Clipper Race: Settling in
Published on September 3rd, 2019
(September 3, 2019, Day 2) – The first stage of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race officially started yesterday in the Thames Estuary. Dare To Lead was the first team to hoist its spinnaker and had it flying as they charged for the line in the closing minutes leading up to Race Start which took place very close to Southend Pier.
Taking the honor of being the first to cross the start line of Race 1 was Qingdao, skippered by Southend local Chris Brooks, who maximized home waters to his advantage. Dare To Lead crossed in second position, narrowly followed by Unicef in third.
The conditions were as expected, with 10 – 12 knots (Force 3-4), from the west-south-west, a flat sea and beautiful sunshine warming the day. The breeze was stable giving a great downwind start and increased very steadily as time went on. Lessening the effect of the beginnings of the spring flood tide against the fleet at the start this, however, would only strengthen as they headed out into the Thames Estuary towards the east horizon.
Clipper Race Director, Mark Light, who oversaw Race Start said: “All yachts got away well and made a magnificent sight as they stretched out to the east with their spinnakers flying silhouetted against the brilliant sunshine.”
Racing remained tight with the Qingdao team managing to maintain a slim lead of a couple of nautical miles between themselves and the chasing pack. Qingdao Skipper, Chris Brooks, reported: “The crew perfectly correlated to achieve the plan. The idea was to time race start perfectly to hoist the Spinnaker and pull into the lead.
“We led all the way to the South East where the wind died. It was painful to watch as five yachts came through inside us with pressure as we wallowed in self pity and lifeless air.”
The fleet compressed as it reached Margate, with positions changing frequently in the fickle winds. Guy Waites, Skipper of Dare To Lead noted: “We could have taken down each others sails let alone our own we were so close by!”
However, it wasn’t long though until the wind filled in, south southwest, for an upwind beat in shore along the English southeast coast. Zhuhai Skipper, Nick Leggatt, said: “We settled into our first night with a reefed Main, Staysail and Yankee 2, as we faced the prospect of a lot of tacking through the Straits of Dover and down towards Beachy Head.
“A tiring night, and some battered and bruised bodies at the end of it, but the day has just dawned with the Zhuhai still in second place as we round Beachy Head and continue down the English Channel.”
The Clipper 2019-20 Race Route:
The eleven teams began the circumnavigation at St Katharine Docks on 1 September 2019, racing from London, UK, to Portimão, Portugal; across the Atlantic to Punta del Este, Uruguay; the South Atlantic to Cape Town, South Africa; across the Southern Ocean’s Roaring Forties to Fremantle, Western Australia; around to the Whitsundays on the east coast of Australia, back into the Northern Hemisphere to China where teams will race to Qingdao, via Sanya and Zhuhai; across the mighty North Pacific to Seattle, USA; to New York via the famous Panama Canal; to Bermuda and then it’s a final Atlantic crossing to Derry-Londonderry; before arriving back to London as fully proven ocean racers.
About the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race:
The Clipper Race was established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-69. His aim was to allow anyone, regardless of previous sailing experience, the chance to embrace the thrill of ocean racing; it is the only event of its kind for amateur sailors.
Around 40 per cent of crew are novices and have never sailed before starting a comprehensive training program ahead of their adventure. Some will choose to take on the whole circumnavigation while others will compete in one or more of eight individual legs.
The overall route is split into a series of global races and a maximum 11 points going to first place ascending to one point for eleventh place. The team with the highest cumulative points at the end of the final race wins the series, and the Clipper Race trophy.
Source: Event Media