The leading Clipper Race teams have entered into what could be their final full day of the epic 5,600nm marathon across the North Pacific Ocean to Seattle, USA. But with a wind hole between them and the Finish Line, the end of Race 9: The Race to the Emerald City isn’t going to be simple.

After popping out of Stealth Mode yesterday, Qingdao remains in the lead for a seventh consecutive day, though Sanya Serenity Coast and Unicef are close behind in second and third. Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “We are still on track to Seattle and we made good progress over the past 24 hours. The breeze is softening though and the feared wind hole in front of the finish line seems to come closer and closer.

“But the mood on board is good and the motivation high to defend our current position.”

IMAGES: All positions correct at time of publishing.

Sanya Serenity Coast managed to keep in check of Qingdao throughout the 48 hours of Stealth Mode, with the gap between first and second now just 20nm. Skipper Wendy Tuck says: “This last 200nm is not going to be a walk in the park. Just to keep us on our toes, there is a lovely big light patch caused by a nice-looking high coming from the land. We also have a ridge following the last low that wants to catch up to us and swallow us in a wind hole. It would be nice if it was just straight forward for once, but then, what’s the fun in that hey?”

Just 40nm astern of the lead, Unicef is also making good progress, though Skipper Bob Beggs is wary of the wind hole ahead, commenting: “The forecast promises good and reasonable wind overnight but a looming wind hole is due to drop on us about 60 nautical miles from the finish just to mix things up. The next weather forecast is due in a few hours and I look forward to seeing some change in the prognosis.”

The trio in front can’t afford to make any mistakes, with both HotelPlanner.com and PSP Logistics pushing hard in fourth and fifth respectively. The pair have had each other in sight on AIS for the past 24 hours and PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell is also eyeing off the teams around 100nm ahead, saying: “Running some simulations on the Nav PC has suggested our finish time to be only an hour after a couple of the leaders so this race could take an interesting turn right at the end.”

IMAGE: Marek Omilian and Shannon Dean at the helm of Visit Seattle.

Four teams, Dare To Lead, Liverpool 2018, Nasdaq, and Visit Seattle remain in Stealth Mode. After 26 days at sea, thoughts are starting to turn towards the pleasures of port, with Visit Seattle Skipper Nikki Henderson commenting: “Ah Seattle, you are going to be SO popular.”

Meanwhile, GREAT Britain is due to finish it’s Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint today. Once GREAT Britain crosses the eastern gate, the Clipper Race Office will determine which teams were the fastest and will be awarding the precious three, two and one bonus points. Watch the Clipper Race website and social channels for the announcement.

To follow the fleet’s progress to the finish and Seattle, keep an eye on the Clipper Race Viewer. You can also read the Skipper Blogs in full in the Team Pages section of the website or find out the latest from the crew in the Crew Diaries.

The latest Estimated Arrival Times into Seattle can also be found on the Clipper Race Website. The fleet was originally expected to finish the 5,600nm Race 9: The Race to the Emerald City from Qingdao to Seattle and arrive into Bell Harbor Marina between Saturday 14 and Thursday 19 of April, but conditions in the early part of the race means the boats are now expected between Thursday 19 and Saturday 21 April.

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