Race 1, Day 19: Sanya Serenity Coast Goes Stealth

08 September 2017

All twelve Clipper Race teams are now in the Doldrums Corridor, but in the latest surprise of the Atlantic Trade Winds Leg 1, Sanya Serenity Coast has elected to employ Stealth Mode.

Stealth Mode is a tactical card which teams can use to hide their position from the rest of the fleet for a period of 24 hours, though the Clipper Race Office will still track the team’s position every hour.

After a declaration from Skipper Wendy Tuck, the second placed Sanya Serenity Coast went off the grid at 1800 UTC yesterday. Stay tuned to see how the move pays off.

Qingdao continues to lead the fleet and with Sanya Serenity Coast in Stealth Mode, GREAT Britain is third place on the leader board. Both teams are racing under sail again, after completing their period of moto-sailing for exactly 6 degrees of latitude for a maximum 60 hours.

Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “Since we finished our 60 hours of motoring yesterday, we’ve had steady winds of about 15-20 knots right on the nose, which was quite a drastic change in living on board compared to the calmness of the Doldrums.

“With a couple of squalls coming our way, we got to refresh our reefing skills and some of the crew got another, more or less welcome, shower.”

IMAGE: Latest positions on Race Viewer at time of publishing.

The second placed Visit Seattle was still motor-sailing overnight, and despite celebrating reaching the half-way mark of the Atlantic Trade Winds Leg 1, Skipper Nikki Henderson is keen to be clear of the Doldrums, saying: “Well, motoring in the Doldrums was fun and relaxing - now I would just describe it as uncomfortable. These boats are definitely designed to sail - the motion of motoring into the sea and the wind feels very unnatural. We cannot wait until we reach our 6 degrees of latitude now and get back to it!”

Clipper Race Director, Mark Light, instructed Visit Seattle to carry out a boat-to-boat transfer with Unicef yesterday to enable the essential transfer of spares and stores. This is a benefit of the Doldrums Corridor rule, that it allows the fleet to support each other in this way, without affecting the overall race positions of either vessel.

IMAGE: Visit Seattle arriving for the boat-to-boat transfer with Unicef.

Sixth placed HotelPlanner.com continued to make good progress overnight, but fifth placed Liverpool 2018 had a frustrating 12 hours, travelling 48 nautical miles, compared to the 67 completed by HotelPlanner.com. Liverpool 2018 Skipper Lance Shepherd explains: “Instead of motoring through glass flat water and seeing the occasional tropical squall which was the plan, we here on board Liverpool 2018 have experienced something completely different.

“We hit a wind hole 90 miles north of the Doldrums Corridor and then have had quite good winds after that. In fact, currently we're sailing through some pretty choppy seas with winds gusting up to 30 knots. And all the while we're stuck doing no more than 6 knots because we're under engine.”

IMAGE: Mast climb on Qingdao.

It was a frustrating day and night at the back of the fleet too, with Nasdaq also troubled by a wind hole on the way to the Doldrums Corridor. Skipper Rob Graham comments: “Having spent the whole day getting south towards the Doldrums Corridor North Gate quickly under the Lightweight Kite (Code 1), by 2000UTC we had got to within just 18 nautical miles of the gate when we ran straight into the Doldrums.

“The wind died, occasionally gusting up from any direction as the tall clouds surrounding us took control of the local weather - and of us. We spent the entire night clawing our way through fickle, shifting winds and occasional cloudburst showers with brief strong gusts.”

IMAGE: Talking tactics on Garmin.

Nasdaq has now crossed into the Doldrums Corridor and has begun its period of motor-sailing, as has Greenings, who got a real and early taste of the variable weather conditions of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Skipper Dan Smith says: “We hadn't experienced any squalls yet so I was wary sailing south into the Doldrums with my lightest sail cloth up. With about an hour to go, we sailed towards the biggest dirtiest cloud we have seen yet. The wind changed by 90 degrees and it rained. The wind increased and we worked hard keeping the boat under control, always being ready to drop the spinnaker.

“Eventually we popped through the other side into a massive wind hole. A frantic sail change soon got the lightweight kite (Code 1) down and the Windseeker up which we needed for the final drift into the Doldrums Corridor.”

In potential good news for both Greenings and Nasdaq, the latest weather forecasts show the ITCZ (Doldrums) will be wiped out by the next tropical depression, as it draws air directly in from the South Atlantic. According to Clipper Race weather guru Simon Rowell, the absence of a ITCZ could be useful for teams in the north.

NOTE: All positions were correct at time of publishing.

To stay up to date with the fleet’s positions keep a close eye on the Clipper Race Viewer.

To read all the Skipper reports in full, and also read the Crew Diaries for insightful views into life on board, visit the Clipper Race Team Pages.