Finish in sight as “toughest race so far” draws to conclusion

12 December 2015

Following LMAX Exchange clinching the Race 4: Elliot Brown Timekeeper Cup title at 0801 UTC (1901 local) today, the finish line is truly now in sight as the remaining eleven teams are due to reach Sydney over the next 36 hours. However this seemingly relentless contest is likely to feel far from over as winds gusting up to 50 knots and lumpy sea conditions mean it remains both exhilarating and challenging to the end.

GREAT Britain is just 24 nautical miles from the finish and is expected to take second place following yet another bitterly close jostle with third place Garmin. With just one nautical mile separating the two teams yesterday, and mind games surrounding the decision on which team would be first to host its spinnaker, Garmin lost out after experiencing a kite wrap in mixed up seas, resulting in GREAT Britain opening up its lead to seven miles.

Garmin Skipper Ash Skett reports: “The wind slightly eased in the morning and I decided to launch our spinnaker. Big mistake. It was GREAT Britain’s turn to observe our woe as we struggled to keep it flying in the mixed up seas. It was at this moment that I noticed the tear that must have happened on the previous drop. Before I could give the instruction to drop, the kite was wrapped around the forestay. All we can do now is sit and watch as GREAT Britain pulls away and it's going to take a gift from the weather gods for us to pull this one back.”

Taking a moment to summarise this race as it draws to conclusion, Ash adds: “Despite being the shortest, this has been the toughest race so far. The week of slamming upwind took a lot out of everyone but the rounding of Tasmania was one of the most memorable experiences of my sailing career.”

Mission Performance is expected to finish fourth, narrowly missing out on a podium spot after having led the race at earlier points and another close contest within the fleet sees Visit Seattle, Qingdao and Unicef battle to the finish line. Chinese entry Qingdao has shaken Unicef off its tail after having been within sight of each other for the previous 24 hours, noting exhilarating racing which saw boat speeds hitting the mid twenty plus knots.

Skipper Bob Beggs is not counting his rival as dismissed just yet however, as he says: “After reading Unicef Skipper Martin Clough's blog yesterday I have run out the sniping guns on the poop deck awaiting his return. My Hawaiian shirt has been replaced by a red Qingdao tunic (hides the blood) and the battle flags have been run up. Knowing Martin as I do, I will be expecting Unicef to appear from behind a headland at any moment, all guns trained onto target. I am sure this will be a race to the line.”

Further back, Da Nang – Viet Nam was forced to abandon hope of climbing positions after it ran into a wind hole and then had a close encounter with a water spout, also known as a tornado. Skipper Wendy Tuck explains: “Looking ahead as you do, we spotted two or three water spouts coming our way. We quickly got everyone down below and crossed fingers that they would miss us. These ones did, but in the next batch one came within 100 meters of us. Seeing it up close was fairly amazing and luckily all that happened was instead of us being down wind on starboard, the wind changed so quickly that we could not react in time so we ended up being close hauled on a port tack.

She adds: “With the crew back on deck, the breeze filled and we were off at a great pace again, but Derry~Londonderry~Doire was well and truly gone. Even though are chances of catching them have gone, it was a pretty amazing sight to see though hopefully not one to be repeated again and never so close!”

IchorCoal is currently eighth, Derry~Londonderry~Doire is ninth after diverting to Hobart to medevac an injured crew member, Da Nang- Viet Nam is tenth and ClipperTelemed+ and PSP Logisitics are eleventh and twelfth place respectively.

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Positions correct as of 0900 UTC.

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