Clipper Race: Approaching the Doldrums
Published on September 13th, 2015
(September 13, 2015; Race 1, Day 13) – The conditions at the front of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet have become more tropical with lots of squall activity as the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), known as the Doldrums amongst sailors, approaches, with the monsoon trough having widened dramatically all the way across the Atlantic.
The ITCZ is a low pressure belt near the equator where the northeast and southeast Trade Winds come together creating extremely light airs and leader LMAX Exchange sailed through squalls overnight, changing from a lightweight spinnaker to Yankee 1, in the approaches to the ‘Doldrums Corridor’ which is marked on the Race Viewer.
Approximately 150 nautical miles behind are teams GREAT Britain and Derry~Londonderry~Doire, having gained two and one point respectively at the Scoring Gate on Saturday afternoon, following a fight for the remaining points.
GREAT Britain Skipper Peter Thornton said: “It came down to an intense battle with Derry~Londonderry~Doire – careful helming, gybing and no mistakes to get the two Scoring Gate points.”
The racing rules have introduced a method for avoiding the fleet being trapped for many days in the ITCZ, as happened in the previous edition of the Clipper Race.
When the teams reach the ‘Doldrums Corridor’, which has the four virtual waypoints, Doldrums Corridor NW, Doldrums Corridor NE, Doldrums Corridor SW and Doldrums Corridor SE at each corner, each yacht will be allowed the use of its engine for a maximum of 6 degrees of latitude or an elapsed time of 60 hours, whichever occurs first.
All yachts must cease motor-sailing at 20N regardless of whether they have completed 6 degrees of latitude under engine or not.
However the fleet is dispersed over 1000 nautical miles now and there are many tactics still to be played out before it reaches the ITCZ. Tenth-placed Da Nang – Viet Nam Skipper Wendy Tuck described the last 24 hours on board in improving conditions: “Things are much nicer here on the mighty ‘Flo’ (the nickname for our yacht). After a very frustrating few days and a tough night, in the wee early hours of the morning we got breeze. It started with just some squally stuff, then turned into constant breeze. Happy days, it’s so nice to be moving and moving along well.
“We had our smallest spinnaker up, then a couple of hours later did a peel. This time round the world crew member Matt Ogg got to hang out on the sheet, changing the sheets in preparation of the hoisting of the new sail.”
The teams will need to be carefully monitoring weather over the coming days to ensure they put their yachts in the best position in the ITCZ to ensure the quickest passage possible.
All positions correct as of 1200 UTC.
Report by event media
Background: The 40,000 mile Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race began in London, UK on August 30 for the fleet of twelve identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. The series is divided into 16 individual races, with the team with the best cumulative score winning the Clipper Race Trophy. Each team is led by a professional skipper with an all-amateur crew.
The teams are on the first leg from London, England to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The ports along the race route are Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Cape Town, South Africa; Albany, Sydney, Hobart and Airlie Beach, Australia; Da Nang, Vietnam; Qingdao, China; Seattle, USA; Panama; New York, USA; Derry-Londonderry, Ireland; and Den Helder, Netherlands before returning to London by late July.