The Chinese teams competing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, Sanya Serenity Coast and Qingdao, are dominating as they lead the overall standings going into Leg 7, the penultimate leg of the 2017-18 edition.
The Chinese teams, which are only separated by eleven points overall, set sail from Seattle today (29 April) alongside the nine other Clipper Race teams to embark on the race stage which takes them to Panama. The intense 4,000 nautical mile (nm) Race 10: The Garmin American Challenge is one of two stages in Leg 7 and is expected to take the crews approximately 26 days to complete.
All eleven Clipper Race teams were given a heroes' send off by loved ones and Seattle locals at The Port of Seattle's Bell Harbor Marina.
First placed Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck, from Sydney, Australia, is leading a team for her second consecutive Clipper Race. Speaking on departure, she said: "After the Mighty Pacific Leg, Race 10 might seem a little gentler but it can still be tough. We are still in the North Pacific so we can still get big low-pressure systems coming across, so conditions are likely to be very varied."
On departure, all teams competed in a short inshore circuit in front of Seattle's impressive skyline. After two laps around Elliott Bay, the winning team was, very fittingly, Visit Seattle, but was closely followed by Sanya Serenity Coast in second place. The results determined the starting order for Race 10's Le Mans start which will take place on Monday 30 April after the crews have passed through Puget Sound and into the North Pacific Ocean.
And that's where things will start to get interesting, as Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch explains: "Weather-wise, at the moment it looks quite nice we are going to have downwind sailing for the first two maybe three days. Then it will get really tactical because the wind dies down its going to light wind sailing and it's all about position the boat in the right spot."
Following the team's debut win into Seattle just over a week ago, Chris adds: "The team is pretty keen after their victory in the last race, but I think this race will be completely different to the previous one, much lighter conditions."
The drysuits and thermal layers of earlier legs will gradually be replaced by sunscreen and shorts as the temperature rises near Mexico. The end of Race 10 will feature one of the highlights of the Clipper 2017-18 Race – the Panama Canal. Transiting this engineering masterpiece will be a once in a lifetime moment for the majority of the Clipper Race crew.
The fleet arrives into Panama between 23 and 27 May. After a short respite, the second race of Leg 7 will see the yachts travel North from the coast off Panama City, to New York City.