Race 10 Day 17: Battle for lead heats up between leaders LMAX Exchange and ClipperTelemed+

16 May 2016

The battle for the lead position in The PSP Logistics Panama Cup is reaching boiling point in terms of both temperature and stakes. LMAX Exchange passed the second compulsory gate overnight, just one nautical mile ahead of second place ClipperTelemed+, which is refusing to let the lead slip away as it strives for its first podium finish.

Olivier Cardin, Skipper of leader LMAX Exchange, reported: “Today, early in the morning we crossed the second gate (Angel Gate) first, 1NM ahead of ClipperTelemed+. All the night we maintained the control, avoiding them to take an option without us. After that it was time to head up to the next gate, which is 400 nautical miles away. We are still close hauled in light weather with ClipperTelemed+ in sight.”

The fight for the lead and the navigation of the wind holes and light airs ahead will now continue to the third compulsory gate of the race. Third place Unicef is currently 40 nautical miles behind the leaders, with Derry~Londonderry~Doire still fourth, 60 NM behind, IchorCoal remain fifth (120 NM) and Qingdao is sixth, 137 nautical miles behind the leader.

Not just your average Monday race day, Unicef Skipper Martin Clough notes that today marks a momentous day in the race journey as he says: “We believe today marks the round the world crew members 200th day at sea, and what a better way to celebrate than with no wind and a blazing sun!”

With the level of wind holes and light airs around, Panama may feel like it is getting further away for many of the teams but they remain as focussed as ever in the challenging conditions. Martin Clough adds, “The on watch are frequently joined on deck by the frustrated off watch in search of some shade and breeze as the temperatures below deck reach unbearable levels. Since we crossed the second race gate early this morning, we have made some progress towards stronger winds, and we continue to follow in the path of our current closest rivals,’ Le Maximus’ and ‘Limpett Clipper’ (LMAX Exchange and ClipperTelemed+).”

Skippers and crew are finding it a challenge to keep themselves and their emotions cool in the sweltering heat and lack of helpful breeze. IchorCoal Skipper Rich Gould is one of those today as he vents: “The past 24 hours has not been a good one. We have either had no wind, or what little wind we have had has been from the wrong direction. This coupled with the proximity of the compulsory gate has meant progress has been very slow indeed as we were just south of the southern end of it, forcing us to tack back and forth on the shifts trying to claw our way through.

“As you will no doubt have seen seen from the Race Viewer, our track line looks like the work of a small child with only one crayon and a lot of spare time on his hands. My friend’s son Dylan McClernon would be proud of the colouring in that we have achieved over the last day!

Putting the on board challenge into perspective, Rich adds colourfully: “As a parting thought for today, making progress in the light winds has been as easy as trying to untangle your headphones, whilst wearing mittens and, at the same time, being attacked by a bear!

At the back of the fleet, eleventh placed PSP Logistics has now finished the Ocean Sprint but was not able to come anywhere close to beating Visit Seattle’s 10 hour, 1 minute record. Due to the wind holes, the team unfortunately recorded the slowest sprint of the race, in over 50 hours, meaning Skipper Huw Fernie and his team are now confirmed to pick up their first two bonus points of the Clipper Race series so far.

PSP Logistics Skipper Max Stunell says: “Aarrgghhh *&^&**" wind holes! Earlier today another vessel hailed us on the VHF saying that they had been watching us for a couple of hours on the AIS (Automatic Identification System) and asked if we needed any assistance. I thanked them and politely told them that we were in fact involved in a yacht race, I think I could hear someone laughing in the background as they wished us luck.”

At the time of reporting Garmin is seventh (156 NM behind the leader), GREAT Britain eighth (190 NM), Mission Performance is ninth (240 NM), Visit Seattle tenth (261 NM), PSP Logistics (307 NM) is eleventh and Da Nang – Viet Nam is twelfth (327 NM).

Stay tuned to the Race Viewer to see which direction the wind will fill in from first, and whether it will benefit the leaders in the south, or allow the teams further inshore to claw back some miles in the PSP Logistics Panama Cup.

*All positions correct as of 0900 UTC

If you are inspired by our crew and would like to take part in the 2017-18 or 2019-20 editions of the Clipper Race, contact our recruitment team to find out more.To read the latest crew diaries, click here.

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 rules in our daily report. Click here to read more if you missed it the first time round.

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