​Race 6 Day 5: Mission Performance claims Ocean Sprint bonus points

07 January 2016

Mission Performance may have started the Ocean Sprint much later than anticipated after going to the aid of another vessel in distress, but the team has made up for lost time by recording the fastest time of the fleet through the 180 nM course. Skipper Greg Miller and his crew sailed from 32 degrees south crossing the sprint finish line at 29 degrees south in 22 hours 31 minutes, 29 minutes quicker than the second fastest time recorded by Visit Seattle.

Although the Mission Performance team knew it was recording fast speeds through the course, Skipper Greg says they didn’t want to presume they would win the two bonus points until it was confirmed: “At first light we got some more canvas up as the winds had abated a little, then this afternoon we raised the full main and were flying downwind with a Yankee 2 before we got the heavyweight spinnaker up for the last run to the Ocean Sprint finish.

“We had the wind from the start, whereas the rest of the fleet had the wind from around a third to half way through their sprints. As we were the southernmost boat we probably had the strongest winds but not being with the rest of the fleet I am just speculating!"

In addition the Race Committee has decided to award Mission Performance 11 hours 39 minutes of redress in relation to its diversion, which involved having round the world crew member Gavin Reid spending a couple of hours up the mast of the other yacht rescuing a sailor who had been up there for nine hours by the time they got him down. So while Mission Performance remains approximately 80 nautical miles behind the rest of the fleet, the redress will be awarded upon the team’s completion of the Henri Lloyd Hobart to Whitsundays Race.

Derry~Londonderry~Doire continues to lead the race to Abell Point Marina in Airlie Beach and is within 500 nM of the finish line. The decision of Skipper Daniel Smith and his crew to take an offshore route continues to pay off as they have recorded the greatest distance of the fleet in the last twelve hours of 111 nM and at 1000 UTC sailing at 11.4 knots were also doing the fastest speed.

LMAX Exchange has moved up to second place, pushing GREAT Britain down to third, with Garmin and ClipperTelemed+ now in fourth and fifth respectively. Skipper Olivier Cardin is enjoying LMAX Exchange’s dual with GREAT Britain which at 1000 UTC is only 0.6 nM to its stern: “It all started yesterday evening with two big squalls growing by the shore. Quite scary stuff, what wind is under this? In fact not a lot, just enough to make a bigger a hole in the lightweight during the previous gybe. A bigger hole will become big damage. So we immediately dropped the lightweight and prepared to hoist to medium weight. The team did very well and we saved our lead on Garmin.

“After that, Da Nang – Viet Nam popped up on the AIS (automatic identification system), 8 nautical miles ahead. The first target in sight! At the beginning of the night GREAT Britain appeared on AIS too at 10 nautical miles. THE BIG TARGET was there! Since then it's an obsession, GREAT Britain, GREAT Britain, GREAT Britain...Today, after catching up all the night we overtook it. Some spinnaker issues helped us to do that faster. I don't want to forget Garmin, still 5 nautical miles behind - always dangerous.”

Less than 4 nM separates IchorCoal in sixth, Da Nang – Viet Nam in seventh, Unicef in eighth and Qingdao in ninth place. As the teams jostle for position, the competitive spirit is all the stronger by being able to see their nearest rivals from on deck, as Qingdao Skipper Bob Beggs says: “Still in view Da Nang – Viet Nam, Unicef PSP Logistics and IchorCoal match racing at its very best. We are still under the medium weight spinnaker, see regular surfs over 18 knots boat speed but due to the East Australia Current our ground speed hovers at 10-11 knots.”

With the challenge of the current to contend with as well as varying wind speeds and direction, Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell says: “ Now that the low has moved south the next high cell is peeling off the mainland, and its eastern side should give the fleet favourable winds all the way in.

“Over the next 48 hours as the boats get further up the coast the wind will tend to come more onshore as opposed to along it. The temperature of the land will also increase, so if the teams take the close inshore option they will have to think carefully about the effect this will have on the wind direction and strength.”

Given the current positions of the teams and the predicted forecast, it is anticipated the first boats could cross the finish line in Airlie Beach in the early hours of Monday 11 January local time (approximately 0000-0600 UTC). The Race Office will update the ETAs as the fleet gets closer to the race finish. For the latest ETAs, click here.

To follow all the action in this exciting race, tune into the Race Viewer for position updates.

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All positions correct at 1000 UTC.

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