Race 4 Day 4: LMAX Exchange sets Ocean Sprint time to beat

05 December 2015

LMAX Exchange is reaping the rewards of its decision to enter Stealth Mode for 24 hours, as it has so far recorded the fastest Ocean Sprint time of the five teams that have completed it, after re-emerging at the front of the fleet at 1800 UTC on Friday when its time under the radar drew to a close. It has since dropped back to second, but less than six nautical miles separates it from leader Mission Performance.

LMAX Exchange, which has achieved two first place finishes in the overall Clipper 2015-16 Race, has yet to win any bonus points for an Ocean Sprint. In the final hours of the Race 4 sprint, Skipper Olivier Cardin said the conditions have been challenging: "What an Ocean Sprint! We can imagine a sprint like a big run with top speed and lot of sensation. This one is like a marathon. We are beating upwind, smashing waves, healing 45 degrees and all the boats are doing the same.

“But this sprint is really interesting in terms of tactics and positioning in the fleet. With our friends GREAT Britain and Garmin we are on the same option fighting all the time for each metre. As I write, the end is about three hours away. We are pushing hard as it will be very close with GREAT Britain."

GREAT Britain, currently in fourth place, did not manage to beat LMAX Exchange’s elapsed time, as it was the third fastest team to complete the sprint in a time of 38 hours 19 minutes. Garmin’s elapsed time was only seven minutes slower than LMAX Exchange at 37 hours 54 minutes. Mission Performance, which has retaken the lead in the Elliot Brown Timekeeper Cup finished it in 39 hours 27 minutes and Visit Seattle completed the course in 41 hours 17 minutes. All of these times are provisional until verified by the Race Office when the teams arrive in Sydney.

The gap between the first and twelfth teams has widened to 163 nautical miles, with some boats finding themselves sailing into light airs and thereby thwarting any chance of competing for the additional points on offer. However the wind is due to build throughout the next 24 hours with gusts of up to 30-35 knots expected.

Derry~Londonderry~Doire, which took the Ocean Sprint points in the last race to Albany is currently in eighth place and Skipper Daniel Smith explains his team’s tactics in the variable wind conditions over the last 24 hours: “We headed north east during the night looking for a favourable wind shift which was in lighter winds. It became apparent as we got further north the light winds were coming but the wind shift wasn't. We chose to tack and take a course heading south east which took us into stronger breeze.

“Looking at the positions of the boats we left in the north we are glad we tacked when we did and wish we'd tacked sooner, they must have had a slower night than us. Fingers crossed our new sail plan will carry us through the night and help us eat away the mileage.”

Three nautical miles behind Derry~Londonderry~Doire is IchorCoal, another previous Ocean Sprint winner from the race across the South Atlantic. Skipper Darren Ladd says: “Gusty headwinds have been replaced by lighter airs, both stubbornly coming out of the east. Progress is unspectacular as we try to make as much ground towards 132 east and the end of the Ocean Sprint as possible. With the winds forecast to back and increase we are in a good place to take advantage of the shift, if and when it comes.”

With the leading boat and positions continually changing in this race, who knows how the stronger winds and blustery conditions will affect the fleet. Stay tuned to the Race Viewer to see which teams will benefit from the changing conditions.

All positions are correct as of 1000 UTC.

Don’t forget about the Elliot Brown Timekeeper Cup Competition which gives you the chance to win a limited edition watch as worn by the Clipper Race Skippers in their global endurance challenge.

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