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Clipper Race: Hello, my name is SQUALL

Published on September 27th, 2019

(September 27, 2019; Race 2, Day 12) – It has been a humid, rainy day for the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race fleet, with all 11 teams now deep into the Doldrums Corridor. And whilst the conditions of the region normally paints a picture of calm seas and sun, the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) has thrown up some surprises for the crew.

Seattle is the only team not to have taken advantage of the Doldrums Corridor rule, which allows the engine to be used for a maximum of six degrees of latitude during a 60 hour period.

Seattle Skipper Ben Keitch reports: “We’ve had a bit of everything since yesterday. Swirly squalls that send our Windex spinning 360 degrees. No wind. Then wind from every quarter. First nothing, then 6 knots, then 16, then 22 knots! Then rain, reducing our world to nothing more than a white mass of sea just visible at the end of the bow, and driving icy particles in our faces.”

It was a similar story on WTC Logistics, with Skipper Mark Burkes sharing: “We had our first BIG rain squall yesterday afternoon with a sustained 25 – 30 knots and torrential rain for about 90 minutes, which drove us west at 9 knots before we could tack. Ana Quintas, drenched through in shorts and t-shirt, turned to me halfway through our reef and shouted back to me, ‘So THIS is a squall?!’. I had been warning them for so long I think it was a relief for them to finally get one!”

There has been a silver lining to the squalls, as Punta del Este Skipper Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez explains: “The warm rain came in and we all showered on deck singing and dancing. Having our first shower for the last two weeks, we gave it our all; shampoos, shower gels and even conditioners. We felt like a million dollars!”

A tight race continues at the front of the pack. Visit Sanya, China has stretched its lead to around 50 nm, but there is nothing in it between Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam and Qingdao, in second and third respectively. With the end of the Doldrums Corridor looming, those in the top half of the leaderboard are keeping a watchful eye on the paths chosen by the chasing yachts.

Unicef Skipper Ian Wiggin says: “The boats that started motoring behind us will be charging up at 6 knots and we will have to fight really hard, in what look like light and fickle winds, to stay ahead.

“There looks like there should be enough breeze to keep us interested and make progress down to the bottom of the corridor, where the proper Trade Winds should kick in and drive us southwards, so fingers crossed.”

The Trade Winds should arrive right on schedule according to Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell, who reports that the South East Trade Winds are due to make it up to 08N over the next 48 hours, meaning the teams should have no problems exiting the Doldrums when it is time to switch the engines off.

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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