Clipper Race: It’s Complicated

Published on October 11th, 2015

(October 11, 2015; Race 2, Day 4) – The weather is set to be complicated over the next few days, creating the first major transition area of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, and some tactical dilemmas for the teams.

The eastern group of the fleet is about to sail into an area with a front just south of them and a potential area of light winds ahead of them as the South Atlantic High evolves as it moves across the South Atlantic.

The western pair, race leader Garmin and second-placed Derry~Londonderry~Doire, appear to have got away in time to likely stay ahead of the small low due to wander down the coast.

Diane Reid, the Skipper of ClipperTelemed+, in seventh place, explains more. “It’s not unusual for the high to split, however, the forecasting is showing that when it re-joins its traditional self, that it will be a bit lower than usual. This makes our strategy very interesting.

“Traditionally on this leg, one would hammer it south into 38S or 40S to pick up the westerlies and benefit from the great circle route of less distance west to east, then head north east’ish to get up to Cape Town at the last minute.

“However, we have this nifty split in the pressure systems with a solid front in between the two providing a north easterly flow of wind anywhere from 15 to 25 knots with the occasional gust of 30 in it.

“Depending on how well the prognosticating is with the GRIB files, this could be in place for another day or two before the St. Helena High re-establishes itself. Just on the south side of the front is some very disturbed or “cyclonic” air, meaning that it is coming from lots of different directions.

“This is also being driven by another low pressure system. We know that one system always drives another system and this is how the lows march their way around the Southern Ocean.

“It will be interesting to see how we can take advantage of riding the top side of the front while the rest of our fleet seem to be tucking into the middle of it,” Diane added.

The Skippers are also making their final decision as to whether they risk pushing for the Scoring Gate or not.

Huw Fernie, Skipper of eighth-placed Visit Seattle, said it was getting close to crunch time regarding the Scoring Gate.

“Do you go for the easy points a day and a half away or do you gamble with a short cut – missing the gate to get a better finish position in Cape Town? A lot can happen in ten days so having something in the bag is always nice.

“We have a plan for both options and are waiting on the latest weather file to come through before committing either way,” he added.


LMAX Exchange and Qingdao have restarted the race in a Le Mans start today at 0510 UTC following repairs to both boats after they ran aground in Rio. They will race on elapsed time.

LMAX Exchange and Qingdao’s start position was calculated to be exactly the same distance as the rest of the fleet and they will sail 3387 nautical miles.

Both boats had their rudders repaired and refitted after LMAX Exchange grounded on a sandy outcrop during delivery to a marina for application of hull branding last week. Qingdao got into difficulties while going to assist and got a line round her propeller.

Olivier Cardin, Skipper of LMAX Exchange, said prior to departing for Race 2: “We are leaving three days after the rest of the fleet so there’s some real motivation to do well. The crew always want to trim so I’m pretty confident that we’re going to record a good time across to Cape Town.”

Igor Gotlibovych, Skipper of Qingdao, added: “Race 2 will be very different from the last race. We can expect some real Southern Ocean conditions at times, we will be following the track of a Southern Atlantic depression all the way to Cape Town hopefully.

“As it transitions between the depressions it can be tricky with very variable conditions.

“The fact we’re leaving the same time as LMAX Exchange will give us that extra push but at the same time we are aware that we cannot control the weather that the other boats which are ahead of us are experiencing so we will focus initially on LMAX Exchange.”

LMAX Exchange and Qingdao currently sit in first and third positions in the overall standings and are motivated to build on their strong start to this race series. it will see an exciting match race unfold between the two teams, believed to be one of the longest on record since the tea Clippers raced to London from China in the 19th century.

All positions correct as of 0900UTC.

Event WebsiteStandingsTeam ReportsFacebook

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 second leg started October 7 and takes the fleet 3387 nm from Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town, South Africa. The fleet is due into Cape Town between October 21 and 25 and will be berthed at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront until October 31.

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.


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