​Race 9 Day 15: Fast boat speeds with strong wind on the beam

04 April 2016

Strong squalls have kept the teams busy in the cold temperatures as they change sail plans often to deal with the range of wind speeds. The wind has ranged between 10 and 30 knots, with powerful squalls delivering 40 knot gusts, so the teams have been reefing and then shaking out reefs regularly.

Thankfully, the wind has been from a good direction on the beam, providing exhilarating surfing conditions and high boat speeds at around the halfway stage of the Seattle Pacific Challenge.

Yesterday, LMAX Exchange, GREAT Britain and Garmin crossed the Scoring Gate first, second and third respectively, earning three, two and one points each, after GREAT Britain emerged from Stealth Mode, shedding its dark cloak and revealing its position.*

The last few days the weather – although gusty - has seen winds from a good direction ranging between 20 to 45 knots.

Derry~Londonderry~Doire is still at the head of the fleet, with Unicef in second, 59 nautical miles behind, and ClipperTelemed+ in third position, 64 nautical miles behind the leader.

Matt Mitchell, Skipper of ClipperTelemed+, said it had been a wild 24 hours with moderate to strong wind on the beam, big breaking waves and sleigh ride boat speeds.

“We are really making the most of the weather and are hitting great 6 hourly runs of 70 miles or more. Every half an hour or so powerful squalls pulse through giving us 40 knot gusts.

“Let’s just say the traveller has smoke coming off it it's being worked so hard. The guys are doing a great job on the whole and we are trying to get as many miles tucked away as we can. In another 6 hours or so we will be down to just 2,500 miles to go, which if we can maintain similar speeds that we are now is only nine days sailing. Unlikely, but a good target to aim for none the less.

"Go Telemed+ Go,” Matt added.

Huw Fernie, Skipper of Visit Seattle, racing to its home port, said his team were strong, despite being cold and wet a lot of the time. “This afternoon for us sees another increase in wind and also a shift in direction so we are finally going fast downwind, life is a little easier temporarily. But we are rushing to outrun a chasing light winds patch, so there is still no rest.

“It's hard to know when exactly we will be halfway, the mileage since leaving Qingdao is impressive and the distance to go shrinking. As always our route to Seattle will not be a straight line, so we still have a way to go,” Huw added.

With around 2,500 nautical miles to go in the Seattle Pacific Challenge, the next significant milestone for the fleet will be the International Date Line, which the teams will start crossing in less than 24 hours’ time based on current speeds.

Garmin Skipper Ash Skett commented: “Once there, we will get to live the same day twice. This, coupled with the leap year, means that I imagine 2016 will be the longest year of our lives!”

Read more about Groundhog Day and crossing the International Date Line tomorrow.

*Scoring Gate declarations subject to ratification by the Race Office upon the teams’ arrival into Seattle.

**All positions correct as of 0900 UTC

For the latest positions, see the Race Viewer here.

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