Race 8 Day 1: ‘Tam biet’ as Clipper Race fleet heads north-east for Qingdao

28 February 2016

Following a spectacular departure ceremony in Da Nang yesterday, and a dramatic seascape start off the Vinpearl Beach Resort, Race 8 is on and the teams are focussed on The Sailing City • Qingdao Cup.

As the search for sea legs is having mixed success among the crew, the beat into the wind is well and truly on as the fleet heads north east towards Taiwan.Today’s skipper reports reflect the mixed emotions of leaving Da Nang and Vietnam behind to return to the race and the push for points in the second half of the global series.

Mission Performance was holding a very tight lead with the shortest distance to finish, sitting closer to the rhum line, but Derry~Londondery~Doire has just retaken the lead by 0.2 nautical miles at 0800 UTC.

Skipper Dan Smith reported: “After hoisting our main…we raced around the inshore course in gusty conditions and then pointed our bows towards the south of Taiwan. So far the weather has been good with the sun shining on us and the wind being from such an angle that we are making good speed towards our waypoint. We are under no illusions though, we are ready for higher winds, short steep waves and uncomfortable sailing. Let’s hope it doesn't happen.”

Da Nang – Viet Nam Skipper Wendy Tuck summed up feelings for the stopover with a big thankyou, saying: “How do I begin to say thank you to the city and people of Da Nang. From the most amazing arrival, to the fabulous send off. The whole experience has been incredible.

“I was lucky enough to experience the culture, fantastic food, and staying in the beautiful Grand Tourane Hotel, watch the sun come up over the white sandy beach every day, the only thing I didn’t get to do was get a surf in so maybe next time.

“The night parade up to the Dragon Bridge will be something that stays with me forever, the crowds, apparently 15 deep along the foreshore, were incredible to see and hear. Da Nang you are truly a fantastic city! …Tam biet (goodbye).”

Clearly looking forward to Qingdao, Mission Performance Skipper Greg Miller said: “The race start was a short triangular course followed by the route to Qingdao, China some 1700 nautical miles away to the north. Up where the air is cold and the snow threatens to cover the decks! Putting the temperature to one side for now, historically the Qingdao stopover has been one of the highlights of the Clipper Race and the Mission Performance Warriors are very much looking forward to it!”

Current overall standings leader by six points over GREAT Britain is LMAX Exchange. After a slightly delayed departure to complete the reinstallation of a repaired rudder, the team made the start line and crossed second, soon to take the lead round the cans, chased by GREAT Britain.

LMAX Exchange is currently sitting in sixth place, but less than four miles difference in the distance to finish to the leader. Skipper Olivier Cardin reported: “During the night, wind was shifty and lighter. With our Yankee 3 it was difficult to have the same speed as the other boats but as we expected more wind after, I delayed the sail change. Finally, we changed for a bigger one before daylight. Now speed is very good, we are catching up. So we are happy as this upwind session will continue for the next few days.”

Unicef had a challenging start when it lost its mainsail when the halyard failed. As we write today’s update it has been hove-to in order to re-run their main halyard through the mast. All is well on board and their more northerly course is part of their race strategy.

Unicef hopes to put the frustrating start behind it and have the main hoisted again shortly, as Skipper Paul Atwood writes: “The halyard knot had failed and the line had parted right at the point where the halyard exits the turns of the knot. We managed to limp around the race start triangular course before getting Mr Fixit, round the worlder Henry Dale, into the harness and up the rig.

“Despite all our best efforts however, the mousing line kept getting stuck in the mast and so we couldn't re-run the main halyard. Plan B came into play so we have spent the night running with the topping lift doing standby work as our main halyard. We are about to have another mast climb and attempt to get the main halyard back into place.”

And so The Sailing City • Qingdao Cup is well underway. As Qingdao skipper Bob Beggs noted: “The city of Qingdao, our home port, is beckoning and the race is on. The Qingdao crew are excited and looking forward to our arrival and what awaits us.”

All positions correct as at 0800 UTC.

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