Race 7 Day 6: Scoring Gate beckons as teams battle squall attacks

25 January 2016

As the fleet passes New Ireland in Papua New Guinea, the leading four boats are within 80 nautical miles of the Scoring Gate and the chance to win the first points on offer in the Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race.

LMAX Exchange, Derry~Londonderry~Doire and Qingdao are at the front of the pack* in terms of the distance to finish in Da Nang, Vietnam, but all three look to be veering off and taking the slightly longer route behind GREAT Britain, in order to make the Scoring Gate situated at 02° 41.00S /152 52.00E and 02° 41.00S /152 52.500E where the first boat through will win three points, with two and one point for second and third.

With ever-changing winds and squalls to contend with Derry~Londonderry~Doire Skipper Daniel Smith sums up the events of the last 24 hours: “So after days of praying for something to cool us down, as night approached it started to rain and it kept raining for hours. Buckets of rain fell out of the sky making it impossible to see where we were going into the night. Thunder and lightning started and we were soaked through as rain pelted down and wind varied from 0 to 25 knots.

“Today we were getting on okay until the wind shut off completely for us. Frustratingly we have since watched boats sailing fast and catching up riding the front edge of a band of wind while our sails sag against the rigging. Thankfully the wind has arrived for us too now and although gentle it gives us something to work with to try and hold off Qingdao and LMAX Exchange which have made up about 15 nautical miles in a couple of hours.

After six days of racing, 102nM lies between the first and twelfth boat, Mission Performance. With the variable weather due to continue for the next week or so while the fleet makes its way towards the Philippines, it is a frustrating time for the teams, as Visit Seattle Skipper Huw Fernie explains:

“We had another good taste of life in the Doldrums yesterday; periods of not moving, some very high speeds as squall clouds passed us, and in between we had steady, light winds to make slow gains north. Unfortunately for us we were forced to tack upwind and that resulted in sailing just over 3 nautical miles to gain 1nM in the direction we wanted, frustrating for us on the boat and it was clear from our schedule updates that we were one of the few forced to do this.

“It all changed at dusk when a very nice squall cloud came and sat on us for a while. This was the first rain we have had in two or three days so was very welcome, though in the winds that followed overnight we managed to lose touch with Mission Performance and Unicef which both appear much further north today. This morning sees less wind once again, though we have a sea state that hints at there being something further north so we are carefully edging that way in order to find it.”

Visit Seattle has since picked up speed, and when last polled was traveling at 9.1 knots, allowing it overtake Mission Performance which has only managed to cover 28nM in the last twelve hours of racing.

Which team will be first through the Scoring Gate and can the teams further back make up ground while the leaders divert for the bonus points? To follow all the action, see the Race Viewer here.

Click here to see the schedule of events planned for the Da Nang stopover.

*All positons correct as of 1100 UTC.

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