After a thrilling Sydney Hobart campaign for the Clipper Race fleet, teams have been using the New Year period to prepare to head back on the water for Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race.

The Wondrous Whitsundays Race, will see teams line up at 1100 local time (0000 UTC) on Friday 5 January, to race 1,600 – nautical miles from Hobart, Tasmania, to Airlie Beach, in the Whitsundays. Forming the third and final race of Leg 4: The All Australian Leg, a key challenge for crews will be navigating through the dominating Eastern Australian Current (EAC).

It will also be a particularly tactical race, as Clipper Race Director Mark Light explains: “Speeds in the core of the EAC, an oceanic current which moves warm water from the tropical Coral Sea, are some of the strongest in the South Pacific and each team will need to agree on the best race tactic.

“Stay closer to the current where speeds are stronger or head further offshore where the effects of the current are weaker, but adding extra miles onto the race route.”

Teams will also need to think tactically about both the Scoring Gate and Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, particularly Garmin which has chosen to play its Joker during the Wondrous Whitsundays Race. These virtual gates offer the chance to pick up bonus race points, but could make the race route longer and teams could risk losing valuable leaderboard places.

The addition of headwinds from prevailing Easterlies could make the race a bit of a slog for Skippers and their crews, but should make for compelling Clipper Race Viewer watching for those following the race from home. Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell reports: “The current high is due to move away on the 5th giving quite strong headwinds for the first day or so of the race.

“This should be blown away by the next front, though, which is forecast for overnight on the 6th January.”

Luckily for the Clipper Race fleet, the stunning surroundings of the Whitsundays will be the reward and whilst the fleet is berthed at Abell Point Marina in Airlie Beach, the region will come alive with the inaugural Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival with an action packed schedule of bookable events.

Expected to take between eight and ten days, the Clipper Race yachts should arrive into Airlie Beach between January 13 and 15, 2018.

Explaining the reason for the race name, Tourism Whitsundays Sales and Marketing Manager Tash Wheeler explained: “We also chose the word wondrous to describe the Whitsundays in our promotions, as it sums up what our beautiful, wonderful region is all about – wondrous experiences on land and sea, wondrous views and 74 island wonders. So for us, it was a natural extension to name the race the ‘Wondrous Whitsundays Race’.

“We are very excited that the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race organisers have allowed us to name the last race of the Australian leg in honour of the Whitsundays, and hope that our wondrous region will go down in Clipper Race history!”

Going into the sixth of this thirteen individually scored race challenge, Sanya Serenity Coast leads the Clipper Race fleet overall standings with 56 points, just ahead of Qingdao (54) and Dare to Lead (49), which have both already used their Joker Cards. The full leaderboard, showing how the eleven teams currently sit overall in the Clipper 2017-18 Race, is kept up-to-date on the Clipper Race website.

Watch out on the Clipper Race: LIVE Facebook page to see the teams off the dock for the race re-start on Friday 5 January 2018 at 0800 local time UTC+11 (2100 UTC) before the race starts at 1100 local time (0000 UTC).

Wishing you could be out on the start line in Hobart, too? Well now you can, virtually, from the comfort of your own armchair; in fact, wherever you are with an internet link, via laptop, tablet or mobile.

The Clipper Race has teamed up once again with the world’s leading and most experienced team of digital yacht racing game experts at Virtual Regatta and after a competitive Race 5, the virtual ocean racing platform is once again ready for the start of Race 6. Full details of all the features and how to play are available in the game website.

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