Clipper Race: Baptism by Fire
Published on September 4th, 2019
(September 4, 2019, Day 3) – The realities of ocean racing are quickly becoming apparent to the 2019-20 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race crew as the fleet battles upwind on the opening race from London to Portimão in Portugal.
The tough, wet conditions are proving a steep learning curve for the crew, though across the board, the Skippers have been full of admiration for how these non-professional sailors are handling their baptism by fire.
Guy Waites says of his team on Dare To Lead: “The crew are coping enormously well considering the onslaught, life at a steep angle, managing Dare To Lead, and catering for our food and liquid requirements. We worked hard during the night and progress is good. No lack of spirit aboard.”
After the second night of racing, Go To Bermuda and Unicef are neck and neck on top of the leaderboard after turning south overnight. Unicef Skipper Ian Wiggin comments: “The wind was great – 15 knots from the west – which allowed us to keep training our upwind helmsmen while the tactical battle took off.
“We rounded the end of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) exclusion zone off Eastbourne and were allowed full range of the Channel to play in. We headed south, towards Cherbourg, and it paid dividends, as we had ground out a small lead as the fleet came together off Lyme Bay.
“More beating upwind is expected today as the crew continue to grapple with the twin challenges of racing a 70 foot yacht whilst learning to live on top of one another at 35 degrees, with stuff flying everywhere and with most of their dry clothes now soaking wet.”
Qingdao, who set the pace for much of the first 24 hours, is on the hunt to regain the top spot in the standings. Skipper Chris Brooks reports: “We ran as much sail as we could throughout the night. Tough onboard and pushing really hard. Daylight graced us with the opportunity to settle the boat down again and lift the spirits of the crew. They are not professional sailors although they have been working with all the enthusiasm and hard work of such.”
Punta del Este has alone decided to follow the rhumb line and Skipper Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez says: “We continue our way west. The wind has been increasing to 34 knots with tide against wind; let’s say the sea is lively.
“The crew has experienced their first deck wash waves, getting everyone wet. We are committed to go along the north coast of France, let’s see in the next 12 hours if this pays off.”
The Clipper Race fleet is expected to arrive into Portimão between September 8-10 and will be berthed at the beautiful Marina de Portimão.
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