​Race 3 Day 14: High speeds and big surf keep Clipper Race steaming through Southern Ocean

14 November 2015

Despite some predicted short-term respite, strong winds, big waves and squalls, which were most extreme in the south east, have meant yesterday was anything but restful for some teams in the leading half of the Clipper Race fleet as it continues to steam to Albany.

Dan Smith, Skipper of second placed Derry~Londonderry~Doire reports: “Yesterday was the most full on day with spinnaker that we've had yet.After initially swapping the sails due to noticing some rips, the wind built and was strong all day reading 25 to 35 knots on our instruments.

“High winds meant high speeds and big waves meant big surfs. All crew were working flat out to keep the boat pointing in the right direction and sails trimmed well and not flogging.Speeds were averaging mid-teens with surfs pushing up into the 20 knots. Initially surfs were short but by the end of the day they went on for minutes, as the boat skipped from one wave to the next as it blasted towards Albany.”

There have been no changes in the overall fleet positions, though after moving up into fifth place the previous day, Garmin Skipper Ash Skett says his long term tactic of staying south is finally starting to pay off as the wind down there is becoming more favourable. He says: “It's been a full on 24 hours for Garmin and her crew as changing winds require constant adjustments to her sail plan. The front passed over yesterday morning and has left us with a big mess of squalls everywhere.

“A lot of the time they will pass by and we will just catch the fringes of them, bringing slightly more wind. However last night we were caught in the middle of a big one. It brought with it driving hailstones and 70 knots of wind which we were not quite prepared for. Needless to say close attention has been paid to every squall since and reefing is almost an hourly event.”

Proving the fact that weather can be very different depending on your position within a relatively small area, Mission Performance Skipper Greg Miller, approximately 80 miles north of Garmin explains: “So, I have been talking about this blow coming through now for a few days. It didn’t come through last night or this morning, but I believe it is just beginning now. The wind is finally increasing and the reefs are going in after a glorious kite run this morning where we were surfing at 20+ knots.”

Ahead of a weather ridge predicted yesterday, wind is expected to veer and then get patchy today, coming back in quite strongly from the north-west before the next front hits in the following 24 to 48 hrs. Generally this front looks to be not too strong, with gusts into the region of 40 to 50 knots, but the clouds are pretty deep, so stronger squalls are expected.

Stay tuned to the Race Tracker as the start of the Ocean Sprint, now within 340 nautical miles of leading team LMAX Exchange, draws closer.

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