Race 3 day 19: Light winds frustrate front runners in approach to Albany

19 November 2015

In complete contrast to the conditions the western half of the fleet faced 48 hours ago, the boats further east are now toying with tactics as pockets of light winds hinder their approach to the Wardan Whip finish line.

LMAX Exchange has extended its lead in the last 24 hours and now lies 150 nautical miles ahead of Derry~Londonderry~Doire in second place, with Qingdao a further 24 nautical miles behind that. While clearly content with his team’s position, Olivier Cardin, Skipper of LMAX Exchange is wary of the conditions ahead: “After long days surrounded by grey, wet and windy weather, the sun and a nice blue sky appeared this morning. It's good to be able to open the boat and to tidy up a bit. This was also the opportunity to send round the world crew member Junior Hoorelbeke to the top of the mast for maintenance. The nice weather is the first sign of the anticyclone that will try to stop us for a while.

“Derry~Londonderry~Doire and Qingdao are still suffering and we are waiting for our turn. I hope we will not have to wait too long. On this other side of the high it will be a final sprint on fine reach on a Starboard tack to Albany.”

Behind the front three teams, the dual for fourth place between GREAT Britain and Garmin continues, with the former regaining the lead in the last twelve hours, but with less than three miles separating the pair as they work out how best to deal with the decreasing wind shift, the Skippers know that one slip up will hand the advantage over to the other. GREAT Britain Skipper Peter Thornton says: “So the winds from the frontal system that we've been banging on about for the past couple of days have been very favourable for us so far. Not too strong and a pretty good direction for making ground towards our destination.

"The actual front is full of drizzle and the odd gust but by and large it’s pretty steady at the moment and we're nearing the back of it now. Next up comes the light weather craziness! What will it do and where can we manage to position ourselves for the best chance of wiggling and leaning our way closer to Albany?”

In sixth place Mission Performance pushed hard in the Ocean Sprint, but it wasn’t enough to beat the fastest elapsed time, which is still held by Derry~Londonderry~Doire. Greg Miller, Mission Performance Skipper praised his team’s efforts: “It was a hard fight, we raised one of the spinnakers five times during our 20 hour 09 minute battle against the clock. They came down for various reasons, but this is the hardest we have worked and the most competitive we have been for an Ocean Sprint period.”

Meanwhile, at 0000 UTC ClipperTelemed+ went into Stealth Mode, a tactical tool afforded the teams by the Race Office, which means the boat’s position is hidden from the Race Viewer and goes unreported to the rest of the fleet for 24 hours. Skipper Matt Mitchell explains why they’ve decided to exercise their right to go under the radar at this stage of the race: “Don't worry everybody, we haven't gone mad, fairies haven't taken over the boat and we are still in full control of our faculties!

“A delegation of the crew and I, after much discussion and head scratching, have elected for a slightly different strategy which is very much a long term strategy and is going to enable us to better position the boat in order to deal with the blocking high between us and Albany. We are expecting short term losses that we hope to make up as the last part of the race progresses.”

Eighth placed Da Nang – Viet Nam started the Ocean Sprint at 06:45:50 UTC with the rest of the more westerly teams still on the approach, hoping by the time they reach the sprint start, winds will have strengthened and they can challenge Derry~Londonderry~Doire for the fastest time and with that take the two bonus points on offer.

Stay tuned to the Race Viewer to follow the fleet’s progress through Race 3, The Wardan Whip.

All positions correct as of 0900 UTC.

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