Clipper Race: The ending could be cruel

Published on October 7th, 2019

(October 7, 2019; Race 2, Day 22) – Having dominated the fleet along the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race course from Portugal to Uruguay, race leader Visit Sanya, China has gone into Stealth Mode, a tactic each team can use on each race to hide from public view for 24 hours.

While the Race Office is aware of the yacht’s position and in constant contact with those on board, the team in Stealth Mode will be invisible to all other Clipper Race teams out of AIS range and to the public. With less than 1,000 nautical miles to go until the finish in Punta del Este, Visit Sanya went into Stealth Mode at 0610 UTC this morning.

Visit Sanya has been first on the leaderboard for the past 16 days, though in the 24 hours leading up to the team going into Stealth, the second placed Qingdao narrowed the gap to just 16nm. And with just a week of racing remaining, the two parted ways tactically yesterday, with Visit Sanya heading west closer to Brazil, and Qingdao heading southeast, further offshore.

Visit Sanya Skipper Seumas Kellock says: “Today has been an extremely varied day on board. We swapped from the Code 2 Spinnaker to our smaller and stronger Code 3 Spinnaker as the wind was forecast to increase as the morning came. Sure enough it did increase, but well past the 21-23 knots that was forecast, all the way up to 30+ knots – we were flying along. We hit our top boat speed this race at 21.1 knots as the boat flew off the top of a wave and surfed down into the trough.

“This weather front that has been forecast is well and truly over us now with winds down to 5 knots or so. We’re making best speed towards Punta del Este and are ready for the stronger winds that lie on the other side of this weather front. Ever hoping that our decision to stay west against our rivals Qingdao’s decision to go south pays off in the long run.”

Qingdao has also hit the wind hole, as Skipper Chris Brooks explains: “With two converging and opposed wind directions, there left a huge wedge shaped void in the breeze in a north-south fashion protruding from the land. Having a typical wedge shape and as such having a thin end, we opted to head offshore to cross this thinner band of light variable winds, rather than the thicker part.

“But we had lighter pressure offshore all day and now it seems our thin end of the wedge isn’t so thin. I can only hope that now we haven’t lost too many miles to the great Visit Sanya in the process and allowed [the third placed] Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam to coast back into the race.”

The wind holes around Punta del Este are also causing headaches for those further back in the fleet. Mark Burkes, Skipper of the eighth placed WTC Logistics, comments: “It is quite possible for us to pick up Unicef or Zhuhai as the airs become light and variable or, alternatively, for GoToBermuda or Imagine your Korea to quickly catch us if we ‘park up’ in such a wind hole.

“After several thousands of miles, to win or lose time so late in the game seems cruel, but we all suspected that this last 1,000 nautical miles and the approach to Uruguay could be challenging tactically and it looks likely to fulfill its promise.”

To follow the ETA for when the fleet is due to arrive into Punta del Este, click here.

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.

Race detailsSkipper listRace routeTrackerFacebook

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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