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Clipper Race – Can Derry~Londonderry hold on for a home port victory?

by The Clipper Race on 5 Jul 2016
Race 12, Day 15 - Clipper Yacht Race – The Legenderry Finale Clipper Ventures
With 175 nautical miles remaining in the LegenDerry Finale, Derry~Londonderry~Doire is leading the race to its home port once again, but with only 7.5NM between the front three teams as they head for the final waypoint round Rathlin Island, a nailbitingly close finish looks guaranteed with everything still to play for in this thrilling final stage.

The leaders all rounded Rockall together, within metres of each other, a remarkable feat after more than 3200NM of racing across the Atlantic Ocean. LMAX Exchange Skipper Olivier Cardin, currently 3NM behind Derry~Londonderry~Doire in second place, explains some of the cat and mouse racing over the last 24 hours.

“Beating, we saw Derry~Londonderry~Doire yesterday in the sunset and lost him during the night.

Thought he was on the left but not sure. This morning ClipperTelemed+ came back from the right and crossed 3.5NM ahead. We played some shifts and took the lead. Under control we kept going to Rockall with ClipperTelemed+ 400 metres behind.

“We didn't know where Derry~Londonderry~Doire was. And 10NM before Rockall, a sail appeared, he was on the left! Same bearing before crossing... it will be a close finish! And in fact we crossed two boat lengths behind, four miles off Rockall, with ClipperTelemed+ still 400m behind us.”

Derry~Londonderry~Doire Skipper Daniel Smith adds: “Rockall was impressive and a much bigger rock than I imagined. We skirted the side of the exclusion zone before hoisting our spinnaker and setting off downwind towards Rathlin Island. We hope that the wind holds. Currently we are just in first and with a bit of a blow we'll be able to open up the gap and have enough power to negotiate the Traffic Separation Scheme and strong tides at Rathlin Island.”

Not giving up the fight, with such a short distance between ClipperTelemed+ and the two yachts in front, Skipper Matt Mitchell knows that his team are still in the running for a back-to-back win after their success into New York in Race 11.

“It's a race against time now as light airs are forecast for about 24 hours’ time before swinging around to the south which could give us another bout of headwinds. It's a bit of a drag race between the top three at the moment and there's not too much in it really. Safe to say we are looking pretty safe for an arrival on 6th July.”

Further back in the fleet, the other teams are also gripped by the battle for podium places. Twelfth placed IchorCoal Skipper Rich Gould observes: “Although we have no chance of catching the front of the fleet it certainly is making compelling viewing. The forecast for the lead boats looks to be throwing down one last challenge, this coupled with the fact that the proximity to the coast will mean that tide (and lots of it!) becomes a large factor, could mean that there might be a big reshuffle of the fleet before the line is crossed.”

Given the most recent estimated arrival times, the winning team for Race 12 should have crossed the finish line at Greencastle by this time tomorrow (Wednesday 6 July) and arrived at the Foyle Marina. Arrivals are then due to spread across the coming days with other teams working to finish as high up the standings as possible because of the impact this will have on the Overall Race Standings come Race Finish in London.

With just days to go until the final ocean crossing of the Clipper 2015-16 Race is completed, Qingdao Skipper Bob Beggs, who won the Clipper 2000-2001 Race reflects on the remarkable race the fleet has had from New York.

“For the many leggers in the fleet this will be probably their first and possibly the last ocean crossing they complete. They discovered the Atlantic in one of her calmest moods. As a veteran of seventeen crossings this has been the fastest crossing I have made and the first in which I crossed without putting a reef in the mainsail.

“But with three or so days to still to run the race is far from over and the Atlantic may still have a trick up her sleeve before we arrive for the ‘LegenDerry’ Derry-Londonderry reception,” he added.

The final preparations for the fleet arrivals are in full swing in Derry-Londonderry where a host of events have been put on to make this the biggest and best stopover yet in the city’s three race history.

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