In the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, the complicated, ever changing wind conditions in the Southern Ocean have reached a certain lull over the past 24 hours, dropping from up to 50 knots, down to ‘highs’ of just 10 knots. This has resulted in the entire fleet being ground down to a far more ‘pedestrian’ speed level, with some teams even finding themselves totally becalmed.
Andrew Taylor on the helm during Race 4 of the 2013-14 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race
The only exception to the rule appears to be Mission Performance who have taken the most southerly route of the fleet, gaining itself two positions to seventh place.
With strong winds, equal to or maybe even stronger than last week’s storm, forecasted to sweep through from the back of the fleet over the coming day, skippers are now busy indulging in a range of tactical sail changes and manoeuvres to select their best positions in preparation.
Most of the fleet are headed south in an attempt to escape the current high pressure, seeking stronger winds. Switzerland, Team Garmin and Jamaica Get All Right however have chosen a northerly route as they attempt to escape the full strength of the potential storm and take best advantage of the coming conditions.
Explaining his tactics, Jamaica Get All Right skipper Pete Stirling explains: 'As I sit here and write, we find ourselves pretty much totally becalmed and trying everything we can to keep the boat moving. This is literally the calm before the storm as within 24 hours we are expecting to have 40 knots plus of wind again. The dilemma has been to stay south for the last couple of days where the better breeze has been, yet get north by tomorrow morning for when the next low pressure system comes in. The problem is getting north when there isn't any wind.'
Further ahead, Great Britain skipper Simon Talbot predicts, 'The next 24 hours should prove very interesting tactically as the wind fills in from behind us, giving the chasing fleet the wind first and I am sure in their opinion, the long overdue opportunity to do some serious catching up for 12 hours or so before the wind reaches us.'
Though it looks temporary, the chance for some rest and recovery is proving welcome to most of the crews after the tough racing conditions they’ve faced over the past ten days. PSP Logistics skipper Chris Hollis is clearly taking the chance to enjoying the view in the Southern Ocean, as he notes: 'You either have too much wind, or not enough, either way the seascape is magnifique. Never once the same. Last night under the moonlit sky, the sea was rolling on by like long undulating hills in the English countryside. It was fantastic!'
While they wait patiently for the winds to pick up, many crews are busying themselves with maintenance work in preparation. OneDLL skipper Olly Cotterell is looking forward to treating his crew to a South African steak night, while Switzerland ‘s Norwegian watch are planning a takeover of the nearby French owned Kerguelen Islands. Just don’t tell their French watch….
At 1200 UTC, Qingdao continues its lead of the fleet, (2370.9 miles to finish) Henri Lloyd is now only just holding onto second place (2499.9) with OneDLL (2506.2) chasing right behind in third.
Clipper Round the World