21 February 2018

The finish line is tantalisingly close for the leading teams but, with the wind filling in for the boats at the back of the fleet before it reaches those at the front, it’s going to be a nail-biting end to Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race, with all teams currently predicted to finish within 24 hours of each other!

With less than 200nm to go on Day 22, PSP Logistics is still in the lead but as the team waits for the wind to fill in, Skipper Matt Mitchell is wondering how the last stretch of the race will pan out. He says: “This is getting really painful! We've just about got away with it for the last few position updates, but not sure how long our luck will hold out for!”

He adds: “We really need the wind to kick in as forecast - it is currently about half what the forecast thinks we should have now so it's a bit of a driftathon until the wind fills in. This is going to feel like the longest 200 nautical miles ever!”

In second place, Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch is ruing his luck after going from being approximately 30nm ahead of PSP Logistics around 48 hours ago to now finding himself 40nm behind. Chris reports: “Over the last two days, the whole fleet played catch up with us and the last 24 hours were the worst. PSP Logistics sailed right past us and Sanya Serenity Coast, Unicef and Dare To Lead are now less than 20nm behind. And there is not much we can do. We tried every possible sail plan…”

The battle for the remaining podium position could come down to the wire. Currently third place is occupied by Sanya Serenity Coast and Skipper Wendy Tuck is keen to get her team into its home port as quickly as possible, not just to enjoy their homecoming moment but also as she knows they’ll have to finish at least 1 hour and 24 minutes ahead of fourth placed Dare To Lead due its redress. Wendy says: “Still waiting for this new wind to arrive. Hopefully we get it early this evening and should push us nicely towards Sanya. It’s getting closer and Sanya is just around the corner… if your corner was just over 200nm.”

In fifth place, Unicef Skipper Bob Beggs looks on the bright side about what the current conditions mean for those watching the Clipper Race Viewer back home. He says: “It creates new hope that the yachts at the back may have the opportunity to improve their position by hopefully sailing around a becalmed adversary.”

He adds: “As always ETAs are for travel agents and not sailing yachts! Just 260 nautical miles to go and there may just be a shuffle in positions yet?”

IMAGE: Fleet positions (correct at time of writing).

Demonstrating Bob’s thoughts, sixth-placed Visit Seattle has had a remarkable 24 hours, leapfrogging Liverpool 2018, which is now seventh after it became becalmed in a wind hole. Visit Seattle Skipper Nikki Henderson explains: “Despite it being an uncomfortable move initially to head north away from Sanya, it has paid off and we have managed to keep moving whilst the rest of the fleet slowed down.”

She adds: “Definitely some luck on our side too naturally, as we (I think...?) stayed just west of the forecast wind hole. We are sailing hard trying to aim to catch up as much as we can. Whilst the compression of the fleet is painful for the guys up ahead, it is fun to have some close racing.”

Further south, Garmin remains in eighth place but the two teams behind are catching up as the breeze fills in. HotelPlanner.com is just four nautical miles behind in ninth place and GREAT Britain, which is now tenth is enjoying better sailing conditions and is just five nautical miles behind having closed the gap from 74nm three days ago.

Nasdaq, now out of Stealth Mode, is in eleventh and Skipper Rob Graham remains optimistic of his team’s performance on the final straight. He says: “We currently have under 450nm to go. We found good NE wind overnight and now everyone is hard at work squeezing the last fractions of a knot from the boat.”

Clipper Race Meteorologist, Simon Rowell, forecasts that the wind that has reached the northern boats should reach the rest of the teams today making for an exciting drag race to the finish. Stay glued throughout today to see what happens.

Follow the teams on their final stretch into Sanya via the Clipper Race Viewer and hear more from the Skippers and crew on the Team Pages.

Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race will finish in Sanya Serenity Marina, Sanya. Click here to see the latest Estimated Arrival Times and find out more about the stopover schedule here.

*All positions correct at time of writing.

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