Clipper Race: Deep in the Doldrums

Published on September 6th, 2017

(September 6, 2017; Day 17) – Most of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race teams are now within the Doldrums Corridor which is making for some interesting tactical decisions. Qingdao still leads the fleet with Sanya Serenity Coast up to second place and GREAT Britain not far behind in third.

Skipper of Qingdao, Chris Kobusch, reports: “The past 24 hours have been pretty uneventful. We are sailing through the Doldrums Corridor at a steady course and speed in somehow steady winds (who would have thought!?). The majority of the fleet has entered the corridor and it seems it has split into two groups – one going east, one going west. We will see in a few days which tactic pays off.”

All of the teams that have crossed the northern gate have now either started motoring, or informed the Clipper Race Office of their intention to start motoring, according the Doldrums Corridor Rule. Some teams are using this section of the race to reflect on the challenge ahead and to maximise the chance of rest while not under sail.

Wendy Tuck, Skipper of second-placed Sanya Serenity Coast, said: “The planning for the last part of this race has started, there is still a long way to go and anything can happen as it usually does in a yacht race.”

Although most teams are now under motor, the Clipper Race crew are aware of the changeable conditions in the Doldrums. Skipper of third-placed GREAT Britain, Andy Burns, explains: “The Doldrums is hot and packed with variable wind conditions to navigate around. The crew are ever ready for the next squall or rain storm which often brings some well overdue wind and a free fresh water shower.”

Not far behind the top three are Visit Seattle, Unicef and in fourth, fifth and sixth place respectively, who are also now motoring after entering the Doldrums Corridor. Conall Morrison, Skipper of reports: “We elected to use our motor soon afterwards. We plan to use the time (60 hours) of motoring to go through a few maintenance tasks and give the good ship a good clean.”

At the time of writing, Liverpool 2018 and PSP Logistics have informed the Clipper Race Office of their intention to motor and are currently in seventh and ninth place, with Dare To Lead currently sitting between the two teams in eighth place.

Other teams yet to enter the Doldrums Corridor include Garmin, currently in tenth place. Skipper Gaëtan Thomas reports: “One more [gybe] to go to be able to pass through the Doldrums Corridor. It nearly looks a kind of inshore racing to reach that virtual mark of the Doldrums Corridor northern gate. The last 24 hours have been quite quick (with some surfs over 17-18kts) and playing with massive wind shifts.”

Nasdaq, currently in eleventh place, diverted to the Cape Verde Islands yesterday evening to medevac a crew member as a safety caution. Skipper, Rob Graham, whose team has re-joined the race, reported last night: “The procedure went smoothly and we have now seen David off to hospital and completed the necessary formalities. We are now heading back to the position where we ceased racing in order to re-start racing as soon as possible.”

In twelfth place, Greenings has made progress in catching up with the fleet following its own diversion to Porto earlier in the race. Interim Skipper, Dan Smith, says: “We have now gybed towards the Doldrums Corridor and we are making good speed. I know the forecast in front looks terrible but I can’t help but hope today’s will be better than yesterday’s and we will be able to sneak into the Doldrums Corridor and motor south ready to keep fighting to catch up with the fleet.”

Clipper Race Meteorologist, Simon Rowell reports that it has been a busy time in the tropical Atlantic and the depression that’s heading off to the west, and will miss the fleet, has been upgraded to Tropical Storm Jose. Although the fleet in the Doldrums is currently under motor, it is expected that the southern-most boats will start seeing the first dribbles of wind from the south west quite soon.

The 12 teams started the 6,400 nm leg from Liverpool, UK to Punta del Este, Uruguay on August 20, which is expected to take approximately 35 days to complete, making it the longest ever in the race’s 21-year history.

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Background: Held biennially, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race got underway August 20 for the fleet of twelve identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. The 40,000 nm course is divided into 13 individual races with the team having the best cumulative score winning the Clipper Race Trophy. Each team is led by a professional skipper with an all-amateur crew that signs up for one, some, or all the races. The 2017-18 race, expected to take 11 months, has attracted 712 people representing 41 nationalities, making it the largest to date.

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Source: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race


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