Clipper Race: Beware of Mother Nature
Published on October 9th, 2019
(October 9, 2019; Race 2, Day 24) – The countdown clock on the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race is definitely ticking, with potentially less than 36 hours of racing to go before a winner is crowned in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
Less than 500 nautical miles of the 5,196nm race across the Atlantic Ocean remain for the leaders, Visit Sanya, China and Qingdao. And after 24 days of racing, just 1nm separates the two teams, who are currently expected to arrive in two days.
But, as the teams know all too well from the light wind shutdown in the final stages of Race 1 from the UK to Portugal, Mother Nature always has a few tricks up her sleeve. The wind holes in the final stretch to Uruguay are continuing to cause problems, with Qingdao covering only 26nm to Visit Sanya’s 42nm in the last 12 hours of racing.
Qingdao Skipper Chris Brooks explains: “We played the last shutdown very well, choosing an offshore passage to find a thin edge of the wedge of low wind. It cost many miles but we were largely unaffected by the shut down, slowing down for just a couple of hours and never really stopping which took us into first place.
“It looked like the offshore route was going to continue to pay and so we kept our separation from the rhumb line. If you were to believe the interpretation of the GRIB, we would have expected that Visit Sanya would be slower than us in this last day too and moving in through the night, but at last look on the update, they are sailing and we haven’t moved in three watches now.”
Stealth Mode, a tactic which allows a team to disappear from public view for 24 hours, remains popular across the fleet, with three teams – Dare To Lead, Seattle, and WTC Logistics – currently hidden to all but the Clipper Race Office.
Seattle will be the first of the three to reappear on the Clipper Race Viewer at 1155 UTC today, though the team can’t quite hide from the yachts nearby. The fourth and fifth placed Unicef and Zhuhai are at present just 5nm apart, and are both keeping an eye on Seattle.
Zhuhai Skipper Nick Leggatt reports: “No sooner had I finished writing the blog than the wind immediately shifted nearly 180 degrees and we had to drop the spinnaker quickly. Not only did it shift dramatically, but it also quickly died away to almost nothing, allowing Unicef to gain a few miles on us.
“After that it was a cat-and-mouse game for a couple of hours, as each boat tried to scamper from the effects of one cloud to the next in an effort to reach the southeast wind on the other side of the frontal system, most of the time in heavy rain which later gave way to a constant drizzle.
“At present, Unicef remains slightly ahead of us and Seattle just behind, but we have some thoughts on how to get further ahead while transiting the high pressure ridge. Light wind forecasts are notoriously unreliable, so it remains to be seen how our strategy will work out.”
Keep an eye on the Clipper Race Viewer to see where Seattle pops up out of Stealth Mode and how the rest of the fleet fares in the final sprint to Punta del Este.
Arrival times are expected between October 11 and 15. To follow the ETA for the fleet, 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.
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