Race 11 Day 7: Fleet prepares for Tropical Storm Colin to hit as battle heats up

07 June 2016

The battle between Garmin and ClipperTelemed+ has intensified at the top of the leaderboard, with ClipperTelemed+ now ahead by less than 7 nautical miles.

However, a shakeup of the leaderboard is on the cards as Tropical Storm Colin is due to pass over the fleet today, bringing with it the toughest challenge of Leg 7 so far with predicted 50 knot winds and sustained gusting of 60 knots.

ClipperTelemed+ Skipper Matt Mitchell said it was looking like his team would miss the worst of TS Colin as they should be just north of it by the time it passes but that the big conditions could end up benefiting the chasing teams.

“This is a double-edged sword however as although we will miss the massive gusts (by Leg 7 standards at least) on the eastern edge of the TS, we will be exposed to the squiggly wind in the north west quadrant,” Matt explained.

“So while the guys to the south will be smoking along at 15 knots pointing their bowsprits at our backside, we are likely to be struggling to make 7 knots until the wind fills in from the north west.

“We are hoping to maintain enough distance that the rest of the fleet physically won't have enough time or enough race course left to overtake. Time will tell,” Matt added.

Most of the Skippers appear to be looking forward to a more challenging weather front following the lighter conditions experienced so far on this US Coast to Coast Leg, as IchorCoal Skipper Rich Gould, currently in eleventh position, says: “It’s been a while since I have seen a bit of a blow and I am looking forward to it, big boat speeds and big surf, good times indeed. A refreshing change after the past month of very light wind sailing. I managed to get a good amount of sleep today, the deck speaker is charged and the ACDC playlist is cued up and ready to go, so come on Colin, let’s be having ya..”

Teams are preparing for the heavy weather with the trysail and smaller sails ready on deck so the sail area can be reduced quickly. The storm should hit in the morning and be gone by sunset due to its fast-moving nature.

As the fleet readies itself for its first big test in a while, Mission Performance, in Stealth Mode until 05:59 UTC tomorrow, Skipper Greg Miller explains: “Mother watches have been moved around so we have the stronger helms up on deck when we need them. Personal belongings have been stowed better in the hope that they will not escape during the heavy weather and end up all over the boat, and finally the crew have been prepared and briefed to within an inch of their lives!

“Some of the Leg 7 Warriors haven’t seen anything resembling challenging weather so far so this will be a tick in their heavy weather boxes!”

Visit Seattle, ClipperTelemed+ and Garmin have now finished the Ocean Sprint section of the course and are making 11 knots, with all the other yachts currently battling it out to complete the time trail quickest. Visit Seattle is the fastest so far, with a time of 14 hours 36 minutes, against ClipperTelemed+'s time of 15 hours 04 minutes and Garmin’s 15 hours 55 minutes.

Visit Seattle has held its third place overnight despite a course change that put the yacht against a stronger current, while just over 10 NMs still separates the fourth to ninth place yachts.

In her Skipper blog today, Da Nang – Viet Nam (in eighth) Skipper Wendy Tuck said a game of yacht dominoes was playing out amongst the rest of the fleet, with teams all gybing after one yacht gybes to cover each other’s courses.

LMAX Exchange will incur a 1 hour and 10 minute time penalty on Race 11. On 3 June, LMAX Exchange entered the 12 mile exclusion zone surrounding Haiti in contravention of the Course Instructions.

As a result of this, the Race Committee has decided to penalise LMAX Exchange with the time penalty. This is made up of 10 minutes that is estimated for it to return to the exact location of the contravention before it altered course to increase its distance to Haiti, and a further 60 minutes for any advantage it may have been gained.


Follow the denouement of Race 11 in the final 500 miles to New York on the Race Viewer here.

*All positions correct as of 0900 UTC.

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Image: Heath Holden Photography.

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