Race 13 Day 3: Squalls, lightning and a lot of pressure

20 July 2016

The fleet is contending with squalls, lightning and navigating the North Sea oil rigs, and with the lead changing multiple times in the last 24 hours, the pressure is intense.

Having passed through the Pentland Firth with its furious tides and eddies, the teams are now beating in stronger winds, but with the threat of shifty, patchy winds and more thunderstorms imminent, the course is anything but straightforward.

The pressure on the overall leaderboard leaders can clearly be felt in their Skipper blogs as they fight to hold onto their position.

With the leaderboard having had many shakeups in the last 24 hours, Visit Seattle is currently holding the lead*, with PSP Logistics in second and Mission Performance in third on day three of the Den Helder North Seas Challenge.

Chasing his team’s first podium, Mission Performance Skipper Greg Miller described the last day’s racing which saw it take a gamble which paid off.

“An interesting day has been had. Coming through the Pentland Firth was at first frustrating which turned into exhilarating as we came through the acceleration zone of the tide between mainland Scotland and the island of Stroma.

Mission Performance was the only boat that chose to take this more direct route, which was a bit of a gamble but seemed to pay off. Then the long slog down the North Sea towards Den Helder and our penultimate stopover.

"The race is still afoot and we still have many gains that can be made. We are all feeling good about this race and will continue to fight until the war is over in true Warrior fashion!” Greg added.

The wind and sea state have also built as Rich Gould, Skipper of IchorCoal, in twelfth place, said in his Skipper report today. “Since rounding the top of Scotland the wind has steadily increased, and of course shifted so that it is coming from the exact direction we would like to go. This now sees us hard on the building breeze, preparing for the change in the weather.

“With less than 400 nautical miles to Den Helder and the fleet tightly packed the upwind slog could shake positions up in any manner between here and the finish.

“We have started to see oil and gas platforms now, and of course many fishing boats of the North Sea fleet that are an added challenge that we must pick our way through in closing stages of this epic round the world adventure,” Rich added.

Simon Rowell, the Clipper Race’s Meteorologist, said the weather for the last few hundred miles was going to be a real mix, meaning much opportunity for gains.

“As a small cyclonic system going north of the fleet should bring a few hours of very changeable and shifty winds together with a fair amount of rain, including possible thunderstorms with the hot air in from the south, before settling in for maybe 12 hours of west, north-westerly winds. After this a high pressure system starts to develop in the North Sea as a weak ridge develops there between lows. This looks like it will be quite stable and remain for two to three days,” Simon added.

*Positions correct as of 1000 UTC.

How will Race 13 play out? Who will be victorious? Will the overall leaderboard change as a result of the Race 13 positions?

Follow every update here on the Race Viewer.

The fleet is expected to cross the finish line off Den Helder on 22 July. See the ETAs into Willemsoord Marina here.

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.

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