Following an adrenaline filled start to the Clipper 2017-18 Race, the competition for race standings is now well underway.
With less than 20nm separating the fleet between first and twelfth place, positions are expected to change regularly over the next 24 hours.
Reflecting on Race Start, Nikki Henderson, Skipper of Visit Seattle who have just slipped behind Unicef with only 0.06nm between them, said: “Now I can confidently report that starting a 6400NM race in the River Mersey on a Clipper 70 yacht with 22 people on board is no mean feat!”
Once clear of the River Mersey, teams began to progress towards the Irish sea, but changeable and fickle wind conditions teamed with close proximity racing overnight made for a tiring night with regular sail changes and movement of leader board positions.
Conall Morrison, Skipper of HotelPlanner.com, has made great ground and spent most of the night in the middle of the fleet after an initially slow start out of the blocks. He reports: “We are somewhere in the middle of the fleet which makes it interesting at night when someone tacks or gybes, but it is nice for the crew to get the chance to do so many evolutions early on.”
One team looking at the lack of wind in a positive way is third placed Sanya Serenity Coast. In her first race report, Skipper Wendy Tuck said: “The good thing about not being too windy means all crew are fine with no sea sickness – yippee!”
Although initially holding a top position in the fleet, Garmin slipped back in the rankings and is currently in eleventh place. The team’s Skipper Gaetan Thomas explains: “We were quickly leading the fleet but I totally forgot about the last virtual mark and we had to come back and leave it to port, slipping from first to nearly last now. It is painful but I am the only one to blame.”
Another team currently striving to make up lost ground is Qingdao. Skipper Chris Kobusch explains: “The Qingdao crew threw in some flawless tacks and sailed us into second position until a tactical error from my side put us into the shallow edges of the river mouth and outside the tide.
“We lost a few positions, but managed to climb the ladder again once we hoisted the Windseeker.”
The crew of Liverpool 2018 are in high spirits considering their twelfth-place position (0900 BST). Lance Shepherd commented: “There is a long way to go so we are not worried about positions at this stage.
“We are making sure everything is being done safely and correctly – then we can start to push for performance.”
With teams settling into watch systems, they have had a chance to reflect on the momentous Liverpool start, which marked a special moment in their Clipper Race journey.
Skipper Roy Taylor, PSP Logistics, said: “It was a great departure from Liverpool and fantastic to see so many of the team and supporters down to see us off (or just to make sure we actually departed!)”.
Dale Smyth, Skipper of Dare To Lead in fourth place said: “Thank you to the team that made such an amazing and smooth departure, there are too many to name here but you all are fantastic!!!!!”
Nikki Henderson added: “I found myself wishing I could have seen it from your view … for about 10 seconds until I remembered the awesome adventure that lies ahead – lucky us!”
But the most reflective of all was Greenings team Skipper Dave Hartshorn: “A big thank you to Andrew Greening, his family and his team for the incredible support they have displayed during our preparation. They all demonstrated their mission statement of values through people. The crew feel very valued by our team partner.
“The biggest thank you goes out to you, our family and friends, who have supported us in getting this far. We all truly appreciate the support you have given us and understand the personal sacrifice you are making while we all go and live our dream.
“Without you, we would just not be able to do it, so thank you.”
GREAT Britain, currently in tenth position, is the first ever Clipper Race team to play the Joker Card, a new single-use tactical move introduced for the 2017-18 race edition which doubles accrued points for one selected race.
Explaining the team’s decision to use the Joker Card on the first Leg, Skipper Andy Burns said: “We decided to play our Joker Card early on as anything above sixth place will put GREAT Britain on top of the leader board and that will give us a great psychological edge for the rest of the race.”