Clipper Race: Along the Western Sahara

Published on September 21st, 2019

(September 21, 2019; Race 2, Day 6) – Close match racing has been the order of the day as the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race continues to Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Incredibly after around 1,000 nautical miles of racing, three boats – GoToBermuda, Zhuhai, and WTC Logistics, have almost been in touching distance as they raced along the coast of Western Sahara.

GoToBermuda Skipper David Immelmann is relishing being up against his childhood friend and fellow Capetonian Nick Leggat on Zhuhai, and reported: “The little battle between Zhuhai and ourselves ended up in all out war this morning, with the two of us match racing a few metres apart.

“As I said yesterday, not an inch given and not an inch taken, and well it got worse. A good few hours, which the crews were loving. Reach up to cover, bear away, back up… great fun. Not much has changed and we are reaching next to each other again. “Nick made a good gybe and pulled a bit out but not for long – Nick we are coming! I have had to add a new standing order, ‘watch Zhuhai like a hawk’.”

WTC Logistics turned the two-horse race into a battle royale shortly after sunset, and Zhuhai Skipper Nick Legget commented: “Towards sunset, the African coastline became clearly visible off our port bow as the wind began to back more towards the north. We put in a quick gybe as the wind shifted and took GoToBermuda by surprise, finally overtaking them as the sun dipped below the horizon.

“As the darkness set in, another light appeared to starboard. This turned out to be WTC Logistics, who passed close astern of us and then gybed onto our track. For some time, all three boats followed the same path through the night with no more than 5 nautical miles separating us. Great racing!”

GotoBermuda and WTC Logistics both gybed south shortly before daybreak to put some distance between the three teams but no doubt the close contest has reinvigorated all on board.

Elsewhere, the conditions have been ideal for the Clipper 70s and Punta del Este Skipper Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez said: “Today has been a day of surfing wave after wave along the coast of Africa. Sailing on 18 knots of wind and doing 16.5 knots of speed is pretty rewarding and it has all been due to surfing waves.

“The conditions were perfect, the right amount of wind with the right angle of waves. Surfing waves on a boat is no different from a surfer catching waves, apart from the 43 tonnes difference.”

Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam has reappeared from Stealth Mode but the decision to go off the grid for 24 hours didn’t have quite the result the team was hoping for. Skipper Josh Stickland reports: “So we went into Stealth Mode only for us to bump into Qingdao 12 hours later. But had a little chat with Chris and Rhiannon and we are now half a mile behind them and gaining.

“It’s all getting very tense with five to six boats all in the running for the Scoring Gate and I can see and feel the competitiveness of the crew coming out, which is nice to see.”

Despite being dogged by Qingdao, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam did emerge from Stealth Mode in third place. The second placed Qingdao will go into Stealth Mode at 1200 UTC, meaning they will not be visible on the Race Viewer for 24 hours to anyone besides the Race Office.

With Qingdao currently only 10nm behind Visit Sanya, China, will the tactical move accelerate them into first place as the fleet edges closer to the Scoring Gate?

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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