Race 3 Day 20: Final approach gets complicated as leaders enter Stealth Mode

20 November 2015

Competition is hotting up as the teams make their way out of the Southern Ocean chill and get ever closer to the warmth of Western Australia. Front three teams, LMAX Exchange, Derry~Londonderry~Doire and Qingdao have all opted to go into Stealth Mode at 0600UTC as they try to work out how best to avoid the light winds without giving away any tactics, while further back Unicef and ClipperTelemed+ are the final boats to start the Ocean Sprint.

Clipper Meteorologist Simon Rowell explains the complicated weather system that is testing the fleet as it fights to reach the finish line: “The high pressure system is starting to slide round the bottom of Australia, and as it does so it will split. The western part should stall, which will keep the incoming front away from the western boats, but also give them a tactical dilemma as they negotiate the light winds of the high.

“The eastern part of the high, as it slides around Cape Leeuwin, will bring a strip of light, variable winds directly in the path of the eastern boats. This is probably why the leading teams have gone into Stealth Mode - how each one does will be very useful information for the others, as each yacht is effectively a wind instrument which can be read if you know where it is and how fast it's moving.”

Garmin seems to have chosen the right route over the last twelve hours because having been overtaken by GREAT Britain the previous day, it is now back up to fourth and stretched almost 40 nautical miles ahead of its nearest competitor.

Skipper Ashley Skett says: “Our progress last night was surprisingly good. We managed to pick up a bit of breeze and made a good average of around 10 knots before the wind dropped off slightly again this morning. We are still going well though and we are hoping to squeeze around the top of the blocking high pressure system and make some ground on the boats ahead. The next 48 hours could be very interesting as we could still run into the middle part of the cell and loose the breeze altogether. It all makes for a tense finish, so watch this space!”

IchorCoal and Da Nang – Viet Nam have completed the Ocean Sprint but neither managed to better the 17 hour 51 minute time set by Derry~Londonderry~Doire. PSP Logistics, Visit Seattle, ClipperTelemed+ and Unicef are all now making their attempt at it however.

Max Stunell, Skipper of PSP Logistics, explains his team’s Ocean Sprint efforts, as he says: “Last night we entered the Ocean Sprint stage of the race. We started power reaching in light airs under Icarus (our lightweight spinnaker), making fairly good progress and the GRIBs forecast similar wind all night. But this is 43 degrees South and after 20 minutes dribbling into my pillow I was jolted awake by a slight broach and a big bear away as the wind picked up to the mid-20s. Too much for Icarus and as there was a slight change in wind angle the course best suited a Yankee. Chances of us averaging 13 knots to worry the leaders currently look wafer thin as it would require us to increase our current speed by at least 50 per cent for the next ten hours.”

Adding, Max notes: “We've been at sea for 20 days and now only have the equivalent of two Fastnet Races to go until Albany, really putting into perspective the distances we are sailing.”

Ocean Sprint times for the fleet so far:

17 hours 51 minutes: Derry~Londonderry~Doire
18 hours 18 minutes: LMAX Exchange
18 hours 19 minutes: Qingdao
20 hours 07 minutes: Mission Performance
24 hours 02 minutes: Da Nang – Viet Nam
24 hours 35 minutes: GREAT Britain
24 hours 41 minutes: Garmin
27 hours 45 minutes: IchorCoal

Stay tuned to the Race Viewer to see if PSP Logistics or any of the other teams manage to record a new fastest time for the Ocean Sprint and discover if any of the boats were able to take advantage while in Stealth Mode.

For the latest ETAs into Albany, click here.

All positions correct at 0900UTC.

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