06 December 2017

The competition for the lead is heating up ahead of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint with less than five nautical miles separating the top five teams on Day 4 of Race 4: The ClipperTelemed+ Tasman Test.

Positions at the top of the leaderboard have been changing regularly over the last 24 hours and Skipper of current race leader Sanya Serenity Coast, Wendy Tuck, reports: “We have a drag race going on, folks - must make for interesting watching at home. Let me tell you though it makes for tense times on board, continually asking are we faster/slower, higher/lower all the time, definitely sleeping with one eye open.”

Having recently taken the lead back she added: “Keeps us on our toes so it’s all good. We are ready for anything. I think sometimes it’s easier to chase than to be chased.”

In second place is Unicef and the youngest ever Clipper Race Skipper, Nikki Henderson (24), is close behind on third-placed Visit Seattle and said: “’Lucky us’ and ‘lucky me’ have been the words revolving around my head today - not only the weather and the conditions but we also have an exciting match race on our hands. This is fun and exciting and keeps the crew on their toes and pushes us all to learn and improve and sail better and better.”

Garmin is in fourth place completing the current podium positions, with Qingdao in fifth but there is all to play for with little distance separating the teams and positions expected to change.

The Clipper Race fleet woke up to a beautiful South Australian morning only after being tested by a big cold front that came in overnight with winds increasing to 30 knots plus and Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “We had to reef the mainsail, take the spinnaker down and change to the Yankee. We are now flying towards our waypoint under white sails with boat speeds exceeding 10 knots. The sky cleared this morning, the sun is out and it is a beautiful day sailing in the Southern Ocean.”

HotelPlanner.com is currently holding onto sixth position around 15 nautical miles behind the lead while GREAT Britain is further to the north and currently in seventh place.

IMAGE: Fleet positions at time of writing

It has been a tough but rewarding night’s sailing for Liverpool 2018 in eighth place with Skipper Lance Shepherd reporting: “We pushed through some strong winds with very little star light or moon light. Both watches managed it well and we have pulled through to a glorious sunny South Australian morning. A highlight though was seeing a large pod of nearly 20 long-finned pilot whales cruise by us yesterday afternoon.”

In ninth place, Dare To Lead Skipper Dale Smyth remains optimistic and is looking ahead to the next challenge: “We are fast approaching the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint so another opportunity to gain some points. The forecast still looks good to get us to Tasmania in good time and then it’s anyone's guess what will happen.”

It has been a busy night for tenth-placed Nasdaq and Skipper Rob Graham reports: “We have been through a night and a morning of sail changes - reefs in and out, Staysail up and down and all three Yankees have been used. This has provided the opportunity for some good inter-watch competition as most of our racing headsail changes (from smaller to larger Yankees) are done against the clock.”

Eleventh placed PSP Logistics has also experienced squally conditions that has kept the team busy but Skipper Matt Mitchell believes that the tactic of going further south is starting to pay off: “We are still trying to chip away at the miles between us and the guys to the north and, so far, we have been between 1-2 knots faster on average, so the computer tells us anyway! Fingers crossed that trend continues.”

Clipper Race Meteorologist, Simon Rowell, forecasts that the teams keep the fast reaching conditions for about 24 hours before the wind will veer ahead of the next front which should catch up in the next 24-36 hours. In the meantime, teams can expect some squally conditions.

Stay tuned to the Clipper Race Viewer, with its hourly position updates, to see how the changing weather conditions will affect the fleet!

Read more on the Skipper Reports and Crew Blogs available on the Team Pages.

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