Da Nang – Viet Nam, led by Australian Skipper Wendy Tuck, has held its lead overnight, benefitting from ber south westerly winds by being on the east side of the course.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire, in second as of 1000 AEDT (2300 UTC December 27), and Mission Performance, in third, are both in lighter winds of around 8 knots to the west.
Da Nang – Viet Nam has been in the lead since the race started and a powerful southerly buster front moved in after eight hours, battering the fleet. Competing in her ninth RSHYR, Wendy described it as her worst ever first night of a Sydney Hobart.
She explains: “What a first 24 hours, an awesome kite run then the front hit which we were expecting. We could see it coming towards us, the sky was a tad cloudy then it just got black…..we started to get the kite down. We had it about half down when it started to build so I ended up going a bit north just to run with the wind change to get the kite down safely which did eventually happen after a bit of a battle.
“Next we put three reefs in, yep we went straight from a full main to three reefs, it happened, wasn’t a very pretty reef but it all went in ok. Then it was a matter of just sailing the boat. The seas built into an ugly messy sea state. A couple of crew that have been on since London and have never been seasick before suddenly came down with it. The boat was pounding like it never has before. It took everyone by surprise how uncomfortable it was.”
After that night, which saw gusting winds of more than 50 knots on the nose, the b winds and swells continued for most of yesterday with a total of 32 yachts now retired from the race, making it the toughest on record since 2004.
But in stark comparison, the fleet is now contending with winds that have lightened considerably overnight.
Garmin Skipper Ash Skett, in sixth place, described the fleet’s new dilemma: “We are now faced with winds that will continue to decrease, so the race from here is going to present all kinds of challenges, not least how the fleet manages the currents off the coast of Tasmania. Fortunately, our previous passage of this area gave us some good info so hopefully we can get it right and make up even more ground across the straits and down the coast of Tassie.
“As is the norm, we have been doing battle with GREAT Britain over the last 12 hours or so and once again there is not much between us come this morning’s position reports. Looks like they are heading further out as I type but I’m pretty certain that our paths will cross again,” Ash added.
Mission Performance Skipper Greg Miller said yesterday had been very hard work after the introduction to the southerly buster storm: “We had 40 knots of wind yesterday most of the day with large swells which we were driving into. This didn’t bode well for the crew who were already feeling sick down below, as we slammed into what seemed like every wave. It makes it fairly obvious though when someone takes over the helm, it takes them a while to get used to it and they start to glide over the waves rather than crashing through each one!
“The schedules have been interesting and it is good to see that our hard work is paying off still!” Greg added.
Justin Taylor, the Clipper Race Director, said over the next 36-48 hours it looks like the wind will be light and variable in direction, as the centre of the easterly moving high pressure passes over the fleet. After this the breeze should start filling in from the west before light and variable conditions return. It should then fill in from the north. He added it is going to be tough on the Clipper Race fleet in such light wind.
Clipper Race leader Da Nang – Viet Nam is fifth (of 22) in the IRC 2 class, and 29th in the overall line honours rankings.
Clipper Ventures 10, with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston aboard as Navigator, is currently 26th in the IRC 2 class, 63rd in overall line honours, with other Clipper 68 yacht Clipper Ventures 5 sitting 61st overall, and 22nd in IRC2.