Race 1 Day 4: LMAX Exchange widens lead as fleet heads south through Cape Finisterre’s acceleration zone

04 September 2015

Some variable winds yesterday have built this morning and 20 knots, gusting to 35 knots of wind, is ensuring the fleet continues to make good racing progress. The teams are averaging around 11 knots boat speed as they leave the Bay of Biscay behind and race leader LMAX Exchange has widened its lead through Cape Finisterre’s acceleration zone.

The gap between LMAX Exchange and GREAT Britain has increased from less than 1 nautical mile (nm) yesterday to 20nm in distance to finish. LMAX Exchange Skipper Olivier Cardin explains how his team has been working to shake off its ever present rival:

“Yesterday, we went up a gear from crew to racing team. Focused all day on speed, we managed to take a 6nm lead over GREAT Britain, just by trimming. Sailing downwind on a Clipper 70 yacht with 20 knots of wind is a delight. The boat is fast, safe and comfortable. We are all really enjoying this boat!"

Derry~Londonderry~Doire continues to hold its third place position despite requiring emergency sail repair work yesterday, but Garmin, in fourth, remains ever focused as Skipper Ask Skett reports: “We are expecting higher winds during the next 48 hours as we enter the acceleration zone around Cape Finisterre. We are all set for this and hoping that this will give us an opportunity to catch up with the two leading boats who already seem to be making good way in these winds.”

Qingdao remains in fifth place, having taken the most coastal route in a bid to seek out the stronger winds. PSP Logistics has progressed from ninth to sixth place over the past 48 hours. Skipper Max Stunell reports: “Another fantastic afternoon’s sailing, sun out and shorts on, making great progress although there have been some showery clouds around.

“Carrying our lightweight kite into the night we continue to make good progress and gybing back in towards Finisterre for stronger winds, encountered a larger squally cloud and decided that a drop of the lightweight kite was in order. I have just come from on deck now that our medium weight kite is up and we are averaging 11.5 knots. We are almost across the Bay of Biscay and are interested to see where the other boats are.”

Positions in the latter half of the fleet are changing all the time due to the close proximity of the teams. As of 0900 UTC Visit Seattle is seventh, followed by Da Nang-Viet Nam in eighth, ClipperTelemed+ ninth, Mission Performance tenth, Unicef eleventh,and IchorCoal is currently twelfth.

Despite its twelfth place position, the crew of IchorCoal is keeping its spirits up after the team made excellent gains yesterday. Skipper Darren Ladd reports: “Yesterday's race update showed that we had moved to the front of the chasing pack, which was testament to the hard work of the crew. Sixth place from twelfth the day earlier, great progress and with Qingdao a mere 28nm ahead, anything feels possible.

Later he added: “I notice from the last position update we have slipped back to twelfth although there are only a few miles between all the yachts. Such is the cat 'n' mouse game that we play on the world's greatest oceans, and what an amazing game it is.”

Looking ahead, The North Atlantic High (a system of high atmospheric pressure typically found centred near the Azores) is splitting just south of the fleet and in the next 48 hours teams will be sailing into a more unstable region, with a small depression or two probably developing. The conditions in this region often change quite quickly so the forecast data teams have very rapidly becomes out of date. This is where the Skippers' experience takes hold and they will have to balance what the computer forecasts say and what they have experienced before to make their best navigational decisions.

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