Clipper Race: Messy winds ahead

Published on September 7th, 2019

(September 7, 2019, Day 6) – Big winds and surfing conditions continued into the first Ocean Sprint of the 2019-20 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Skippers reported boat speed records being broken with Nick Leggatt, Skipper of Zhuhai, saying: “We were still under reefed Main and Yankee 2 at the time, running downwind in a gale. Almost as soon as I took the helm, the boat pitched her bow down a steep wave and launched herself to a speed of 28.9 knots. A new record for the Zhuhai team.”

The Ocean Sprint, a time trial between two lines of longitude or two lines of latitude, is an opportunity for teams to gain extra race points. The fastest yacht, which will add three bonus points to its overall tally, was Punta del Este which completed the sprint in 15hrs, 2mins and 26secs.

Second fastest was Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, taking 15hrs, 51mins and 4secs, giving the crew two bonus points, while scooping the final bonus point, in a time of 15hrs, 53mins, was Zhuhai which will be adding to the point they already claimed from the Scoring Gate.

Leaderboard positions have changed again with Qingdao back in first, Unicef holding second, and GoToBermuda in third. And with the weather conditions changing rapidly, and a light wind area expected directly off the land, it is all still to play for.

Simon Rowell, Clipper Race Meteorologist reports: “There are two winds combining near Cape St Vincent right now, the first the North (ish) that the fleet has been experiencing so far, and the second the North East off the top of Africa. In between the two is a rather messy merging zone, which is where a lot of the fleet is right now.

“With the light wind areas directly off the land, it’s a head-out-of-boat day for sure today to look for patches of breeze.”

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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