the next one will be better.

“But whilst this is a tough one to swallow, the calibre of racing across the fleet has been excellent and it was an exciting race to be a part of. To be so close after racing for weeks and thousands of miles shows how evenly matched the fleet is, both in terms of the Clipper 70s and talent on board.”

Unicef was the next team to cross, officially finishing Race 10 in ninth place at 0301 UTC. After spending much of the race at the front of the leading pack, Unicef also fell victim to the light and variable winds of the Intertropical Convergence Zone and Skipper Bob Beggs comments: “The Unicef team has gelled well together and proved be a cohesive and effective racing team, way above their final placing in this race. A big thank you to the team for all the hard work.”

IMAGE: On deck Nasdaq crew briefing.

The penultimate finisher was Nasdaq, crossing the line at 0922 UTC to take tenth place. After playing cat and mouse with GREAT Britain throughout the whole race a tactical decision on Day 17 to stay further inshore meant that Nasdaq got caught in the wind hole that trapped the majority of the fleet and had to battle light winds to cross the line.

Meanwhile, Liverpool 2018 made the decision to declare and accept eleventh place. The team is now making its way towards Panama.

With the final results now in for Race 10, check out how the points have affected the overall Race Standings. You can also read about life on board during the final moments of the race in the Skipper Blogs in the Team Pages and in the Crew Diaries.

The Clipper Race fleet will now motor sail towards a scheduled re-fuel stop in Costa Rica, before continuing on to Flamenco Island Marina on the Pacific Ocean side of the Panama Canal. After traversing the Panama Canal – one of the real highlights of the 40,000nm circumnavigation – the teams will regroup for Race 11 to New York which will start on Sunday 3 June.

**UPDATE 20/05/18: Correction to earlier version of the article which had Qingdao finishing ahead of PSP Logistics by 13 seconds. This was due to an incorrect report from PSP Logistics at race finish.

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