Harken Derm

Clipper Race: Riding the 40 ton surfboard

Published on September 6th, 2019

(September 6, 2019, Day 5) – The eleven Clipper Race teams enjoyed a real thrill-ride in the early days of the 2019-20 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race as they zoomed through the start of the Ocean Sprint.

Wind speeds of over 40 knots with a swell of over four meters made for some of the most exhilarating downwind conditions that the professional skippers, and their non-professional crews, have faced.

Speaking from on board this morning, Chris Brooks, Skipper of Qingdao, currently chasing race leaders Unicef, said: “The conditions of Finisterre were phenomenal! Surfing up to 26.5 knots with non-professional crews and helms. Absolutely fantastic. These guys never cease to impress, taking each problem within their stride.

“The surfing at constant 25 knots for some time was some of the best sailing I’ve done, ever.”

The speedy conditions are likely to provide some very close Ocean Sprint results once all times have been collected by the Race Office. The Ocean Sprint is a time trial between two lines of longitude or two lines of latitude. The fastest three teams gain extra race points (three for first, two for second and one for third).

Said Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam skipper Josh Stickland, “My, my…Tony, Tony, Tony (Castro), what a machine you have built!

“We have been skimming for the last four to five hours with our speed now averaging 14-15 knots surfing across and down waves! I myself am a keen surfer and for anyone else who is, it’s the closest I feel like dropping in on a wave – only my surfboard weighs 40 tons!”

After leaving London on September 1, the race officially began from the Thames Estuary on September 2. The first race is to the Algarve town of Portimão, Portugal after which the teams will race thirty days to Punta del Este, Uruguay.

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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.

Held biennially, the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race gets underway September 1 for the fleet of eleven identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. This 12th edition has attracted 688 crew representing 43 nationalities for the 41,000+ nm course. The race finishes on August 8.

The course is divided into 8 legs and 15 individual races, with some of the crew in for the entire circumnavigation while others will do individual legs. The team having the best cumulative score over the entire course will win the Clipper Race Trophy.

The Clipper 2019-20 Race Route:
The fleet departs 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 in Northern Ireland; before arriving back to London as fully proven ocean racers.

 

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