Clipper Race: Too close to call
Published on October 11th, 2019
(October 11, 2019; Race 2, Day 26) – After over 5,000 nautical miles of racing, the winner of the second race of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race to Punta del Este, Uruguay, is expected to be decided today. But who will the winner be, Qingdao or Visit Sanya, China?
With less than 80 nautical miles to the finish line, Qingdao has extended its lead to 14nm over the second placed Visit Sanya, setting up a nail-biting finish to the race across the Atlantic Ocean.
As just hours remain in the race, both teams are doing everything possible to increase boat speed. Visit Sanya Skipper Seumas Kellock said: “We had had a good night under the Code 2 Spinnaker and made great miles towards the finish. Then, as forecast, the wind slowly but surely eased and eased and eased.
“Then came the time for us to test out almost all our sails. Within 2 to 3 hours, we went from Code 2 to Yankee 1 and Staysail, then to Windseeker, then moving onto Code 1, all the while being baffled by Qingdao’s seemingly out of this world speed (only 7 knots, but when we were doing 3 knots, it looks really fast).”
Whilst the top two spots are likely to be decided today, the majority of other positions in Race 2 are all still to play for. Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam is in third place for the fourteenth consecutive day and has an 84nm lead over the fourth placed Dare To Lead. But the forecast could change that.
Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam Skipper Josh Stickland: “My First Mate Hugo and I are scratching our heads a little trying to work out the best way to negotiate the wind hole that will engulf us in the coming 24 hours, so as you sit down to your lunch today, please think of us as we frantically change from sail to sail, eeking out as much speed out of this little boat.”
The fight for fifth is also heating up. Currently, there is just 23nm between the fifth placed Zhuhai and Unicef in seventh, with Seattle in sixth. And with the wind building, resulting in boat speeds in the double digits, the crew are being put through their paces.
Zhuhai Skipper Nick Leggatt reported: “The wind had built to near gale force, with much stronger gusts, rough seas and short, steep waves. In the darkness of the night, Zhuhai came thundering down one of the waves as the wave crest broke, spinning her broadside to the wind in a classic broach.
“She lay almost on her beam ends with sails flapping for what seemed an eternity. The crew handled the situation very well, dumping the vang to depower the Mainsail and tending the sheets until Zhuhai righted herself and sped down the next wave at over 19 knots.
“But, by then I had decided that discretion is really the better part of valour and called for a sail change. It was never going to be easy in the prevailing conditions, but when the spinnaker tack failed to trip at the required moment during the sail change, things really did get a bit spicy on deck for a while.
“All credit to the crew for getting an interesting situation under control in the darkness of the night during a gale, and then simply commenting “Code 2 down, Yankee 1 up”, as if nothing untoward had happened.”
WTC Logistics, currently in ninth and hot on the heels of Punta del Este, reported similar conditions.
Skipper Mark Bukes said: “We are barreling along, having changed our Code 2 Spinnaker for our Code 3 Spinnaker about two hours ago as the wind increased and the sea state built, suggesting the GRIBs forecasting 30 knots were accurate.
“Boat speed has rarely dipped below 13 knots, with 18 knots the fastest so far with true wind at 28 knots and the boat bucking and kicking along.
“Our foray south seems to have done us well, but everyone is now going quickly, so whilst the miles to finish fall quickly, we know everyone will be pushing hard.”
Who will win Race 2?
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.
Race details – Skipper list – Race route – Tracker – Facebook
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