With favourable conditions on Day 17 of Race 2: The Commodore’s Cup to Punta del Este, Visit Sanya, China continues to stay ahead of the rest of the fleet, and has crossed the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint finish line at 0511 UTC today.

Skipper of Visit Sanya, Seumas Kellock, comments: “We find ourselves coming to the end of the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint, in my mind another mini race within a really big race.”

He continued: “The crew are doing a fantastic job of not becoming complacent after being on the same tack sailing in the same direction for such a long period of time. They are constantly checking trim asking questions, making sure sheets are run correctly.”

The Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint is a time trial between the lines of longitude 05°S and 10°S.. The fastest three teams will be awarded bonus race points (three for first, two for second, and one for third).

Edging closer to the sprint finish, hot on the heels of Visit Sanya, Qingdao, Skipper Chris Brooks said: “We have watched the boat ahead extend and the ones behind start eating our lead which is tough for the team and it's tough for me personally.”

He finished with: “Not anymore. We have now hit the turbo button. I hadn't seen it before but if you look at our speeds now we are matching and mighty fast it is too.”

Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam and Dare To Lead are also racing hard within the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint parameters. Guy Waites, Skipper of Dare To Lead commented: “The breeze remains consistent and soon the forecast will extend to our finish line. Will a hole appear to unnerve and unsettle us, or will the high pressure prevail and code sails all the way?”

Whilst the team leading the pack celebrate their position on the leaderboard, the jubilations are being echoed among the fleet as the teams mark a key milestone within the race. All the teams have now crossed the Equator, a big moment for crew experiencing their first encounter with Neptune. WTC Logistics Skipper Mark Burkes reported: “Neptune paid a visit at lunchtime in the form of Laurence Vignon, dressed in all the garb you'd expect of Neptune, plus locks of long grey hair and a beard. She looked very comical in the costume (plus Spinlock life jacket and tether). Very convincing.”

The fleet will now spend the next four months racing in the Southern Hemisphere before crossing back across the Equator during Leg 5: The Asia Pacific Challenge next year.

IMAGE: Visit Sanya, China

As all the teams focus on racing fast, pushing forward to Punta del Este, Zhuhai Skipper, Nick Leggatt, commented: “The entire fleet is now sailing as fast as they can go through the Trade Winds. The changes in wind speed and direction around here are quite subtle so it is unlikely that there will be significant changes in the ranking over the next few days, but miles can be gained by paying careful attention to the trimming and helming.”

Ben Keitch, Skipper on board the fifth placed Seattle, has the start of the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint in his sights and said: “The sailing has been perfect champagne conditions. We've had nothing less than a 16 knot reach for 24 hours and the wind is building and freeing by the hour. It is trim, trim, trim with the mantra can we be faster as we try and stay ahead of the close competition biting at our heels and catch up with Dare To Lead who is within our sights.”

Stay up to date as the Clipper Race fleet sprints south and battles for the final bonus points of Race 2 via the Race Viewer. You can also read all the stories from the crews’ Equator crossing experience by reading their blogs here.

Join The Race