Clipper Race: Waiting for the roar
Published on November 23rd, 2019
(November 23, 2019; Day 6) – The Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race teams are all within 280 nautical miles of each other as they power up towards the Scoring Gate through fast, cold conditions and an air of anticipation that the ‘Roaring Forties’ provides.
Qingdao continues to lead the pack and is gaining good speeds, not resting in the hope to stay in their position. Skipper Chris Brooks says: “Well, a rollercoaster ride this past night…the red and gold laced dragon has been soaring high and fast and all those that ride her have held on and fought hard to control the reins. Looking at the forecast for the next day or two she may even start breathing fire by tomorrow evening.”
Climbing the leaderboard and now in second place, Imagine your Korea’s Skipper Dan Smith reports: “We have experienced some fickle winds most of the day, lighter than forecast and fairly variable in direction, although not getting a rise in pressure to indicate that the ridge had caught us up.
“Frustratingly, the boats nearest didn’t appear to have experienced the same as us looking at the distances covered every six hours on the scheduled positions report. Thankfully, the wind has now kicked in and we are hitting speeds in the teens again under white sails, in the right direction.”
The fleet is now passing the 40 degrees south parallel, the line of latitude that marks the official start of the ‘Roaring Forties’. The Roaring Forties bring expectations of big surf and accelerated boat speeds.
Winds rage notoriously in this region as it sits in the transition zone between the more tranquil, balmy subtropics and the far colder polar vortex around the South Pole, and the winds are uninhibited due to the absence of continents or mountains that might slow them down.
Though, it seems that so far, the Roaring Forties has been kind to the teams that have dipped south. Seattle’s Skipper David Hartshorn commented: “The Roaring Forties have still yet to ‘roar’ at us, it’s been a pretty sunny, fairly flat sea state and light winds today, but cold.”
Elsewhere, good speeds have been the order of the day (and night) as Skipper of GotoBermuda, David Immelman reports: “We are still on a beam reach doing fairly good speeds, and then great speeds when a squall hits us. When I say great speeds, Damian van Spall, on the helm got a knock and a crash tack, followed by a 24 knot surf.
“We had a deck full of cheers and yelps, followed very closely by more cheers as we were surrounded by large pod of dolphins. Beautiful curious creatures that seem to be looking at us asking the question, what are you guys doing here?”
The fierce nature of the Southern latitudes is a testing experience for the non-professional crew on the race but Zhuhai’s Nick Leggatt commended crew member Rein Drescher in particular: “He has little sailing experience, but has taken to helming like a duck to water. Last night, the wind was shifty and gusty with an almost invisible horizon in the inky darkness, but he kept us speeding along nicely in all but the strongest gusts.”
The fleet has about 3400-3600 nautical miles to go before they reach the finish in Fremantle, Australia.
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.
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