Whilst in Panama for the canal transit the Clipper Race’s professional sailing staff, made up of Race Skippers and AQPs, looked ahead to Race 12: Come Sea DC Cup and all that is to come from this second stage of Leg 7.

Race 12 may be relatively short in comparison to many of the stages in the circumnavigation. At 1,560nm, the teams will be racing for between 10-12 days, but this challenge has a lot to offer. From the sailing itself, to being back in the Atlantic Ocean, to visiting Washington, DC for the first time. The conclusion of Leg 7 will certainly be interesting and have everyone on board excited and those following from home glued to the Race Viewer.

Hannah Brewis, Skipper, Washington, DC
“We have been waiting for what must be almost a year for this race. We’re trying to take it all in and absorb the fun we are about to have.

“Having seen other boats going into their home port, of course it adds extra pressure, which is only natural. I have doubled it by also playing the Joker, it's a lot but it's not going to happen again. This is such an amazing feeling, it's exciting, it’s new, and there is pressure but that is what is going to make it more rewarding.

“We have talked a lot about going to Washington, DC. We have been representing DC all the way round the world, so to finally be coming into our home port is exciting. This is our moment and it makes us feel quite proud.

“The arrival is going to be tricky navigationally, but we will be right in the centre of the city, in The Wharf and I hope we will see all the things DC is famous for.

Talking tactics for the upcoming race, Hannah added: “We have to motor for a bit to the starting area to find some decent breeze. The first part is a sprint to the Caribbean Islands, and the wind looks pretty good now. It can historically be a bit more upwind, but actually the weather is looking more beamy. Then you go through the Windward Passage, light variable winds, currents, a big part of the race results might be defined there. Then we will pop out of the Caribbean islands, through some gates, then the section up to DC with the Ocean Sprint and Scoring Gate. Relatively short one, 10-12 days of racing, it's going to be good.

Ella Hebron, AQP, Washington, DC
“The whole crew is really excited. It almost feels like we have turned a corner, back in the Atlantic; feels like home waters.”

Image: Washington, DC

Tom Newsom, AQP, Our Isles and Oceans
“Race 12 is about 1,500nm from Panama to DC, and it's a race of two halves. You have got the upwind section traditionally at the start; trade wind, squally, Caribbean seas, which will be great because in Race 11 we ended with very little wind at all. Then we go between Haiti and Cuba, this can be very variable, very light. If you can get through that gap then you are away. In the last section of the race, you have the option to go to the Gulf Stream or you can go further offshore and have a better attacking angle into Chesapeake Bay, which is a fantastic place to sail in the US.

“It's tricky to keep the round the worlders motivated, they have seen some rough seas in the Southern Ocean and North Pacific and they’ve been at sea for nearly 10 months. They are becoming far better teachers and leaders, we are rotating our watch leaders and what is really important is the enthusiasm of our new leggers as this gets absorbed by the others on board.”

Max Rivers, Skipper, Our Isles and Oceans
“We are about to leave Panama for Race 12: Come Sea DC Cup, all the way up to Washington, DC. I’m very excited, it is going to be a very interesting passage, up through the Caribbean, east coast US into Chesapeake Bay, Potomac river and up to Washington, DC.

“The crew are excited to be back sailing in the Atlantic, almost feeling like the home stretch, starting to be back sailing familiar waters. We are just really looking forward to this last stretch of Leg 7.

“Another victory for us would be exceptional, I just want to make sure we are placing highly. We are in the mid-fleet section, Yacht Club Punta del Este hot on our heels and UNICEF just ahead of us on the overall leaderboard, making sure we don’t get overtaken whilst also pushing to move up ourselves.”

Image: Our Isles and Oceans

David Hartshorn, Skipper, Bekezela
“We are about to start Race 12, an interesting race, from here in Panama up to the Caribbean, through the islands and into the Atlantic proper, then up to the Finish Line just off the US Coast.

“You have got to get first into the Atlantic properly. I think it's a race to the Caribbean, those boats that have done well through the Caribbean and out of the Windward Passage will be in the leading group at the finish. So it's all about that first effort.

“It's looking like it could be quite a quick race into the Caribbean, looking at light winds, but on the nose, which is good for light winds sailing as you get the apparent wind, and then once we get out into the Atlantic looks like we will be reaching again. I think this could be quite a quick race, but the first few days will be critical.

“Although there is a long way to go and there is a lot of things still to play out, having trod this path before, time will just accelerate.”

Maisie Bristow, AQP, Bekezela
“It’s a motor to the Le Mans Start, and then we will sail up to DC. It's going to probably be quite a bit of upwind, tacking through the islands.

