Race 9 Day 8: “We have seen it all weather wise the last 24 hours”

28 March 2016

It has been another 24 hours of frustrating weather, with wind coming from all directions on the compass due to the low pressure that has formed over a small area in the North Pacific Ocean.

This has meant that the teams have sailed in all parts of the low, meaning many sail changes between white sails and spinnakers and the windseeker.

Boat speeds are low and progress slow, on day 8 of the Seattle Pacific Challenge.

The top half of the fleet is extremely tightly bunched together, with just 6.1 nautical miles separating the first five yachts. Unicef is still leading the fleet, with GREAT Britain in second now and Derry~Londonderry~Doire in third.

Garmin, the former race leader, has dropped down from second place yesterday into fifth after an unfortunate incident which resulted in it losing its bowsprit.

Matt Mitchell, Skipper of ClipperTelemed+, in fourth place, described the last 24 hours, which included a welcome wildlife surprise.

“The last 24 hours has seen it all weather wise, from fast downwind sailing with spinnaker, to power reaching with our white sails, to drifting with windseeker. It's been a busy time for us on board.

“Now we are sailing with the latter, trying to keep the boat going in a light breeze and a bit of a sloppy sea. It makes for tricky helming and trimming, especially as we are in close proximity to Derry~Londonderry~Doire, GREAT Britain, Garmin, and Unicef.

“We have just seen a very strange phenomenon with literally hundreds of dolphins storming towards us, all jumping every few seconds. It really was a spectacle and you could hear them coming before seeing them. It was a positive stampede of dolphins and I have never seen the like on such scale before,” Matt added.

Wendy Tuck, Skipper of Da Nang - Viet Nam, in ninth place, spoke about the difficulties of reading the weather forecast in this unusual situation of the low developing right above the teams in her report today.

“We have been sailing through a range of conditions. We have taken the sail plan of erring on the side of caution, as the GRIB weather files have not been that accurate due to lows developing, we have been underpowered a couple of times, hence our fall from grace position wise,” Wendy said.

Simon Rowell, the Clipper Race’s Meteorologist, said in his weather briefing to the Skippers today: “As the low moves east, you should see the wind building and going towards the north as the centre gets further east of you. Your weather observations all show somewhere between west and north, indicating that the low’s getting further east. It’s not often that you get to see a low develop pretty much overhead, so you and your crews are actually very lucky to get this. I will understand if you don’t entirely share my enthusiasm.

“As the low does go east, it will probably be followed by another ridge of high pressure, and then in about three days’ time the next significant low leaves Japan. This doesn’t look as if it’ll be quite as big as the monster that’s still out east now, but it should still extend right across the race course,” Simon 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 where the fleet will be berthed at the Port of Seattle’s Bell Harbour, click here.

To read the Crew Diaries, click here.

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