Clipper Race: Gybing along Africa

Published on September 20th, 2019

(September 20, 2019; Race 2, Day 5) – The Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race slides along the east of Western Sahara towards Cape Verde which has brought changeable conditions for the 11 teams; with steady trade winds carrying the fleet on, to sharp increases in wind and reports of sudden changes in wave direction.

For the crews this has tested their quick thinking and resulted in swift changes from their sail wardrobes, with Code 1 and Code 2 Spinnakers featuring heavily.

Currently leading the way towards Punta del Este, Seumas Kellock, Skipper on board Visit Sanya, China said: “Another cracking day under Code 2 Spinnaker. The wind has picked up a little since we’ve cleared the Canaries which has given us some surfs up to 15-16 knots, always followed by some whooping from on deck. It is great to see the crew all getting excited about sailing fast!

“Not only have we been sailing fast but the crew have been nailing these gybes, pulling them off without a hitch, people even getting up from their 8 hours of sleep to help (now that’s teamwork).”

The Chinese team are closely followed by Dare To Lead and Qingdao.

Mike Surridge, Skipper on Imagine your Korea who are sitting around the middle of the pack, reports: “We had a great day sailing with some good positive winds fueling our progress steadily south. We ran most of the day with our Code 1 Spinnaker, but changed as we ran into the evening to a Code 2 Spinnaker.”

Dare To Lead Skipper, Guy Waites comments on the conditions: “The Trade Winds continue to blow consistently day and night. Some slight variation in wind angle and/or speed but otherwise the same hour after hour. Each day or night is punctuated with a gybe, closing or diverging with the African Continent, the funneling breeze inshore. Our incentive to dive back in, trading places with the usual suspects on the leaderboard as we go.”

Currently on the leaderboard in fifth place is Unicef who have not only have eyes on their competitors’ positions but also on the wildlife. Skipper Ian Wiggin reports: “So far we have seen a fin whale, some white-sided dolphins, many common dolphins – those stray cats of the sea – some turtles, some flying fish, a flying squid (that was dead on the deck, so may not count!), some mottled petrels, a manx shearwater and a small flock of storm petrels. Our eyes remain peeled, and our sharpies are poised over our whale watcher’s poster, as we try not to let racing interfere with our research!”

And where are Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam on the leaderboard? The team has chosen to appear in Stealth Mode, meaning their position is hidden from the other yachts and the Race Viewer so they can try out various tactical possibilities. While the public will be wondering where Ha Long, Bay Viet Nam is, the Race Office will be in contact with the team and aware of their position at all times.

This is the first time on the Clipper 2019-20 Race the tactic has come into play. All will be revealed as to how this has effected their performance and what decisions were made when they are visible again at 0600 UTC tomorrow morning, much to the relief of avid Race Viewer observers.

Picking up speed with a little healthy competition are GoToBermuda and Zhuhai, David Immelman, Skipper of GoToBermuda talks about how it is boosting the team’s enthusiasm: “I must admit when you are racing all alone, your concentration is never as heightened as when you can see your competition. It’s all just numbers on a screen. So, as I am sure Nick would agree, boats go faster when they are close racing together. Good for us and our crews as they get more used to the racing excitement and commitment.”

As the teams accelerate towards Cape Verde, keep an eye on all the tactical decisions made by the teams as they decide how to navigate best around or through the islands.

Race 2 began September 15 and will take the 11 teams along a 5195 nm course from Portimão, Portugal to Punta del Este, Uruguay, with their expected arrival between October 12 and 16.

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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.

Source: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

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