Just 35 nautical miles separate the whole Clipper Race fleet as teams approach the halfway stage in this fast, thrilling Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, enjoying champagne conditions as they fly south.

In the boldest tactical move, PSP Logistics has gybed west, away from the rest of the pack. Whilst the move initially saw the team move from first to eleventh position, Skipper Matt Mitchell is now back in the lead position in the Clipper Race class (40th overall out of 99 yachts still racing in the RSHYR) and hoping that the move will continue to pay off in the long run.

He explains: “We have gybed across the fleet as per our original plan and it seems that again we are the only ones thinking this so I am scratching my head and generally pacing at the moment as I am anxious as to whether we have made the right call or not.

“I do think that the westerly Clipper Race boats would have come out on top as has been illustrated with our crossing of Qingdao and Visit Seattle (morning Chris and Nikki!). Anyhow, we will see how the cookie crumbles and as we are all so evenly matched I am sure it will end up being a match race up the Derwent!”

Dare to Lead is hot on the heels of Sanya Serenity Coast and holds second place in the Clipper Race class. Skipper Dale Smyth is not getting complacent however, saying: “The competition is super tight between the Clipper Race fleet and one mistake would easily put you at the back so the pressure is on.”

Unicef, currently in third place, is just one nautical mile ahead of GREAT Britain in fourth. GREAT Britain Skipper Andy Burns seems pleased with progress made so far but reports: “I think we are all just happy that our trip back down is nowhere near as windless as our trip up after Race 4 from Fremantle to Sydney.”

He adds: “I was fitted with a Garmin chest camera and heart rate monitor for the start of the race so am looking forward to seeing how completely relaxed I was for all of that!”

Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck, in fifth, says: “Our start wasn’t the best we have had, but by the heads we had managed to get up into third place, with PSP Logistics just holding us off all the time.

“This has been the quickest ride I have had yet. It’s tight and I imagine it will remain so all the way to the finish, so fun and exciting once more.”

Elsewhere in the Clipper Race fleet, positions are changing often due to the close racing but at the time of reporting, Nasdaq is in sixth with Garmin holding seventh.

Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch, in eighth, who has competed in the Sydney Hobart before, knows that every little decision counts in this race. He reports: “We are just over half way there and the racing is extremely close. The smallest mistake or tactical error could cost anyone a position or two and the next decision we have to make is when to gybe to lay the south of Tasmania.”

Visit Seattle is currently in ninth with HotelPlanner.com in tenth and Liverpool 2018 in eleventh after making the decision to gybe west and follow PSP Logistics

Conall Morrison’s HotelPlanner.com team had an eventful beginning of the Sydney Hobart when they spotted a man overboard in the water. Skipper Conall reports: “As we were less than a mile away at the time, we jumped into action, it seems our training took over, we tacked, started the engine and dropped our headsails, making best speed to the position.

“I could see Invictus Games 2018 Down Under circling the man, and when we arrived on scene they had just passed him and given him some extra flotation, we manoeuvred into position and lowered our rescue swimmer over the side as I have only ever done for a dummy in the past. Everything went well and we recovered the crewmember.”

The team is expected to make a claim for redress for the time spent attending to the incident.

It seems that the battle between Invictus Games 2018 Game On and Invictus Games 2018 Down Under, both Clipper 68 yachts, is also very much on with the UK team, Game On, currently seven positions ahead of the Australian team.

With some 300 nautical miles until the finish, everything is still very much to play for amongst the Clipper Race class. Will PSP Logistics’ western gybe continue to pay off? Will the frontrunners manage to break away from the rest of the fleet?

Stay up to date with the Clipper Race fleet’s positions via the Clipper Race Viewer and track the teams compared to the rest of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet via the RSHYR tracker.

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