The Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race fleet has enjoyed its initial 24 hours at sea on the first day of the race from Fremantle to Sydney. The fleet continues to be closely bunched as it rounds Cape Leeuwin with a difference of less than 20 nautical miles separating the eleven Clipper Race teams.
Sanya Serenity Coast has stolen the early advantage once again and Skipper Wendy Tuck has added incentive to get to Sydney as quickly as possible: “We are off racing to my home town – yippee. It was a beautiful night sailing last night, clear skies and a nearly very bright moon, and not too cold. Everyone happy on board even if it takes a few days to get back into eat, sleep, sail, laugh, repeat.”
She is certainly not resting on her laurels and added: “We had a good start [and] it has now been a bash up wind, we have cleared the corner of Western Australia and still heading south. Some tough calls await regarding avoiding some wind holes.”
Less than five nautical miles is currently separating the teams between second and ninth place with positions expected to change regularly over the next 24 hours. HotelPlanner.com is currently leading the chasing pack and Skipper Conall Morrison has the race leader in his sights: “After making our way around the cans and getting some gybing practice in we are close hauled on our way southwards. At present we are about 40 nautical miles south west of Cape Leeuwin and we can just about see race leader Sanya Serenity Coast.”
After a particularly tough and emotional Leg 3 and stopover for GREAT Britain, the team has responded remarkably well and is currently in third position. Skipper Andy Burns said: “We had an epic start out of the blocks and around Rottnest Island. The crew all had their heads in the game, making it much easier.
“The first night’s sail under moon light, starry skies, open ocean and the view of our fellow competitors’ navigation lights was a sight to be seen and one you wouldn’t quite appreciate from dry land.”
Reallocated Greenings crew have now joined teams across the fleet and he added: “We welcome three of the Greenings crew, who bring with them a wealth of knowledge and a new edge of competitiveness.”
Following close behind is Garmin in fourth and Liverpool 2018 in fifth. Meanwhile, in sixth position, Unicef Skipper Bob Beggs has caught up with the close-knit pack after a difficult start: “A great start for spectators yesterday although our position over the line wasn’t fantastic. We are now racing in a close pack of Clipper Race yachts watching each other closely.”
The teams are rounding the second of three famous great capes and he added: “We have all cleared Cape Leeuwin and are cracking on south awaiting a wind shift. We should then see the different strategies develop.”
It was also a difficult start for seventh-placed Visit Seattle with Skipper Nikki Henderson commenting: “The first day of the race has proven challenging. Not too sure why, but we just couldn’t make our boat move very well last night and struggled to stay up with the pack. Things have improved a little this morning so hoping we can remain competitive.”
To the west of the chasing pack is Qingdao in eighth and Nasdaq in ninth with the latter Skipper Rob Graham reflecting on the Fremantle stopover: “The Maintenance Team did a great job – working flat out to get all of the issues from Leg 3 resolved, and the Clipper Race Office staff somehow managed to make the schedule work.”
Looking ahead, he added that: “We still have seven other boats in sight and the other three showing on AIS. A messy, unsettled patch of wind might shake things up a bit in the next day or so, but it should be a good close race all the way.”
Tenth place PSP Logistics and eleventh place Dare To Lead opted for similar tactics at the start by initially heading inshore. Dare To Lead Skipper Dale Smyth explains: “We went inshore last night seeking some flatter water but it definitely didn’t pay off and we are squarely at the back of the fleet. Anyhow a long way to go.”
With a low-pressure system moving in over the next 36 hours, positions could all change and Clipper Race Meteorologist, Simon Rowell, reports that: “The breeze should veer and also be quite variable as the ridge moves around Cape Leeuwin. It’ll be a tactical maze for the teams, but the decent breeze to the south of it is coming in anyway, so the ridge between the south/south-east ahead of it and the south/south-west behind it shouldn’t be more than a few hours.”