Race 10 Day 16: Forecast squalls set to liven up the Doldrums

15 May 2016

As the PSP Logistics Panama Cup continues, life in the Doldrums is frustrating the teams regardless of their position in the fleet, with one team covering as little as 35 nautical miles in the last twelve hours of racing. In the blistering heat, intense concentration is needed to eke out any advantage in the wind and current that can help them on their way towards Panama. The conditions are poles apart from the Pacific Ocean crossing and are testing the teams’ skills in a very different manner.

LMAX Exchange continues to lead the fleet but is closely followed by ClipperTelemed+ 2.9 nautical miles behind, and Unicef another 7NM back. Leading the Overall Race Standings too, LMAX Exchange Skipper Olivier Cardin reports on the close racing his team finds itself in almost 3000NM from Seattle.

“Today was a hard sailing day. The wind was light, shifting all the time. It was very difficult to helm!

“Since yesterday we maintained Unicef behind us and we are trying to stay between it and the Angel gate. After two wind shifts we are changing our partner. It's now ClipperTelemed+, three nautical miles behind. We are at 40 nautical miles from the next gate, close hauled on a port tack. The wind is back around 10 knots and shifting to the left. We need that last shift to make the mark,” he added.

Derry~Londonderry~Doire continues in fourth with IchorCoal in fifth. Hit by a squall yesterday for the first time in Race 10, Skipper Rich Gould says he was impressed with how his IchorCoal crew dealt with the situation, which was also welcome respite from the baking sun.

“Today has been a day of many firsts aboard the good ship IchorCoal, maybe not firsts for the entire circumnavigation, but certainly firsts since starting the PSP Logistics Panama Cup. First squall. First reef. First tack. First unintentional hove too.

“Most of the day has been pretty straight forward upwind sailing, on a flat sea with a good breeze. The afternoon brought the squall, which in turn brought all the other firsts for this race. It was good to see the crew working well together in a flurry of activity, and also very refreshing to get our first down pour. Big fat tropical rain always feels good after days of sweltering heat. The squall left us as quickly as it arrived, sadly it didn’t hang around long enough to get the shower gel out,” Rich went on to explain before adding, “Frustratingly there have also been a few hours during the course of today that have seen us in almost no wind, but we have persevered and kept the boat moving as best as we can.”

A first squall for IchorCoal but certainly not the last for the fleet judging by Clipper Race Meteorologist’s forecast to the Skippers today.

“The ridge of high pressure is still your dominant feature, but the next 24 hours will probably get quite lively with squall activity,” says Simon Rowell. “There are reports of building clouds from some of you, and these are to do with a series of tropical waves making it into the East Pacific from the Atlantic. These are characterised by a squall line, the winds shifting and increasing quite suddenly, and lots of rain. There shouldn’t be anything too dramatic, but a weather eye would be wise, as always.”

As it stands, Visit Seattle’s Ocean Sprint time looks set to remain unbeaten as the teams further back have struggled with patches of light wind across the course. Still completing the Ocean Sprint, PSP Logistics has altered direction from the fastest route through 17 and half degrees north and 16 north in search of winds that will help its overall race position, and in the process is unlikely to beat Visit Seattle’s time of 10 hours 1 minute.

In his daily report Skipper Max Stunell wrote: “Well it's been another gorgeous day albeit a little light wind-wise. We've just been plodding along skirting the top of an apparent wind hole that was indicated by the GRIBs, in an attempt to get closer inshore where we expect to find stronger wind developing over the next few days.”

With wind holes and squall activity forecast, will the chasing teams have the chance to catch the leading pack? Stay tuned to the Race Viewer to keep up to date with the PSP Logistics Panama Cup.

*All positions correct as of 0900 UTC

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In today’s Skipper Blogs many of them talk about reaching the Acapulco and Angel gates. Earlier in the week Race Director Justin Taylor explained the Race 10 finish in our daily report. Click here to read more if you missed it the first time round.

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