Race 3 Day 6: Progress slows as Roaring Forties purrs

06 November 2015

Passing the 40S line which marks the official start of the Southern Ocean’s ‘Roaring Forties’ brings expectations of big surfs and accelerated boat speeds, however that is not always the case as Clipper Race teams are discovering so far in this race.

Still in first place but having seen its lead margin cut in half over the past 48 hours as he experiences lightening airs out front, LMAX Exchange Skipper Olivier Cardin, currently averaging 8.8 knots, reports: “The news of the day is that we crossed 40 degrees south. That means we are in the Roaring Forties! But at this time, it's more like a big cat purring on the sofa.

“With this plastic wind, shifting and inconsistent, we are spending our time trimming to make the boat keep moving.”

Behind LMAX Exchange, Derry~Londonderry~Doire is now up to second place, moving at 12 knots, ahead of third placed Qingdao. GREAT Britain, Mission Performance and Garmin continue to chase closely together in the middle position of the fleet where conditions have been more consistent.

The Roaring Forties is named after the belt of fierce westerly winds which sit roughly between 40 and 50 degrees latitude in the Southern Ocean. Winds rage notoriously in this region as it sits in the transition zone between the more tranquil, balmy subtropics and the far colder polar vortex around the South Pole, and the winds are uninhibited due to the absence of continents or mountains that might slow them down.

ClipperTelemed+ skipper Matt Mitchell originally dove furthest south in search of the Roaring Forties wind advantages, but has now tacked and is headed north due to the recent drop in winds in the region. He reports: “Today the tide has turned so to speak and after a blistering morning, reaching in 20 knots of wind at high speed we have now come to a comparative stand still. All good things have to end as we are now close hauled in light airs with the wind shifted to the south east, meaning we are no longer sailing our intended course.”

As the other most southerly positioned boats, Visit Seattle, Da Nang – Viet Nam, Unicef, and PSP Logistics, also tacked north to move out of the light winds, IchorCoal kept its course and has gained three positions since yesterday, now eighth.

Skippers are all hoping the winds fill in soon and are busy examining the upcoming weather patterns to find their best routes, as Garmin’s Ashley Skett explains: “We are expecting all this to change during the weekend as a front is forecasted to pass over us, bringing with it a shed load more wind, rain and no doubt some of the huge swells that this part of the world is famous for.”

With 4,000 nautical miles left to cover to Albany, everyone is hoping this is the case. Stay glued to the Race Viewer to find out what the incoming front brings.

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