Close encounters of whales! Sanya Serenity Coast still in 1st place on leaderboard
After nearly a week at sea racing around the clock in Race 12: The LegenDerry Race, the majority of the Clipper Race fleet is separated by just 55 nautical miles (nm) which will make the upcoming Scoring Gate tactics interesting to watch unravel as the teams continue to storm their way quickly through the first half of the race.
The fleet remains closely compacted with two main groups formed; a larger northerly group with the bulk of the teams and a southerly group formed of Qingdao and PSP Logistics. In the northerly pack, Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck is hoping to catch the frontrunners. She reports: “We are still chasing that front pack, and now with the breeze lightening up we might get a bit of the old fleet compression, the words you hate when out the front, but that you love when you are in the chase.”
Sanya Serenity Coast is now in first place on the leaderboard, holding a 19 point lead over second placed Visit Seattle.
Shortly after the Clipper Race fleet officially began the penultimate race of the 40,000 nautical mile, eleven month circumnavigation on Day 1 of Race 12, the fleet saw a series of blow spouts of whales breaking water to breathe. Then Sanya Serenity Coast, which had got off to a flying start, had to rapidly bear away to avoid hitting a whale.
“As the fleet charged forward, it was if there were large puffs of smoke from small explosions breaking out across the water between the boats. We had two within a boat length of the GREAT Britain boat and a few hundred meters away, we saw the large tail of an unidentified whale break then smash down on the water,” said GREAT Britain Skipper Dave Hartshorn.
And if whales were not enough to deal with, Sanya Serenity Coast also encountered another unexpected obstacle, as Skipper Wendy Tuck reports: “Just after sunset, I got asked whilst I was in the Nav Station what was up ahead on AIS. I could only see a fishing boat which was not going to be an issue, when all of a sudden, a submarine popped up!”
Looking ahead, the fleet looks to have a very tricky couple of days as it negotiates a cell of high pressure coming towards it. With further fleet compressions, Gulf Streams and Scoring Gates looming ahead, Clipper Race Viewer addiction is set to increase for those watching from home.
The 3,000nm Race 12: The LegenDerry Race is expected to take up to 19 days, with the Clipper Race fleet estimated to arrive in Derry-Londonderry between 10-14 July – just in time for the Foyle Maritime Festival. The award-winning festival will run from Saturday 14 July until the fleet departs for Liverpool on Sunday 22 July. For more information about Foyle Maritime Festival, see the Derry-Londonderry Stopover page on the Clipper Race website.