Race 2 Day 9: Speed records broken as teams tested by front

16 October 2015

It has been a day of fast spinnaker sailing as the front passed over the fleet, with multiple teams breaking speed and distance records, including another new reported top speed of 32.9 knots whilst surfing in the gusts on board Mission Performance.

The wind has eased slightly now to around 20 knots for the front of the pack, but with some gusts of up to 40 knots still providing lively conditions. Garmin, in first place, is 14 nautical miles ahead of second-placed GREAT Britain and has 1246 nautical miles to run until the finish in Cape Town.

Next up on Race 2: The Stormhoek Race to the Cape of Storms is the Ocean Sprint section, which the front runners are 40 nautical miles away from starting in attempt for an extra two bonus point for the fastest time across it.

Darren Ladd, Skipper of IchorCoal, in tenth place overall, and further south on the Great Circle Route, said his team’s 24 hour distance covered figure will be a cracker today. “The good ship IchorCoal has been surfing its way towards Cape Town under a reefed main and white sails at times hitting over 20 knots. At last the winds are becoming favourable and we can point more or less towards the destination. Midday tomorrow shows lighter winds up north so we'll discover if the plan to head south has been worth it. It certainly wasn't the popular choice, but there are a few of us down here.

“Despite the challenging conditions, the crew’s mood is buoyant. There are lots of cheers and noise from the deck as each helm tries to outdo the last,” he added.

For the two westerly boats, Qingdao and LMAX Exchange, it was the opposite weather situation, with a day of frustratingly light winds. Using their average speed to date so far then LMAX Exchange is ninth, and Qingdao is twelfth.

Igor Gotlibovych, Skipper of Qingdao, says: “We struggled to make progress upwind, with tacking angles well above the usual. Since race start, the wind has now gone one full circle - with us putting in one gybe and one tack respectively. Such is the cycle of the South Atlantic weather, driven by the constant passage of low pressure system with high pressure cells forming the meshing cogwheels in between,” Igor added.

But conditions will be similar to that the main fleet has experienced for LMAX Exchange and Qingdao over the next two days, with strong winds and gusts into the 40s, Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell predicted.

Will LMAX Exchange and Qingdao make up time? Who will record the fastest time across the Ocean Sprint section? Keep following progress on the Race Viewer.

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