Clipper Race: Welcome to Roaring Forties

Published on November 22nd, 2019

(November 22, 2019; Day 5) – Qingdao has taken over the role of frontrunner from Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam in the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race as the teams are beginning to feel the Roaring Forties effect; racing in fast, albeit bitterly cold conditions.

Skipper of Qingdao, Chris Brooks reports: “We’ve had some plain sailing conditions throughout the night and yesterday. The red and gold laced dragon has awoken and is coming for Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, as if it were a frightened one-handed Jamie Lannister (for those of you that watched Game of Thrones). Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam is due north of us and the race is very much on.”

Without all the focus being on their immediate competition, Chris continued: “The rest of the fleet is sporadic but various options will become available so we must not forget them. We will keep an eye out for their tactics.”

Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam’s Skipper Josh Stickland reports: “Well, it’s felt like the Roaring Forties today; grey sky, rainy and a dark sea. In the early hours of the morning, we got our Code 3 up, but had to bring it down due to broaching too many times, and we want to keep our Code 3 kite in some sort of working order so down she came and onto white sails. Then, guess who pops up on AIS? (a boat tracking system) …the red dragon!”

Climbing the leaderboard is Imagine your Korea which is currently chasing the top two, in third place, under the leadership of Skipper Dan Smith.

“Yesterday, we had a fantastic sail under Code 2 Spinnaker,” said Smith. “After an exciting hoist, which could have gone either way, we spent a few hours hanging on with long surfs at over 20 knots, with the whole watch working hard to keep things under control. We swapped watches, giving the other team a crack at it. Both watches were working fantastically.”

Reports from on board the yachts have been mixed; ranging from frustration to joy. Skipper Mark Burkes on board WTC Logistics reports: “On the sailing front, it’s been frustrating, light airs and lumpy seas with gusts has been the order of the evening.”

In contrast to “a beautiful and fast day”, as reported by Guy Waites, Skipper of Dare To Lead and “Another fun-filled day at sea. The weather has been from a really great 30 knots NW, to a lighter SW and everything in between,” said Skipper David Immelman of GoToBermuda.

The majority of the racing fleet has reported extremely cold conditions, making night sailing a particular endurance test of its own.

On board Zhuhai, Skipper Nick Leggatt reports: “The air temperature also decreased very suddenly. Interestingly, this also occurred three hours after passing the latitude of 40 degrees south, which meant that we are now in the infamous zone of the Roaring Forties, which is notorious for being particularly cold, windy and rainy. So far, it is doing a pretty good job of living up to its reputation!”

Whilst the fleet push forwards on the race to Fremantle, Unicef has stopped racing and is heading towards Durban, South Africa, due to a crew member, Andrew Toms, suffering from suspected appendicitis. The team is currently 615nm from Durban and has a decent wind angle to make fast progress, with an estimated arrival during the evening of November 24. For the update, click here.

Collision: Punta del Este and Visit Sanya, China remain in Cape Town for repair after an incident at the start of Race 4 resulted in significant damage. After a review of the facts, Sanya, China was deemed to be at fault after a clear breach of the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) 10 ‘On Opposite Tacks’. Details.


The 11 teams set off on November 17 for the Leg 3/Race 4 of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race, which takes the fleet 4750nm from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle, Australia. The majority of the fleet is due to arrive in Cape Town between December 9 and 14.

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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