Most of the Clipper Race Fleet is now deep into the Doldrums Corridor, with all ten teams who have so far crossed the northern gate electing to motor-sail for the allowed six degrees of latitude and for a maximum of 60 hours.


Whilst the motor-sailing provision does eliminate the danger of becoming becalmed in the windless Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), it does present its own challenges for the teams. Skipper of the fifth placed Unicef Bob Beggs reports: “The journey south through the Doldrums Corridor continues at a set pace of 6.5 knots. At this latitude, we are directly under the sun and cloudless blue skies.


“Combined with the heat generated by the main engine, it ensures the temperature down below is unbearable, with crew choosing to sleep on deck to find respite from the heat.”


Other than the heat, the other major impact of the Doldrums Corridor on the race is that the chasing pack has now well and truly caught the leaders. Nikki Henderson of the fourth placed Visit Seattle explains: “Tactically it has been fascinating, and after the fleet split so wide in the first week, we have ended up with a very close race – almost a restart – at the Doldrums Corridor.


“Perhaps that doesn’t make for the most relaxing second half – but definitely an exciting one. There is everything to play for.”


Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch, who remains in the lead for the eleventh consecutive day, is also thinking ahead to what will happen after crossing the southern gate of the Doldrums Corridor, saying: “With almost no wind and glassy water, we experienced proper Doldrums conditions today.


“Almost the whole fleet is within the Doldrums Corridor now and soon we will see who gets out first to lead the new race to Punta del Este.”


After closing into 71.85 nautical miles of the lead and moving into sixth place, Skipper Conall Morrison says: “We are mentally preparing ourselves for the Atlantic Trade Winds Leg 1, Part 2.


“We feel that sometimes we aren’t able to match the boat speed of others around us, but a real positive is that we have been able to come back and close the gap to the leaders.”


In order to prepare for the ‘Atlantic Trade Winds Leg 1: Part 2’, the motoring teams have been busy with repairs and maintenance. Sanya Serenity Coast remains in second place for the second straight day, just 1.5nM ahead of the third placed GREAT Britain, after travelling 68nM overnight. Skipper Wendy Tuck comments: “It’s been busy in a slow sort of way in the last couple of days. Sails have been checked, lines have been checked, a trip up the rig was done, food inventory done, and the boat is sparkly clean.


“Now eagerly waiting for the latest weather to see what is in stall for us. I’m certainly ready to get racing again, but glad for the break we have had, we certainly didn’t get any wind.”


PSP Logistics, in ninth place behind Liverpool 2018 and Dare To Lead, has also been making most of the period of motor-sailing, with Skipper Roy Taylor explaining: “The watches have been rearranged to facilitate maximum rest before midnight on Saturday (when PSP Logistics can cross the Latitude 004 20.404N), and we have been conservative so far.


“But from midnight Saturday, we intend to hammer it for the final furlong and see what this boat and crew can do.”


Garmin remains in tenth place and Skipper Gaetan Thomas says: “We have a few things to check, clean, and to prep today, and using those light conditions to double check all the equipment and to recharge the batteries!”


A tight race is developing at the back of the fleet with Greenings taking eleventh place from Nasdaq. Relief Greenings Skipper and Deputy Race Director Dan Smith reports: “We’ve had a good days sailing despite being in an area of variable wind. This morning we were making great speeds in a southerly direction towards the Doldrums Corridor.


“After lunch, we had a brief period sailing with the Yankee and worked on the ‘three essentials’ of yacht racing. If we can get them nailed, we will be the fastest boat in the fleet.”


With the southeast Trade Winds nearly upon the fleet, the ITCZ is forecasted to settle back south tomorrow, after following a northerly path today.