Race 9 Day 23: Unicef sets Ocean Sprint time to beat in dramatic day

12 April 2016

With four teams having completed the Ocean Sprint, it is Unicef which has recorded the fastest time so far in a day of high winds and strong seas which proved costly to some of the yachts. None more so than Da Nang – Viet Nam which suffered a knock-down after being hit by a large wave, and has taken the decision to retire from racing and make best speed towards Seattle.

All on board are reported safe, though due to some minor injuries and equipment damage the team is keen to get ashore where the repair work can begin in earnest.

The crew were amazing, everyone jumped to the tasks needed to get Da Nang – Viet Nam back to her stately self,” explains Skipper Wendy Tuck in her 0600 daily blog. “We have lost our port helm station, so everything will have to happen from our starboard one now. We have also dropped our mainsail, it was at first just to slow the boat down whilst we assessed the damage done and to get the steering back under control. We won’t be able to use our main as we have damage to a couple of fittings and the main winch and the grinder needs some TLC before we could use them.

“It will now become one of those stories, you know ‘so where you when the wave hit and what happened to you?’ We are okay, chocolate cake even got baked this afternoon.”

With 1140 nautical miles to the Seattle Pacific Challenge finish line, Da Nang – Viet Nam is now motor-sailing but will hoist sails again when it is quicker to do so.

Almost 190 nautical miles ahead of the Vietnamese entry is Visit Seattle, and Skipper Huw Fernie and his crew are counting down the miles to their ‘home’ port.

“We too have crossed that special 1000 miles to go mark; it's always nice to get into the last stages of such a long crossing. The next significant mileage is 650 – just a Sydney-Hobart or Fastnet race, depending on where you live.

“It's been strange to realise that 10 knots seems slow. The reason is that we are now so used to surfing on the large swell out here so anything below 20 rarely gets a mention and all we are really interested in is 30+ knots. I had a drive earlier and got something in the 20s, but it doesn't matter, it wasn't a 30!”

At the front of the fleet leader Derry~Londonderry~Doire has put on its invisibility cloak as Skipper Daniel Smith and his team seek to maintain their 100+ nautical mile lead in the closing stages of Race 9.

“Our second sprint began immediately after the Ocean Sprint finished. It is the final sprint of the race, the sprint to the finish. By now you'll see that we have entered Stealth Mode, this is to cover our track as we work our way inshore amongst the weather that is affected by the land. As I write this we have 350 nautical miles to go and are keeping our fingers crossed that the breeze holds and takes us all the way in,” Daniel reported.

With Derry~Londonderry~Doire, LMAX Exchange and Unicef all through the Ocean Sprint, it is the latter which holds the fastest speed with a time of 20 hours and 40 minutes. GREAT Britain completed the course a couple of hours after Unicef, but recorded an elapsed time that was five minutes slower than Skipper Martin Clough and his crew.

Can anyone else beat Unicef’s time for the coveted two bonus points? Or will Unicef pick up its first Ocean Sprint title of the Clipper 2015-16 Race?

Stay tuned to the Race Viewer to follow all the action.

For further details on the Da Nang – Viet Nam knockdown, clickhere.

To find out more about the stopover in Seattle where the fleet will be berthed at the Port of Seattle’s Bell Harbor, clickhere.

All positions correct as of 0900 UTC.

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