Clipper Race: Back to business

Published on December 27th, 2019

(December 27, 2019; Day 5) – With the seasonal celebrations behind them, the 11 teams in the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race are returning to a more typical standard of life on the ocean. Most teams have experienced the change in predicted weather conditions, and with no clear established front-runner as only 104nm separates the top 5 teams, it’s all to play for in Race 5.

Across the fleet, Skippers have reported that new crew members are firmly settling into their respective watch systems with positive results. Skipper Rob Graham of Imagine your Korea said: “Once the front passed, the sky cleared, the wind settled in the west and our spinnaker went up at first light this morning, in a hoist straight out of the textbook. It was so good that a passing whale spouted a couple of times in admiration!”

Similarly WTC Logistics Skipper, Rich Gould is embracing the change in weather and seems to be getting his Christmas wish from Santa, saying: “Goosebumps, hairs standing up on the back of your neck, a funny feeling in your sailing boots, today is what offshore sailing is all about. Wind on the quarter, just the right amount of breeze, following swell, sun in the sky and the kite up! This really is brochure stuff, relatively flat boat, great boat speed, and almost 100% VMG.”

Meanwhile for GoToBermuda Skipper David (Wavy) Immelman has been thinking tactically about the best course for his team saying: “We found on our port gybe the sea state was really horrible and on starboard we were too tight for a kite… But we want to go south, all these decisions! We have finally opted for a beam reach south with white sail doing about 12 knots and surfing up to 16’s while getting the angle we wanted south. Let’s see how we do versus the rest.”

It appears their decision making is paying off as GoToBermuda currently leads the fleet with Seattle in second and Zhuhai in third.

The three teams that set off 48hrs behind the fleet are closing in on the eight boats in the front pack and only 167nm separates them. Visit Sanya, China has been looking at the race positions but remain focused on the scoring gate opportunity with Skipper Seumas Kellock remarking: “What a beautiful day today, the sun is out, the wind is behind us and were steaming towards the scoring gate.

“We are heading for the scoring gate and I am hopeful that we will pick up some points as well, it will be great to put more points on the board after the last leg of zero points. Time will tell as to whether it is two or three points, we are currently in a close run race between us and Punta del Este.”

With the fleet compressing, and the added element of racing on elapsed time, on account of three yachts starting 48hrs behind the rest of the fleet (see below), the unveiling of the podium finishers in Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, will be fascinating and we continue to follow this race to its exciting conclusion.


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Eight of the 11 teams set off on December 22 for the Leg 4/Race 5 of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race, which takes the fleet 3415nm from Fremantle, Australia to The Whitsundays, Australia. The absence of three teams was due to their delay in Leg 3/Race 4 (see below) with issues requiring them to return to port, finally finishing between December 19 and 20. The three remaining teams will begin Leg 4/Race 5 on December 24. The eleven teams are expected to arrive at the Whitsundays between January 9 and 12.

Delayed: After starting Leg 3/Race 4 from Cape Town, South Africa on November 17, Unicef diverted course on November 22 to Durban for crew member Andrew Toms to disembark and receive medical treatment for a suspected appendicitis, with the team returning to the race on November 27. They finished in Fremantle, Australia on December 20 (12:24 UTC).

Collision: Punta del Este and Visit Sanya, China were in Cape Town, South Africa for repair after an incident at the start of Race 4 on November 17 resulted in significant damage. Their race finally got underway on November 28, finishing in Fremantle, Australia on December 19 (07:50 UTC) and December 20 (03:11 UTC), respectively. A review of the facts found Sanya, China to be at fault after a clear breach of the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) 10 ‘On Opposite Tacks’. Details.

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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