​Race 3 Day 21: Varying team tactics make for exciting closing stages

21 November 2015

While the front of the fleet is hoping to have cleared the last of the very light winds, the boats further back are averaging 10 to 12 knots as they tick off the miles to Albany.

The evidence of ClipperTelemed+’s decision to enter Stealth Mode over 48 hours ago is now becoming clear as it is taking a much more northerly route than the rest of the fleet in the hope that it will avoid the worst of the light winds up ahead. With Unicef crossing 95 degrees east at a very similar time, but much further south, it will be interesting to see who has made the better choice and if ClipperTelemed+’s gamble will pay off.

ClipperTelemed+ Skipper Matt Mitchell says: “We are making good progress up here and are only a few degrees from following our waypoint so our VMG (Velocity Made Good) is almost matching our boat speed and we have been averaging between 10 and 12 knots with the wind a few degrees forward of the beam. This is a comfortable and fast point of sail and at the moment we are set to make it above the high pressure system within the next 24 hours or so.

“We will have a slightly slower patch for a few hours, then we will have broken through the other side and be in the generally southerly airflow meaning that we will be on the same point of sail, just on the other tack. Then it should be plain, fast sailing all the way in to Albany. Who knows if this strategy will pay off but at least we have good boat speed and will continue to have good boat speed for the majority of the rest of this race.”

Mission Performance, which is nearing the end of its 24 hours under the radar, hopes to have made good progress having worked hard to get the most out of the boat. We will see the results of the teams’ efforts when it comes out of Stealth Mode at 1200 UTC. Skipper Greg Miller reports: “When I came up on deck and we were going very slowly in around 4 to 5 knots of breeze, the windseeker was up and the breeze was coming in from the port midship.

“This is the first time this situation has arisen. So we came up 20 degrees further into the wind and used the windseeker to build the apparent wind. Then quick as lightning we got the Yankee 1 up and the windseeker down, converting all of that energy into the bigger sail and increasing our speed and apparent wind even more. The helm was moved down to the leeward (low) side and then trimmed ‘Missi’ (our yacht) by the tell-tales on the Yankee. We have had relatively good speeds since this morning and are making steady progress towards Albany.”

The battle between Garmin and GREAT Britain for fourth place has taken a twist with the former entering Stealth Mode at 0600 UTC so its position will be unreported to its nearest rival, and everyone other than the Race Office, for 24 hours. At the time of entering Stealth Mode, Garmin held the advantage over GREAT Britain.

As for the front three boats, all of them reappeared on the Race Viewer at 0600 UTC and while there has been no positional changes with LMAX Exchange still the closest to the Wardan Whip finish line, Qingdao has closed in on second placed Derry~Londonderry~Doire. The Chinese entry has managed to narrow the gap to less than three nautical miles and at 0800 UTC was sailing at 7.4 knots, almost twice the speed of Derry~Londonderry~Doire’s 3.9 knots.

Qingdao Skipper Bob Beggs says: “Well I am not sure how but the last 24 hours followed the script. We plunged into the hole just a couple of hours ahead of anticipated and we now seem to be climbing out on the other side. Hopefully this fresh breeze we are now experiencing is going to drive us all the way to Albany.”

There has not been much change to the weather conditions in the last 24 hours. The main focus for the majority of the fleet remains negotiating the band of light winds and wind holes that lies between them and Albany.

Stay tuned to the Race Viewer to see whose tactics pay off as Race 3 enters the final stages.

For the latest ETAs into Albany, click here.

All positions correct at 0800 UTC.

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