Clipper Race Begins Final Leg to London
Published on July 28th, 2016
(July 28, 2016) – The finale of global circumnavigation the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, Race 14 from Den Helder to London, has started from Den Helder in The Netherlands.
After a Departure Ceremony from Willemsoord Marina and a Parade of Sail in the presence of Dutch Royal Navy ship ZrMs Luymes, the fleet started the final short sprint to London off the Dutch coast.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire was first over the start line, followed by Garmin second and Qingdao in third, with teams flying spinnakers in around 5 to 6 knots of breeze.
The 198 nautical mile race to London is going to be one of the most nail-biting yet with just six points separating the top two teams when there are still twelve points up for grabs.
LMAX Exchange, Skippered by Frenchman Olivier Cardin, leads with 142 points vs Scottish Skipper Dan Smith’s Derry~Londonderry~Doire team on 136 points. Both teams have had four penalty points each. However Dan’s team has picked up 20 bonus Scoring Gate and Ocean Sprint points vs Olivier’s 17 bonus points.
Ahead of the race finale, Stephen O’Connor, a round the world crew member on board LMAX Exchange, said nothing was going to stop the team winning.
“Everyone in the team is very positive. We believe it is ours to lose now. We are out to win, nothing is going to stop us apart from a calamity. We are not over-complacent. We recognise Derry~Londonderry~Doire is a very good boat but for us to lose this now at this stage would be devastating.
“This race has pushed me physically and emotionally in more ways than I could have imagined before we set off. I am incredibly proud to go home to my home city and see all my friends and family and arriving in St Katharine Docks in London on Saturday will be the culmination of a lifetime goal,” Stephen added.
David Mercer, the CEO of the Team’s Sponsor LMAX Exchange, a British-owned financial technology (fintech) company, said after 40,000 miles it’s still all to play for and the company was on tenterhooks back at its HQ.
“Derry~Londonderry~Doire has shown its strength over the last half of this Clipper Race epic and it’s sure to be an exciting finish to what has been an inspiring and arduous race.
“We have faith in our skipper Olivier Cardin to get back to his match racing roots and ensure that we protect our six-point margin in this last sprint for glory. The team have bonded incredibly well over the last 11 months and I know they will give it their all.
“May the best boat win. I wish all the intrepid sailors Godspeed, fair winds and look forward to welcoming them all home safely at St Katharine Docks on Saturday,” David added.
The whole fleet is engaged in various battles for vital points, whether for podium places, the top half of the leaderboard or individual places further down.
Race Director Justin Taylor said Race 14 is in effect a coastal race sprint: “This race will be extremely tactical as we have a classic North Sea forecast with a moderate south west breeze and of course the tidal influence, especially on the eastern coast of the UK.
“It will predominantly be an upwind race which will encompass a fair amount of intensity to the navigational hazards that will be encountered, including large volumes of commercial shipping, oil rigs and shifting sandbanks.
“Out of three options we have selected a length of route which will ensure the fleet finishes sometime on Friday afternoon/evening. This decision has been taken to take account of the expected prevailing weather conditions and will allow the Skippers and crew some rest before the Parade of Sail and entry into Saint Katharine Docks starting from Southend (at 0330UTC / 0430 BST) on Saturday morning.”
The route for Race 14 exits the Marsdiep via the main channel and heads south of the TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) off the Island of Texel and then turns west across the North Sea towards the east coast of the UK (near Great Yarmouth).
After a turning mark, they will head south towards the Thames Estuary before rounding a final turning mark and proceeding through two mandatory gates (King’s Channel Gate and Warp Gate) and then onto the Race finish.
The race will finish between the mast on Southend Pier and the mast of a Clipper 68 which will be anchored at the south end of the finish line.
A Parade of Sail will then take place on the River Thames on Saturday morning (July 30), culminating in Tower Bridge lifting for the teams before a prizegiving ceremony on the stage at St Katharine Docks by Tower Bridge.
“The most exciting battle is for first and second with just six points separating them,” added Justin Taylor. “Derry~Londonderry~Doire needs a very good result and LMAX Exchange a very bad one, so I expect classic race tactics with Olivier covering Dan move-for-move throughout the entire race.”
LMAX Exchange skipper Olivier Cardin claimed he is confident of holding onto the lead: “Six points is not too much, but it is enough if we do not make a mistake. I will not be far from him; it’s part of the game…It will be intense.”
Dan Smith said the whole crew aboard Derry~Londonderry~Doire are going all out to win: “At this stage we’ve got nothing to lose; six points isn’t a lot and in yacht racing things break, things can go wrong, anything can happen so we’ll be pushing hard. There’s a lot of boats on very close points so a lot of them will be pushing very hard. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of sleep on any of the boats. It’s going to be a race right to the end.”
Similarly in third and fourth places respectively are GREAT Britain, aiming to hold onto its podium place, and Garmin, also separated by six points.
Fifth to eighth places are all tied on 72 points for ClipperTelemed+, Da Nang – Viet Nam, Qingdao and Mission Performance. Visit Seattle sits in ninth place with 65 points, Unicef in 10th with 61 points, and the final two just one point apart in eleventh and twelfth: PSP Logistics on 47 points and IchorCoal on 46 points.
In the event of a tie, the number of highest finishes in previous races will determine the order.
To see all the details and timings for the London Race Finish and Parade of Sail on the River Thames, click here.
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 July 30.
Source: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race