Published: Tuesday, 05 April 2016

LMAX Exchange, GREAT Britain and Garmin crossed the Scoring Gate first, second and third respectively, earning three, two and one points each, in Leg 6 of the Clipper Race from Qingdao, China to Seattle, USA.

Lmax Exchange First To Cross Leg 6 Scoring Gate

(Photo: Olli Geibel / Departing Qingdao, China)

Derry~Londonderry~Doire is still at the head of the fleet, with Unicef in second, 59 nautical miles behind, and ClipperTelemed+ in third position, 64nm behind the leader.

Strong squalls have kept the teams busy in the cold temperatures as they change sail plans often to deal with the range of wind speeds. The wind has ranged between 10 and 30 knots, with powerful squalls delivering 40 knot gusts, so the teams have been reefing and then shaking out reefs regularly.

Thankfully, the wind has been from a good direction on the beam, providing exhilarating surfing conditions and high boat speeds at around the halfway stage of the Seattle Pacific Challenge.

ClipperTelemed+ Skipper Matt Mitchell said it had been a wild 24 hours with moderate to strong wind on the beam, big breaking waves and sleigh ride boat speeds.

“We are really making the most of the weather and are hitting great six hourly runs of 70 miles or more. Every half an hour or so powerful squalls pulse through giving us 40-knot gusts.”

Lmax Exchange First To Cross Leg 6 Scoring Gate 1

“Let’s just say the traveller has smoke coming off it it's being worked so hard,” says Mitchell. “The guys are doing a great job on the whole and we are trying to get as many miles tucked away as we can. In another six hours or so we will be down to just 2,500 miles to go, which if we can maintain similar speeds that we are now is only nine days sailing. Unlikely, but a good target to aim for nonetheless.”

Visit Seattle Skipper Huw Fernie, racing to home port, said his team were strong, despite being cold and wet a lot of the time. “This afternoon for us sees another increase in wind and also a shift in direction so we are finally going fast downwind, life is a little easier temporarily. But we are rushing to outrun a chasing light winds patch, so there is still no rest.”

With around 2,500 nautical miles to go in the Seattle Pacific Challenge, the next significant milestone for the fleet will be the International Date Line, which the teams will start crossing in less than 24 hours’ time based on current speeds.

This is the first time in the race’s 20-year history that the fleet will visit Seattle. From there the teams will race to Panama, New York, Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland, Den Helder in the Netherlands and on to race finish in London on July 30.