Race 12 Day 6: Teams battle for speed as they turn north towards Derry-Londonderry

26 June 2016

The brakes have been put on the rollercoaster ride for now after the teams made the turn north around the Ice Box perimeter and now find themselves caught in the lighter winds of the North Atlantic High, but they are at least now pointing towards finish destination Derry-Londonderry.

Home port entry Derry~Londonderry~Doire still appears to be leading the race, with ClipperTelemed+ second (9NM behind) and Da Nang – Viet Nam (32NM)currently showing in third, however with Garmin and LMAX Exchange in Stealth Mode, these teams will be aware that their positions are under threat until the invisibility cloaks are removed.

None of the teams that can be seen have taken the option of the Scoring Gate, a decision by which Derry~Londonderry~Doire Skipper Dan Smith reports: “It'll be obvious by now that we have decided to miss the Scoring Gate. This is due to the centre of the high pressure system being directly over it creating a wind hole we were not prepared to sail into. Other boats have gone into Stealth Mode but is this a bluff or a double bluff? If they go for the Scoring Gate it means points now but risks their race finish position. Time will tell what their tactics have been.”

GREAT Britain came out of Stealth Mode this morning, and is now 39NM behind the leader though Skipper Peter Thornton reports that his tactical move didn’t turn out according to plan: He says: “The actual sailing has been good but with covering a certain boat which shall remain nameless protecting certain 'points', coupled with less favourable current than expected and a very weak patchy wind after sunset, overall - not good. We've basically sailed further than we needed to, it's about as simple as that. However, we will persevere and there's a bit to go until the finish line yet!”

LMAX Exchange’s report aims to keep Race Viewers guessing, as does Garmin’s, in which Skipper Ash Skett says: “We joined GREAT Britain in Stealth Mode yesterday and without wanting give too much away, there is a real battle going on at the moment.

“The winds have softened as expected and we are doing everything in our power to squeeze every .01 knot of boat speed to try to get ahead of them at this crucial part of the race. With the overall leaderboard so tight, every point is crucial at this stage.”

Garmin’s period of Stealth Mode ends at 1200 UTC (midday) and LMAX Exchange comes out of Stealth Mode at 1800 UTC so only time will tell how their tactics have affected the leaderboard.

With just 56NM separating the top eleven teams, there is still everything to race for. In the back half of the fleet just 8NM separates Unicef, Mission Performance, Qingdao, Visit Seattle and PSP Logistics.

Reporting on the conditions today, which are a real contrast to the strong winds and currents which have powered the fleet forward for the past previous five days, Visit SeattleSkipper Huw Fernie explains: “The winds and sea state have really eased off now and we are into much flatter water out here. It's far more comfortable on board now that we have left the Gulf Stream which means the water temperature is now more reasonable and we can also keep the hatches open to get fresh air down into the boat. So a welcome relief from the damp and bouncy conditions we've had since race start.”

Huw adds: “Luckily for us these are the conditions that we became well practised with during Leg 7 and the boat speed is always high. The plan now is to go as fast as possible to clear the northern edge of the North Atlantic High pressure system; an area of light winds that is growing in front of us each day. If we make it past then we'll be on for a good trip to Derry-Londonderry and if we slip up and get caught in the light winds, we'll add days to the trip. We can only do what the winds let us so it's mostly up to fate and of course our man in Rio (Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell) who'll be sending out a new forecast shortly.”

IchorCoal, in twelfth position, is back racing and has approximately 430NM to go before it makes the turn and joins the rest of the fleet on its northerly course. As the teams ahead battle the lighter conditions, now could be chance for the team to make up some miles, and even go for the added bonus of the Scoring Gate points as it looks to claw back any available points in this race.

How long will the lighter winds last for, and what effect will LMAX ExchangeandGarmin’s Stealth Mode have on the leaderboard? Click here to follow the Race Viewer and stay up to date in Race 12: The LegendDerry Finale.

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