Clipper Race: Pursuing the equator

Published on September 26th, 2019

(September 26, 2019; Race 2, Day 11) – With all eleven Clipper 70s now within the Doldrums Corridor and free of the tropical storm Lorenzo, the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race fleet is taking the opportunity for essential maintenance and housekeeping, while the crews use the calm sea state as a chance to recuperate and enjoy dining al fresco.

For the Skippers, while it is a tedious part of the race, it has provided an opportunity to recharge and plan tactics ahead of returning to life at an angle, a prospect some are very keen to get back to.

GoToBermuda’s Skipper, David Immelman describes the recent conditions: “A slow morning from us. It was a difficult day yesterday as the tropical storm, Lorenzo, pulled away earlier than originally forecast. It left us with a very bumpy sea and a dwindling wind trying to make the Doldrums Corridor. Well, we managed it and then watched our wind disappear even faster. So last night we started our motor, and while slow and boring, it’s all part of this race.”

The rules in the Doldrums Corridor allow teams to elect to motor-sail for exactly 6 degrees of latitude and for a maximum of 60 hours to move the fleet through the fickle winds of this notorious region.

With no change at the top of the leaderboard, Visit Sanya, China is currently in first place as the fleet edge closer to the finish in Punta del Este, Uruguay. They are followed very closely behind by Qingdao which is hoping to gain points in the race by using the ‘Joker’ and Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam.

The Joker option means that any race points earned will be doubled, meaning a potential 22 points are on offer if Qingdao wins the race.

Skipper of Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam,Josh Stickland comments: “We are still in third for now, I wish we could have opened up a little bit of a bigger gap against the fleet behind us, but as Jacqueline would say ‘it is, what it is, so it is’ (it’s taken me ages to get that memorized). We have gone down to half watches for this motoring part of the passage, in the hope that the crew get some well earned rest.”

With the exception of Zhuhai and Seattle, all the teams have either commenced motoring or given the Race Office their intention to motor as per the Doldrums Corridor Rule. AQP on board Seattle, Ineke Van Der Weijden describes the tactical conundrum: “The weather forecasts haven’t exactly been very stable lately. So on Seattle we have been going back and forth on if to motor, when to motor, where to motor. As I am sure is the case on all other boats.”

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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