Clipper Race: Underway in Coral Sea

Published on January 19th, 2016

(January 19, 2016) – Race 7 of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, The Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race, got underway at 0530 UTC (1530 Local) today, 19 January. The 4,310 nautical mile race had a Le Mans start approximately 100 nautical miles from Airlie Beach in the Coral Sea.

Duty Skipper Peter Thornton aboard GREAT Britain conducted the start which was held offshore to avoid the risk of racing through the coral reefs.

The Le Mans start requires all the boats to line up. If the Duty Skipper suspects that an unfair advantage is being obtained by any boat they will halt the start process and re-start the sequence.

The procedure uses the standard Clipper start countdown of 10 min, 4 min, 1 min, Start.

Prior to the 10 minute signal all boats have their mainsails hoisted. Headsails hanked on, halyards and sheets attached, but NOT hoisted.

All boats motor slowly (speed set by the Duty Skipper), approximately 2 to 3 boat lengths apart in a line abreast on a pre-arranged heading. This heading is usually towards the finish.

Once the fleet is in a line abreast, the lead skipper signals the 10 minute gun via VHF on a pre-arranged channel. Engines shall be used to ensure that the boats are lined up accordingly (either reverse or forward).

At the 4 minute signal, all crew shall be aft of the forward coffee grinder. At the one minute signal, engines are to be turned off. Mainsails are trimmed to ensure the fleet stays in line. If the fleet drift out of line, the Duty Skipper can stop the sequence and start the process again.

At the start gun, the crew can move forward and the headsails can be hoisted. All boats must hold the agreed course and separation for the first 10 minutes after the start gun.

Skipper Peter Thornton reported: “We were all in position to start the race with a Le Mans procedure in good time. At 1530 local we were all lined up (pretty much) and started Race 7! When the 10 minute course and sail hold had passed, nearly all the fleet popped their kites to make ground north-east towards Papua New Guinea.”

The race to Da Nang is expected to take 31 days, with the fleet arrival window set for 17-21 February.

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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 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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