Clipper Race Skipper, Daniel Smith’s thoughts on sailing around the world

Derry~Londonderry~Doire skipper Daniel Smith recently got in contact to talk about the Clipper Race, how it unfolded, his favorite moments as well as other interesting insights. Being a professional skipper on board a Clipper 70 Yacht isn’t for the faint-hearted. It means being responsible for a conveyor belt crew made up of raw novices who lack real experience on the water.

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Trying to win this race which spans 14 individual races across 8 legs, covering every corner of the globe isn’t an easy task. Daniel Smith and his crew on board the Derry~Londonderry~Doire finished in 2nd place overall out of 12 evenly matched Clipper 70 yachts. After such a grueling race, we were of course interested to know his thoughts. Was he hungry for more or was it more of a once in a lifetime chance? Read on below for his views on the last year on board.

We saw a tough race with some grueling legs. What are your overall feelings on the race?

It was hard work but very rewarding. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

What was the toughest Leg for you personally?

I struggled in hot weather and light winds so Seattle to New York was probably the hardest and most frustrating.

Which Leg did you perform best in?

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We won into Da Nang in Vietnam, Qingdao in China, Seattle USA and London so I’d say they were the best results. 

Clipper Race is an amateur race with a professional mind-set. How did your average Joes perform in comparison to a crew of professional caliber?

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I’d say some were performing on the same level as the pros, pushing the boat hard and racing it well while a few others were on the boat to have sailed across a sea or ocean. They all played their part in our success though.

What tactics did you employ during the event to leapfrog your competitors?

We just kept pushing and working hard even when others were out of sight. We also tended to carry lots of sail downwind.

Which team made the most audacious route choice during the race? Did it work out for them?

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LMAX Exchange were always experimenting when they were not in the lead. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t but good boat speed always gave them more options.

What was the main use of TIMEZERO software during the race?

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It had several. I used it for weather, for routing, for planning and nav.

Did you trust in the Weather Routing Module?

We worked hard on our polars and it usually gave us good results. I never fully trust any software I use and always checked its plan. It was obviously only as good as the weather forecast it received so in some parts of the world we did ignore it.

Did the AIS tool help when in busy shipping lanes?

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Yes, this was used for tracking competitors and collision avoidance.

How did the fleet position impact your choices? Did you ever decide to take a riskier strategy?

Yes, we were certainly playing it safe when at the front and taking risks when near the back.

Do you currently use and would you recommend using TIMEZERO software for planning and during trips?

I don’t use it but would recommend it.

We have a new version of TIMEZERO v3 that is now available that increases security and safety by using a Safety Planning Feature to indicate whether your boat will safely pass over certain areas such as shoals and coastline, shipwreck, etc. Would this type of feature be useful during the planning phase of a race?

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Yes… It would be good if you could set depth limits and apply boundaries it would route around.

Now that you are firmly back on dry land, what are your plans for post Clipper Race? Will we see you for the next edition?
In October I’ll start work again at the Scottish National Sports Centre. Who knows what the future holds. As for the Clipper Race I doubt I’d do the whole race again but if asked I’d consider coming back as a skipper for individual legs.

 

TIMEZERO technology is the official on board software for the Clipper 2015-16 Race. It was on board each of the 12 competing Clipper 70 yachts as well as Position Reporting, a feature especially developed for racing to provide automatic boat position updates in order to provide almost real time insights into the position of the fleet. This is ideal for race management to track the fleet and also for the competitors to be able to make more informed tactical decisions. Added features are creating virtual gates and customizing yacht names and colors.

Find out if TZ Professional v3 is the right solution for you

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