The Clipper Race fleet is converging on the Sarangani virtual mark which was brought forward from the original Race 8A finish line at the Basilan Gate a week ago due to the slow progress of the fleet following unseasonable weather conditions.
A closely fought tactical race has been unfolding over the last few days which is set to produce a nail biting finish for the leading boats over the next few hours for his stage of the race.
The fleet will then motor sail to the planned restart in the South China Sea. However, race officials will keep a close eye on prevailing conditions in the event that significantly better progress will be made by continuing to motor sail to Singapore rather than recommence racing under sail.
Race Director Justin Taylor said: “Despite the frustrating weather conditions, this has proved to be an extremely exciting and challenging stage of the race. A number of teams took a more northerly route which paid dividends. But as the wind has filled over the past couple of days there are a number of front runners in contention for strong finishes across the line. We are mindful of the delays to the schedule and will keep a close eye on the fleet’s progress.”
The race schedule into Singapore has had to be revised because of the unseasonal weather delays that have been experienced. The estimated arrival window into One15 Marina at Sentosa Cove is now 13-14 February with the Race 9 start to Qingdao pushed back to 18 February.
Independent Clipper Race weather consultant Simon Rowell explains: “The weather has been unusual in that there have been two tropical depressions along the race route, which has only happened once in the previous 20 years. These have both given rise to stronger NW head winds along the north coast of Papua New Guinea followed by a period of very light winds before the NE Trades re-establish themselves. This has made the progress of the Clipper Race Fleet very stop/start, and is the reason for the slow overall progress since leaving the Solomon Sea.”
The expected NE Trade Winds have only just reasserted themselves in the last couple of days.