​Race 7 Day 9: Teams adjust to life at an angle as winds strengthen

28 January 2016

The Clipper Race crew is getting used to life at an angle again as steady winds and mixed weather fronts keep the teams on their toes with the need for constant sail changes in the Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race. Squalls too small to show on the GRIB (weather) files continue to surprise, but with the sweltering dead heat of the Doldrums still fresh in the memory, they also bring a welcome relief with cooler temperatures and some rain.

Qingdao, still in third place behind GREAT Britain, has made the best progress over the last twelve hours along with race leader Derry~Londonderry~Doire, by covering 124 nautical miles. Commenting on the conditions the fleet currently face, Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell says: “A new low seems to be developing just north-east of most of the fleet and should start to move to the west/west-north-west over the next 24 hours, with local developments almost certainly overtaking any detail the GRIBs offer, at least until the low has developed properly.

“The circulatory winds don’t seem that strong, but there will undoubtedly be strong squally parts of it too small to show on the forecast but easily big enough to affect the boats.”

Fifth placed Garmin sandwiched between ClipperTelemed+, less than 1nM ahead, and LMAX Exchange, is enjoying the fast speeds, even if it does involve beating into headwinds at times, as Skipper Ashley Skett explains: “The long awaited wind shift finally came yesterday, just minutes after I sent off the blog in which I moaned about it not happening. We promptly tacked on it and finally hit our course as the wind continued to veer around to the north-east, eventually giving us a nice power-reach at 12 knots boat speed.

“Today we have been headed slightly and again find ourselves fairly hard on the wind as we try to make a course that will get us around the next obstacle; a weak, newly forming low pressure system to the west. There are lots of these dotted around here, most of them don't seem to develop at all and fizzle out without causing too much drama. However the one ahead looks like it may pack a bit of a punch so we want to make sure that we are in the right place at the right time when it passes over us.”

The inclement weather has been too much for King Neptune who has yet to make an appearance on some of the boats since the teams crossed the Equator, leaving the Pollywogs on ClipperTelemed+ and Derry~Londonderry~Doire patiently waiting to become fully-fledged Shellbacks (the term given to sailors who have crossed the Equator by sea). IchorCoal Skipper Darren Ladd has challenges of his own in these conditions, as he explains how tricky it can be to carry out the most simple of tasks.

“The wind is out of the north-north-east and IchorCoal is pounding to windward at a steady 10 knots. The crew of the good ship IchorCoal is leaning into the healing deck, hanging on for dear life and generally clinging to anything strong enough to bear their weight. The light and fluky winds of several days ago are already forgotten, the destination now the only focus.

“The vessel icon on the plotter is moving slowly up the go-to line, visually marking our progress and for once the Velocity Made Good (VMG) figures are matching those of the Speed Over Ground (SOG). I am currently doing my daily bout of nav station aerobics. This basically means propping yourself up via a conveniently strong wall fixing, sitting astride the seat edge - more or less side-saddle style - hanging on to the barometer in one hand and trying to type, mouse and scratch with the other.”

As the teams continue to race towards Da Nang, Vietnam follow all the action on the Race Viewer here.

To find out more about King Neptune and the Equator crossing ceremony, click here.

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

*Positions correct at 1000 UTC.

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