​Skipper thoughts ahead of Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race

04 January 2018

As each of the eleven Clipper Race teams make final preparations ahead of the third and final stage of Leg 4, The All-Australian Leg, Skippers have taken a moment to reflect on the next race and the gruelling upwind conditions that are forecasted to dominate the start.

Hoping to replicate the team’s winning result from Race 5, HotelPlanner.com Skipper Conall Morrison says: “Getting one podium definitely makes you want another so we will be pushing hard.

“The team is feeling very positive. Tough upwind conditions are expected, but we’re prepared for it and we will be making sure that people are getting rest and will be able to make the best decisions when they are on deck.”

However, Wendy Tuck and her team on board Sanya Serenity Coast, which won Race 4 and claimed line honours during Race 5, have been performing consistently well in the Skipper’s home waters and will be embracing the upwind conditions. Wendy explains: “The crew is excited to go into Race 6. It does help to have a good result, and then have a good result that could have been better because it makes them all work even harder.

“Fortunately, the team is really good at upwind sailing. The boat sails really well upwind, too. We look forward to upwind conditions because we normally do well. Even though its cold, wet and uncomfortable, we normally do well in it.”

However, Wendy isn’t the only Skipper with local knowledge of the Whitsundays. Garmin Skipper Gaëtan Thomas, who declared the use of Garmin’s Joker Card yesterday, has sailed much of the Whitsundays solo and also completed his RYA Yachtmaster Offshore qualification in the area. Speaking ahead of the race he says: “We played our Joker Card because it’s a short race, we’ve got the same team as the previous two races so we are working well together and because I also have some local knowledge in the Whitsundays. We felt it was the right time.”

Speaking fondly of his memories of the Whitsundays, he adds: “It is a little bit like a homecoming port for me. I am really looking forward to that. I have been waiting eight years to come back to the Whitsundays so bring it on!”

Nasdaq narrowly missed out on its first podium place on Race 5 following HotelPlanner.com’s redress but Skipper Rob Graham reports that it has given the team a real boost: “I am really pleased with how we finished the Sydney Hobart and we are going to use that as a springboard for better things to come.”

With tough conditions reported, some of the Clipper Race Skippers are thinking about boat performance for the first part of the race. Lance Shepherd, Skipper of Liverpool 2018, says: “It will be quite punishing; the boat will slam quite a lot and it will wear the crew out quite a bit. It will be quite a tactical race, I think.”

Matt Mitchell, Skipper of PSP Logistics, echoes Lance’s thoughts: “It looks like it will a pretty tough race as its mostly upwind so it’s going to be pretty hard on the crew but we should get there in ten days or so.”

Dare To Lead Skipper Dale Smyth adds: “Sailing upwind on the Clipper 70s is always tough and quite physically demanding on crew so we will be hoping that we do get some downwind sailing too.”

Elsewhere, Visit Seattle Skipper Nikki Henderson, GREAT Britain Skipper Andy Burns and Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch take a moment to reflect on team dynamics during a tough upwind race. Nikki explains: “We are about to sail the same stretch that we have sailed twice previously. It was good to have a close race with Wendo (Sanya Serenity Coast) and Chris (Qingdao) the first time we sailed it, but the reality is that we have all now sailed that stretch of water so we are on the same level really.

“The crew definitely prefer downwind sailing so I will be looking for things to keep morale up!”

Andy Burns says: “We’ve got a really strong crew, I am really pleased with how they have developed together over the last two races. We are probably not one of the strongest upwind teams but it all depends on conditions at the time.”

Chris Kobusch adds: “It is going to be interesting. We have always done better in downwind or reaching conditions, upwind is the least favourite for the team. Hopefully we can keep upwind and not let them get away. The team is hungry for success and will be chasing Sanya Serenity Coast to get first place!”

Unicef Skipper Bob Beggs is looking forward to getting stuck into a race he describes as exciting, interesting and tactical. He says: “The boats are identical so there isn’t a great gain to be made unless you make a bold tactical move and get different breeze. The crews are all very good by now and the Skippers are of a similar nature and it is just great, close racing at the moment which is fantastic.

“Having the same crew for the third consecutive race means that we have all the drills in place and the bond on Unicef is now very strong. It is crucial at this stage that we have that.

“It’s exciting, it’s fun and I am sure that positions will change on a regular basis.”

Follow the Clipper Race: LIVE Facebook page to see the teams off the dock for the race re-start on Friday 5 January 2018 at 0800 local time UTC+11 (2100 UTC) before the race starts at 1100 local time (0000 UTC).

Wishing you could be out on the start line in Hobart, too? Well now you can, virtually, from the comfort of your own armchair; in fact, wherever you are with an internet link, via laptop, tablet or mobile.

The Clipper Race has teamed up once again with the world’s leading and most experienced team of digital yacht racing game experts at Virtual Regatta and after a competitive Race 5, the virtual ocean racing platform is once again ready for the start of Race 6. Full details of all the features and how to play are available in the game website.

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