After a truly awesome stopover in the US capital, attention has turned to the final stages of the Clipper Race, and the imminent Race 13 across the North Atlantic to Oban. Now over ten months into the global circumnavigation, the race has reached a pivotal point, as teams are about to tick off the final ocean crossing: the North Atlantic. It’s the home stretch, but it’s all to play for with fierce competition at the top of the leader board.

The route from Washington, DC to Oban in Scotland is around 3,300 nautical miles across the North Atlantic, and crew can expect to spend 16-21 days at sea, before arriving in Scotland for the first time in Clipper Race history.

Despite this being the final long passage of the circumnavigation, the leader board is competitive, and the Atlantic can still be a highly challenging crossing. Deputy Race Director, Dale Smyth said: “So as much as we are nearing the end of a massive marathon around the globe, we’ve still got the Atlantic to cross and for many yachtsmen, crossing the Atlantic is a massive achievement in itself. It really is now the time for teams to focus on pushing hard but staying safe.

“Those that have circumnavigated the globe will be feeling like this is the final stretch to get into home waters, but it’s important for them to not forget that it is still a huge challenge to cross the North Atlantic.”

He continues: “We’ve had to put in an ice limit to keep the fleet away from icebergs, and the North Atlantic is notorious for bad weather at any time of the year. Now is not the time for any team to drop their guard as it is still a very tough ocean crossing ahead and we will see some amazingly competitive racing.”

The Clipper Race leader board is tantalisingly close, with five teams jostling for the top podium spots it really is all to play for. Especially as four teams will be playing their Jokers: Perseverance and Zhuhai, that are currently 2nd and 3rd in the rankings respectively, as well as Qingdao and Bekezela. With the ability to double any racing points, it’s no surprise that the final four teams yet to play a Joker have opted to use this tactic on the final ocean crossing.

Image: The leader board standings for the top five teams at the start of Race 13

Dale continues, “As always with the Clipper Race, it’s super exciting for the viewers. There’s a lot of tough competition going on at the top of the leader board. It’s all to go for at the moment and we really feel at this stage it’s going to be down to the wire in Portsmouth.”

With such a battle for spots at the top of the leader board, teams on Race 13 will be looking to scoop up extra points wherever possible. The Scoring Gate and Ocean Sprint, which can offer up to three additional points each, will play a key role in teams’ tactics in this race. The Scoring Gate, which is 30 miles wide and positioned approximately halfway across the race route between DC and Oban is placed at roughly 60 miles southeast of the great circle.

The Ocean Sprint is much further into the race and offers around 250 miles of sailing that teams will be trying to sail across as quickly as possible to scoop up some coveted extra points to add to the tally.

In terms of weather conditions, the North Atlantic can offer a mixed bag, and large storms are not uncommon year-round. However, it looks like teams are in for a fast race on this upcoming Race 13 with some favourable breezes.

Image: Current weather forecast predictions

Dale explains: “The first couple of days are looking really good for the fleet, with a solid south westerly breeze. Then towards the weekend, things become slightly more complicated with a trough developing and that’s coming from a low pressure forming to the north of the fleet, so they are going to have some tricky sailing.

“But the overall conditions for the rest of the race look fairly fast and consistent with a good south westerly breeze. One of the things that will be really key for the fleet is the Gulf Stream, that flows up along the east coast and across the North Atlantic, running at times up to 3 knots which could really give teams a boost.

“As the teams get closer to Scotland, one of the big features there will be the large tidal streams along the coast of the UK so this will be really tactical for the fleet to play those tides correctly.”

On 25 June, all eleven teams waved goodbye to The Wharf and began the motor up the Potomac River, accompanied by fireworks as they transited the iconic Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge. Teams are currently enroute to the Le Mans start area, which is located 15 miles offshore and due east from the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. All eleven yachts will rendezvous here ready to start racing at 10:00 local time on 27 June.

Philip Quinn, the Skipper of CV27 Qingdao will be the lead the Le Mans start and is responsible for co-ordinating the start of Race 13.

The Le Mans start order will be:

Follow the action of Race 13: Oban’s Atlantic Homecoming on the Race Viewer.

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