After days of taking a northerly route through Papua New Guinea, the fleet has finally reached a point where it can pick up the north-easterly Trade Winds which will ease the passage to Vietnam.

Currently leading the Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race is Derry~Londonderry~Doire, which followed by the majority of the fleet, started to head in a more westerly direction after crossing the Equator. In close company with GREAT Britain, less than 3nM behind, the pair have opened up a 30nM lead over third placed Qingdao.

Daniel Smith, Skipper of Derry~Londonderry~Doire says: “Sailing has been tricky over the past day. Regular squalls have meant that we have been changing from full mainsail and no wind to 30 knots with heavily reduced sail. It has also rained very hard. Both watches have got on with the job and every time I put my head up to see how they are doing the boat is going well.

“Today we were pushing north with GREAT Britain trying to find the north-easterly winds that will carry us to Da Nang. As I write this we have now tacked onto a north-easterly wind which is pushing the boat along nicely. Hopefully this wind is here to stay.”

The front ten boats have crossed the Equator for the second time in this circumnavigation, which meant there were plenty of Shellbacks on board to help initiate the Pollywogs, those who had joined the boat for later legs and were crossing the line for the first time. Unicef Skipper Paul Atwood says: “Today has been quite a milestone for many of the crew, including me! At 0700 local time (2100 UTC), the good ship Unicef crossed the Equator and received a visit from King Neptune. The Pollywogs were thoroughly denounced for their crimes and after a suitable penance were accepted by the court as true Shellbacks.

“This excitement followed another night of unseasonal and non-typical north-north-westerly breeze, so we have continued our march north rather than north-west. We appear not be alone given the positions of other boats in the Clipper Race fleet.”

Eleventh and twelfth placed teams Mission Performance and Visit Seattle have now cleared the light winds that had been holding them along the east coast of New Ireland in Papua New Guinea, and after a short period of sailing in close proximity, are taking different routes.

While Visit Seattle has decided to follow the rest of the fleet, Mission Performance is staying further south as Skipper Greg Miller describes: “So we are currently following the coast of New Ireland around to the north-west and will pop out to the north in search of the north-easterly Trade Winds soon. Then we have the mammoth task of re-joining the fleet and taking a few places off them!

“En route we will be passing some pretty impressive islands; dark, mountainous and shrouded in cloud. We are currently passing Lihir Island, leaving it to starboard then heading up past the Tabar Islands, a group of three islands nestled close together before we tack and head towards Manus Island. I am sure these islands would be amazing to explore if we had the time!”

Will Mission Performance’s gamble pay off and are the north-easterly Trade Winds here to stay for the lead boats? To follow all the action, see the Race Viewer here.

To find out more about King Neptune and the Equator crossing ceremony, click here.

Click here to see the schedule of events planned for the Da Nang stopover.

*Positions correct at 1000 UTC.

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