Race 10 Day 19: 0.1 nautical mile between podium positions after 3000NM of racing

18 May 2016

While the teams behind continue to chase the leaders, the PSP Logistics Panama Cup has once again got even tighter among the front four boats. With LMAX Exchange still in pole position Unicef has slipped into second place ahead of ClipperTelemed+, with Derry~Londonderry~Doire 11NM behind them and in hot pursuit.

As the sun scorches down, the need for speed is powering LMAX Exchange towards the third compulsory gate en route to Panama, 801.9NM ahead. Skipper Olivier Cardin reports: “50 nautical miles from the Remedios Gate and we are one of three boats within 6 nautical miles of each other on the AIS (Automatic Identification System). Since this morning, the boats positioned north of us are faster so we are making course more north to try to cross ahead. We managed to do that as we are repositioned in front of the little group now. Keep going, cross fingers, we will win this gate!”

Two became three in the last 24 hours as Unicef closed the gap on the front two boats and after more than 3000NM of racing, was within half a nautical mile of ClipperTelemed+ at 0700 UTC. By the time the teams polled at 0800 UTC, Unicef had overtaken its rival and was 0.1NM ahead. The race for podium positions could not get much closer and there is all to play for as ClipperTelemed+ aims for its first top three finish of the entire global series so far.

“There are only 55 nautical miles until the third compulsory gate and we are neck and neck with Unicef which has managed to close the gap against us and LMAX Exchange today (Well done guys),” writes the very sporting ClipperTelemed+ Skipper Matt Mitchell in his daily report.

“For us, the wind has been capricious at best and coupled with a 2 knot current against us it has been a bit of a struggle to say the least. We are currently only able to point just south of the gate so if the wind doesn't shift to lift us to the line then we will have to tack to make it over,” he added.

As reported yesterday, Garmin’s inshore route finally paid off as it climbed up to fifth on the leaderboard. Having emerged from Stealth Mode at 1200 UTC, GREAT Britain has also risen through the ranks to sixth place, but now finds itself in another tight battlemid-fleet with Qingdao in seventh and IchorCoal in eighth.

“Since I last wrote, we've come out of Stealth Mode having crossed the second compulsory gate and have been making promising progress with some useful, if not a bit shifty in direction, tail winds. Right now though, after the breeze easing through most of the afternoon, which unfortunately was expected, we're in the realms of fairy feet down wind (sort of) sailing, carefully keeping the boat moving in about 5 knots, sometimes less, of air,” explains Peter Thornton, GREAT Britain Skipper.

Speaking of the battle for positions on the approach to the next compulsory gate, Peter continues: “So it looks a bit more interesting between us, Garmin, IchorCoal and Qingdao for the next 24-48 hours as we all try to hop our way from breeze line to breeze line to the next gate. The direction of the winds right now will be the difference, so there's not much any of us can do really apart from deal with whatever we've got and hope that the wind direction is worse somehow for the others! Ha… Well, you can always wish, eh?!”

It’s been another frustrating 24 hours for the crew of IchorCoal, dropping a place further and only managing to cover 37NM in the last 12 hours. Meanwhile ninth placed PSP Logistics has made the best progress in the fleet by making 79NM in the same time.

Following its 24 hours under the radar, Mission Performance is now in tenth place, 14NM ahead of Visit Seattle. Having triumphed in the Ocean Sprint for the first time in this tenth race of fourteen, Skipper Huw Fernie is hoping that some close racing will motivate the Visit Seattle team after sailing into light airs.

“Today was our slowest day yet and with what little wind we have we are heading as best we can for gate number three. A look at the Race Viewer shows that we'll be converging with PSP Logistics and Mission Performance over the next few days. It would be nice to race against another boat for a while, but meeting them will depend on who gets the best wind and who gets stuck in the light patches.”

As eleven teams race towards the Remedios gate, the third of four mandatory gates in this race, Da Nang – Viet Nam remains the only team still to cross through the second gate. As explained throughout this race the need for mandatory gates was outlined in the Course Instructions and explained to all Skippers and crew before the start of Race 10 in Seattle. The teams were fully briefed that the Race Committee has the option to conclude the race at any of these four gates. This will occur if the light winds that are a well-known feature in this region jeopardise the fleet’s strict schedule for the Panama Canal transit.

In the result that the race is called early, the final race positions for the PSP Logistics Panama Cup will be determined from the last gate that the entire fleet has passed through.

Stay tuned to the Race Viewer as the neck and neck battles continue in the PSP Logistics Panama Cup.

*All positions correct as of 0900 UTC

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