Day 1 of the Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge and racing is extremely tight, with positions changing regularly as the teams focus on constant trimming off the Hebrides.

Race 13 got underway at 1800 local time (1700 UTC) Sunday under mostly clear skies and flat sea conditions with a building south-westerly wind, and was watched by thousands of supporters who gathered at Greencastle, County Donegal, following the Derry-Londonderry stopover.

Pressure is firmly on the overall leaders as the penultimate race of the global series could be anyone’s due to the short sprint to Den Helder, The Netherlands, and the extreme tidal conditions the race route will throw up.

LMAX Exchange is in first*, 0.94 nautical miles ahead of Derry~Londonderry~Doire, and Visit Seattle in third, 2.34 NMs behind the leader. 17 NMs separates the entire fleet, with podium contender Garmin in twelfth currently following frustrating wind holes after the start yesterday.

Following the festival and stopover in its home port, Derry~Londonderry~Doire was buoyed by the support and eager to get back to sea again to contend for the overall leaderboard spot held by rival LMAX Exchange.

Derry~Londonderry~Doire Skipper Daniel Smith described the last 16 hours and the fight for the podium in his Skipper report today. “Hard work saw us first around the windward mark, first around the wing mark and cross gybing with Garmin as we left the River Foyle. Light winds as we left the river mouth saw our lead being eaten away and the first night saw some massively tight racing with our positions changing regularly.

“We are now under spinnaker and passing west of the Hebrides rounding our second waypoint. LMAX Exchange currently leads the fleet 1 nautical mile ahead. There is some very tight racing between the entire fleet that means this race is going to be a battle right to the end with any boat being in with a chance,” Dan added.

For ClipperTelemed+, which has been on the podium for the last three races turning around the team’s fortunes, the race has not got off to a good start.

Currently in eighth, Skipper Matt Mitchell outlined the lack of opportunities to catch up this race in his blog today. “It's been an eventful race already, the start was ok until our tack line got wrapped around the bowsprit, causing the shackle to blow itself meaning we had to execute a quick drop and change to another spinnaker.

“Then, last night seconds before we were about to change down from our lightweight spinnaker, the head ripped clean off. The crew did well in recovery, however all mishaps have seen us towards the back of the fleet which is annoying, especially in light of our recent success. Chances to catch up in this race will be few and far between,” Matt added.

In his weather briefing to the Skippers today, Simon Rowell, the Clipper Race’s Meteorologist, said the wind would back over the next day.

“The south westerlies you have now should back south, south-south-easterly over the next 36 hours and then stay south, south-easterly until Thursday when the small high in the North Sea should finally get shoved east by an incoming low. As the wind does back over today and tomorrow it probably won’t be as smooth a change as the GRIB weather files and the weather charts show, and as you’ll be downwind of some fairly significant topographic features you may get some quite localised and sudden shifts and patches,” Simon added.

*Positions correct as of 0900 UTC.

How will Race 13 play out? Will the overall leaderboard leaders hold onto the top three podium spots?

Follow every update here on the Race Viewer.

The fleet is expected to cross the finish line off Den Helder on 22-23 July.

There is a range of activities planned for the fleet’s stay in Den Helder, including a Summer Carnival and Nautical Festival.

For more information on some of the events happening, such as live music, DJs and a food truck festival, click here.

Join The Race