Punta del Este wins Clipper Race opener
Published on September 9th, 2019
Portimão, Portugal (September 9, 2019) – After starting September 2 from the Thames Estuary off London, Punta del Este claimed the win in the opening race of the 2019-20 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Despite being as low as sixth in the standings earlier in the day, Spanish Skipper Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez used his local knowledge and, along with his crew, navigated the light winds off Portugal with precision to claim victory today over the 1195 nm course at 00:45:22 UTC.
“This has been a lesson in land-sea breezes,” notes race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. “As the land cools off at night, the water remains warm. So you are looking for that breeze that develops between the land and the sea. It probably goes out a couple of miles, but it’s well worth looking for. And that’s obviously what the winning boat found. They came creeping by, inside the others, and here they are in first place.”
It has been an incredibly successful race overall for Punta del Este. As well as the eleven points for the win, the team will also add three bonus points to its overall tally after setting the fastest time in the Ocean Sprint.
“It has been a bit of a challenging one but it feels amazing,” shared Gonzalez. “My team has worked so hard and I am just ecstatic, just over the moon. I think the moment was when we went through Finisterre. We pushed ourselves so hard day and night, day and night. We won the Ocean Sprint and that kept us motivated and focused.”
Another team that saw success in the light conditions was Dare To Lead, who snared second place after finishing one hour and three seconds behind Punta del Este at 01:45:25 UTC.
Dare To Lead Skipper Guy Waites said: “It was a long, long slog today. Definitely felt like the longest day of the whole week. It was a great effort by the team and my mate Hugues was fantastic as well. We put a huge amount of effort in for the finish and second place is very much deserved.”
Despite leading for much of the race, Qingdao had to settle for third place after falling victim to the dying breeze off the southern coast of Portugal.
Skipper Chris Brooks said: “It was epic, hard work. We tried everything we could and it was just mother nature in the end that didn’t allow it to happen. It’s great to come third, I think it is a good foundation for Qingdao to go off and win the race.”
But while Qingdao missed out on the win, the team is still looking very good in the standings. As well as collecting nine race points for third, Qingdao also earned three bonus points in Race 1 after being the first team across the Scoring Gate.
Skipper Chris added: “Having been the first boat to score points in the race and now coming second overall, we just want to work on that and improve it and be first by the time we arrive in Punta del Este!”
The next stop after Portimão is the Uruguayan city, Punta del Este, with the start on September 15 to launch the 11 teams on the 5195 nm leg. After crossing their first ocean of the circumnavigation – the North Atlantic – the teams are due to arrive in the ‘St Tropez of South America’ between the 12th and 15th of October.
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.
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.