“We are all really looking forward to it, I have never been to Washington, and quite a lot of people haven’t, which is a real attraction to this race, it's the first time the Clipper Race has been.

“The team remains really motivated, we continue to look at development of skills, which is nice to have that focus still and have that drive to get better.”

Image: Bekezela

Charlie Warhurst, AQP, Dare To Lead
“This race should be good fun. The weather is looking quite favourable at the start with some good high-pressure building to send us through the Caribbean Islands. If not, there could be some wind holes, unfortunately. Then after that we get some good current, so we should be relatively quick.

“Consistency and not making mistakes is key, which I know we say every race, but if you drop back on this one, you are going to drop back and it will be hard to pick up again as it was a short race.”

On visiting Washington, DC, Charlie added: “I’m really looking forward to Washington, DC. It’s a cool historical place, with museums which I am looking forward to visiting. And just the welcome! There’s a lot of hype. You see the home port welcomes so it’ll be exciting to see what DC put on.

And on being back in the Atlantic, Charlie concluded: “It’s bittersweet. Being closer to home and back in our home ocean is nice, but I could quite happily sail for quite a bit longer!”

Ryan Gibson, Skipper, Dare To Lead
“The conditions look really good at the moment. There’s currently some east and Caribbean trade winds, and then it’ll be a little bit light just past Turks and Caicos but once we are past Jamaica it looks like there will be a bit of high pressure, so a bit of downwind sailing which is always nice. So it looks really light but quite good, so I think it will be quite fun Caribbean trade wind sailing.”

As competition for the overall podium spots heats up, Ryan adds: “Currently being fourth on the standings is still really good, and is within our goal that we set out in the beginning. But a lot to lose and a lot to gain! So these last three races are going to be really important. Each one counts differently, and all the bonus points, as they always do every race.”

On what he’s looking forward to on the stopover to come, Ryan said: “I think seeing the White House. It’s quite a famous place and something I have always wanted to see. I look forward to having a look around. It’ll be a nice place to do some sightseeing.”

Image: Dare To Lead

Nano Antia Bernardez, Skipper, Yacht Club Punta del Este
Straight into the tactics, Nano said: “Well, Race 12 is very interesting because there is decent wind in the Caribbean and the wind goes through the islands and creates twists, lulls, acceleration areas, and diversions and conversions of the wind. So you need to think in advance about where to put the boat to get the very best position. We’ll start 250nm from Panama in the Colombian basin and it will be upwind. Usually, the winds are north east, so we go on a starboard tack.

“Then in between the islands it's very variable, you get a lot of wind holes. It’s cool because you see the islands and the landscape and then whoever escapes the islands first I think is going to be the winner so we are going to really push hard on the first third, and then after the lulls it becomes a bit more of a reach.”

On visiting Washington, DC, Nano added: “I’ve never been to Washington so it’s going to be very exciting to go there. We are very motivated with the guys to push hard.”

Angus Whitehead, AQP, Yacht Club Punta del Este
“We are back on home turf now! The Caribbean Sea is beautiful, I’ve done a lovely bit of sailing there previously, and we are expecting some nice trade winds for the first few days. It’ll get a little bit shifty through the islands as the land creates shadows and funnels of wind. Then past the Bahamas and up to the states hopefully we will be flying, and we have the Gulf Stream in shore, so it will be interesting to see what happens!”

Image: Yacht Club Punta del Este

Dan Bodey, Skipper, UNICEF
“We are going to get quite an interesting range of weather from the trade winds in the Caribbean Sea, and some light downwind sailing in the Atlantic, which will be nice. We have to navigate through the Caribbean Island and through the Windward Passage, so it's going to be light and shifty. Some good opportunities to get away from the fleet potentially, and we will see if the Scoring Gate is a possibility or not.

“We are looking forward to getting into DC, seeing the capital city, exploring the monuments and the Whitehouse. The parties and events that we hear have been put on sound exciting, so we are looking forward to the stopover.”

Laura Hampton, AQP, UNICEF
“It is quite exciting to be headed into a short race after two really long races in the Pacific. To be back on the Atlantic side is really cool. We are heading into some light shifty squally weather as we navigate the Windward Passage through the Caribbean Islands which will be fun for the crew.”

And on the upcoming visit to first time Host Port Washington, DC, Laura added: “To get into Washington DC, is really exciting. I'm looking forward to seeing what Events DC have put on. They have been a phenomenal and active partner, so I am looking forward to what is going to happen in the city. It will be really nice to be nearing our final steps of the circumnavigation.”


