The chase is on in the Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race, with the Scoring Gate behind them, the next big focus for the teams is crossing the Equator and getting themselves positioned to pick up the Trade Winds, which will ease their journey past the Philippines and propel them towards the race finish, some 3000 nautical miles away.

Having been among the first of the fleet to clear the Doldrums, GREAT Britain, Derry~Londonderry~Doire, Qingdao and LMAX Exchange, all charged for the Scoring Gate yesterday, each vying for the bonus points on offer.

It was GREAT Britain that made it through the gate first at 1642 UTC but with Derry~Londonderry~Doire and Qingdao hot on its trail, Skipper Peter Thornton says the team worked relentlessly to maintain the lead: “Conditions were in and out of torrential down pours and simply general rain and spray as we started to make ground to the north. Then another big wind increase and shift forced our hand to tack.

“Down to Yankee 2 and a reef, which soon became two reefs into the night as we made course to the east of Bitkangkunmale Island. This was not ideal as we had to bear away, choose a safe distance and hope that we would be able to harden up on the other side to make the all-important Scoring Gate. All the while not knowing how well Derry~Londonderry~Doire, Qingdao and LMAX Exchange were doing with potentially better wind angles.

“The shifty winds meant that the gate was just too far west for us to make it in one tack. Another nervous moment when we found ourselves pinching too much so threw a couple of tacks in to make the longitude required. Then it was a case of waiting for the next schedule to plot the other guys and hope that they had not been able to find more speed. I was hopeful but you can never be sure until the ruling is in.”

Pending verification by the Race Office upon arrival into Vietnam, GREAT Britain will be awarded the maximum three points, Derry~Londonderry~Doire will receive two points for crossing in second place at 1740 UTC and Qingdao earns the remaining points for being third at 1901 UTC.

Those three remain the most northerly teams in the fleet, although being furthest east of the rhumb line, Qingdao is showing in tenth place because of its distance to finish.* Da Nang – Viet Nam is in fourth with ClipperTelemed+ rising through the standings to fifth place. Skipper Matt Mitchell says: “We are very much in touch with the front four and we have pressure coming from the boats behind, so we are working hard to make sure we defend our position on the water as well as trying to make ground on the boats in front.

“The aim of the game now is to get as far north as quickly as we can in order to pick up the north easterly Trade Winds up there, meaning a much speedier passage to the top of the Philippines than the more direct course. Morale is high on board and we are working the boat hard, the last few schedules have been positive for us which always gives the crew a boost, as well as being able to see a few of the other yachts around on the horizon to pit ourselves against.”

With the front ten boats spread over a 40nM radius, frustrations continue for Visit Seattle and Mission Performance in eleventh and twelfth place, as they are still stuck in the Doldrums off New Ireland (Papua New Guinea), and now almost 100 nautical miles behind the rest of the pack. However, the pair have picked up speed and if the band of light wind forecast up ahead causes the rest of the fleet to slow down and concertina, it could allow the back two boats to narrow the distance.

In a few hours the teams will begin to cross the Equator and pay homage to King Neptune. Stay tuned to find out how they celebrate the transformation from Pollywog to Shellback and keep an eye on the Race Viewer for the latest race standings.

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

*All positons correct as of 1000 UTC.

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