Race 3 Day 17: Stormforce winds catch up with western teams

17 November 2015

Teams in the west are experiencing the toughest conditions today as a stormforce front, expected to gust up to 70 to 80 knots, catches up behind them. Teams in the east will soon meet a front of their own, whilst the middle of the fleet is caught between the two, preparing for the weather to catch them.

PSP Logistics Skipper Max Stunell, currently in tenth position and one of most western positions, explains: “We pushed hard yesterday to stay ahead of the following front so that it would pass through during daylight hours today. The plan worked and we are now six hours into this front as it is almost 1200 local time.

“Conditions on deck are lively, we are deeply reefed, have our storm jib flying up forward, as we run with the wind and the sea. There is still at least another six hours of the front to pass with possibly the worst of it yet to come. Currently stable in high 30s knots of wind with gusts of high 40s, it's also a little wet up on deck!”

Behind PSP Logistics in twelfth place, Unicef Skipper Jim Prendergast adds: “We are in it now, gusts well above 65+ knots and complicated sea state. It is very wet on deck. Hopefully it will blow through in eight hours or so. It is now very difficult getting about below decks.”

Further ahead, IchorCoal Skipper Darren Ladd, in seventh place, is enjoying the current conditions but is preparing his team for the winds which are set to catch up with them. He says: “Champagne sailing conditions are slowly being chased away by ominous looking clouds and a GRIB warning of storm force winds. One reef is replaced by a second and the threat of a head sail change has rippled through the on watch crew.

He later adds: “The call for a Yankee drop has just gone up. The winds are consistently above the mid-twenties so it's down with the Yankee 2 and up with the Yankee 3. Boat speed is a steady 12 knots and with the waves and gusts we are pushed nearer 16 knots. Beautiful conditions matched with exhilarating helming.”

Further forward at the front of the pack, Derry~Londonderry~Doire has recorded the fastest Ocean Sprint time of 17 hours 51 minutes, beating LMAX Exchange’s 18 hours 18 minutes. Qingdao recorded 18 hours and 19 minutes.

Garmin and GREAT Britain are currently fighting it out in their own Ocean Sprint battle. Less favourable winds mean neither team expects to break the record but are just as motivated to beat each other’s times for it. After match racing almost alongside each other overnight, Garmin has now pushed ahead into fourth place but with just two nautical miles between them, this cat and mouse fight looks far from over.

By the end of the day, the lead three teams, LMAX Exchange, Derry~Londonderry~Doire and Qingdao will have less than 1000 miles to go to Albany.

Qingdao Skipper Bob Beggs is not starting to dream of land just yet though, as he says: “If you talk to mountaineers often the most difficult and dangerous part of mountaineering is the descent. It's the same with ocean sailing with over 3,750 behind us, we are starting to climb to the north, after last night's chill the weather will start to warm up and we will later today have less than 1,000 miles to go.

“But this is no time to dream of hot baths and relax, it’s time to keep your guard up and focus, with high pressure coming and wind holes appearing in the forecast, the Southern Ocean hasn't let us out of her grip just yet.”

Stay tuned to the Race Viewer today as Race 3: The Wardan Whip continues on its challenging Southern Ocean sleigh-ride.

All positions correct as of 0900 UTC.

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