Ineke Van Der Weijden, Skipper, Perseverance
Having sailed these waters before, Ineke said: “It's not a very long race, but it’s a very interesting one, because it has a lot of different elements. South of the islands at the beginning we will have the trade winds, then we will pass through the Windward Passage through Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and then north of there you have the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, and with that can come wind holes, or with some wind through it, so it is going to be interesting to see what we are going to get this time around.

“Once we get north of that we get into the Atlantic proper, where its weather patterns are often driven by the low pressure systems, and then I hope we are going to get a little bit of the Gulf Stream.”

Joss Creswell, AQP, Perseverance
“It’s a big one because the race is starting to come to a head and so it's very, very competitive between the top boats. I’m really excited for the Caribbean, it's going to be tactical decisions within the islands, and then Washington, DC is an amazing place, so we are really excited as a team.”

Image: Perseverance

James Finney, Skipper, Zhuhai
“We are on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal and we are about to start Race 12 up to Washington, DC. We have to make our way through the Caribbean Islands, which are a unique challenge. Lots of wind holes, lots of wind effects, and quite unpredictable sailing. Then when we get out the other side it should settle down a little bit, with normal north Atlantic weather, and then as we get closer to the coast we get the Gulf Stream as well."

Mike Davies, AQP, Zhuhai
“I am really excited. I can't wait to get into the Caribbean Sea and then into the Atlantic, and finally into Washington, DC. It feels like we are on the last stretch home. I’ve sailed in the Caribbean quite a lot, so I'm familiar with the territory and can understand the wind a little bit better, which hopefully will give a bit of an advantage over our competitors.

“Going through the Caribbean is always a little hit and miss, you’ve got big mountains that can cause wind shallows, and then as you go higher through the Bahamas you’ve got lovely downwind conditions, hopefully nice and fast. It just depends on the high-pressure system that sits there.”

Image: Zhuhai

Philip Quinn, Skipper, Qingdao
“The first thing is we are getting away from the lack of wind, there will still be wind holes, but we are getting back into the trade winds with a good steady breeze. Getting through the Caribbean is quite close to islands and Cuba which will be very interesting for everyone.

“We are heading home now, back into the Atlantic side. We've had some good results but we can't rest on our laurels. We have to keep trying for the same results, and keep pushing hard”.

Henry Hallatt, AQP, Qingdao
“It's going to be quite an interesting race, upwind into the Caribbean Sea, we’ve got lots of Islands, so lots of wind shadows through the islands, lots of tactics; which side are we going to go. Then we have the changeable weather, hopefully, a lot of downwind all the way to Washington, DC.”

Image: Qingdao

Mike Miller, Skipper, PSP Logistics
“It really feels like now we are on the home stretch. We've still got a long way to go, another ocean to cross, but you can taste the end now. It's super exciting.

“We have to go on a long motor up, through the Potomac River and up to the bay which should be quite challenging and technical, but it will be a really interesting passage”

Lottie Wade, AQP, PSP Logistics
“I’m excited to get into the sailing, and back into the Atlantic. It feels like we are on the home stretch now. I am excited because this time we can use wind instruments, so we will definitely be using them. The weather that comes through, the sail changes, everything from the basics we need to be vigilant.

“I'm really looking forward to going to Washington, DC. It is such a historic, political place it's going to be really exciting to visit it and see all the history."

Image: PSP Logistics

Bob Beggs, Skipper, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam
“This is going to be a good race, initially we will expect to be beating through the Caribbean, then once we get through the ones at the top, it tends to be more spinnaker work, so it can be a good fast race, especially a good fast ending. I’ve got a fired up crew, and we are ready to go.

“We need to make sure we nail every race now, to stay at the top of the leaderboard, we have Perseverance only six points behind us, with both Perseverance and Zhuhai still having Jokers to play. I can anticipate it is going to be a hard battle against them because they will also be fired up.”

Cameron McCracken, AQP, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam
“We've got a couple of light days motoring as we make our way to the rendezvous point for the start of Race 12. Then it looks like we will have wind at the forward of the beam, then later on it looks like it's going to go behind, as we get closer to the islands, with some localised weather. Then as you get further up, you get the weather more influenced by the trades, so we should get some nice strong breeze up there.”

Image: Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam

The fleet is now motoring to the Le Mans Start area where Race 12: Come Sea DC Cup will begin at 1200 LT/1700 UTC tomorrow (7 June). Keep up with all the action on the Clipper Race Instagram and Facebook channels and over on the Race Viewer.

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