Following the Le Mans start from Qingdao in light winds and sun at 0100 UTC, 0900 local time today, the Clipper Race fleet is now headed in a south easterly direction under lightweight spinnakers.

On day 1 of the Seattle Pacific Challenge, the easing light winds should last for around 24 hours, before a stronger northerly wind comes back, and the strongest band should be on the east side of the Yellow Sea, where the fleet is, with gusts up to 35 knots.

In today’s reports, the Skippers reflect on the incredible hospitality of Qingdao during the stopover, and also on the mammoth 5, 768 nautical mile challenge ahead in the race to Seattle, USA.

Garmin is currently leading the fleet with Da Nang- Viet Nam in second place and Derry~Londonderry~Doire in third, although only 9 nautical miles separates first position from twelfth. The boats are making between 5 and 6 knots.

Garmin Skipper Ash Skett describes the first eight hours at sea: “We glide along under lightweight spinnaker in a perfectly flat sea under clear blue skies. The 'Le Mans' start offshore went very smoothly and we were the first boat to get the spinnaker up after the 10 minutes of the enforced post-start sail plan had elapsed.

“We decided to head fairly deep in search of more wind and ourselves, LMAX Exchange and Derry~Londonderry~Doire and Unicef have formed a westerly group.

“With the boats to the north of us going in a more direct line, it will be interesting to see which group comes out on top when we make it to the next waypoint on the southern peninsular of the Japanese mainland.

“Due to the distance we have to sail, this race is sure to also test our endurance and commitment, but I have great confidence in this team and I know we are capable of finishing up in a winning position,” Ash added.

Darren Ladd, Skipper of IchorCoal, in tenth, was also in pensive mood in his report today about the task ahead. “In terms of our circumnavigation this is the one I've been looking forward the most. A quick look at a globe will give you an idea of the size of the undertaking.

“It's really big, and blue, and often referred to as the really big blue one, which I've always thought was both catchy, and cunningly descriptive,” he added.

*All positions correct as of 0900UTC.

To follow all the action, see the Race Viewer here.

To find out more about the stopover in Seattle, click here.

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