Clipper Race: Smooth sailing to Tasmania

Published on December 28th, 2019

(December 28, 2019; Day 6) – The fifth race of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race has the majority of the fleet surfing their way east, towards Tasmania within close proximity of one another.

The sixth day of racing has been backed by favourable conditions, whilst lighter winds have proved trying for some as the team’s positions are continually changing in the race around the Australian coast line.

The smooth sailing conditions, whilst challenging, can provide the new crew with a good opportunity to gain some valuable technical sailing experience. On board Seattle, currently placed seventh, Skipper David Hartshorn has had the new crew members helming under a starry night, until the stars disappeared.

“Within a few hours there was 8/8 cloud cover, not a single reference point to help guide, noted Hartshorn. “Then the wind began to veer, and continued to veer, so to ensure we didn’t head towards St Georgia, we need to gybe. In the dark, first Spinnaker gybe, what could possibly go wrong? Well nothing actually. ‘SeaHawks’ conducted it with textbook precision, and I was really impressed and then we making excellent progress to Tasmania and clear of the emerging high pressure to the north.”

On board Dare To Lead, currently positioned the furthest north of the fleet, Skipper Guy Waites comments: “It’s blue sky surfing weather, champagne yachting and Tasmania our target 960 nautical miles dead ahead. If we can get there earlier than the weather routing suggests, we can turn the corner, miss the worst of the weather and celebrate New Year on the East Tasman Plateau.”

Whilst Skipper of WTC Logistics, Rich Gould remarked: “These sort of conditions is why I love the ocean sailing, this is the stuff that makes all the bashing up wind with an almost non-existent VMG (Velocity Made Good) worth it, our Code 2 is still flying, as is Black Betty.”

Whilst the smooth conditions are favorable for a while, the light winds can prove frustrating.

Unicef Skipper, Ian Wiggin reports: “Our current course and speed is frustrating at present. We should have stronger winds and a more favourable wind direction later in the day if we keep heading South. Our current course is about 170 degrees which would ironically take us to ‘Cape Goodenough’ – in Antarctica! This is a long race, but we are in a hurry to get around the bottom of Tasmania before the light wind re-establishes and the door shuts.”

Currently top of the leaderboard is Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam. Skipper Josh Stickland said: “A day or so ago, I said that I was very much looking forward to going surfing, well, unfortunately in order to surf we need waves and currently its a fairly flat sea state.”

Chris Brooks, Skipper of Qingdao has questioned their tactical race decisions, saying: “Hopefully we can close down some gaps with Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam and GoToBermuda. Trouble is, their early right-hander saw them in more pressure, and they are now flying along at well over 12 and 13 knots whilst we remain pushing 11.”

Current second place holders GoToBurmuda were blessed with some unexpected company, Skipper David Wavy Immelman reported: “As we were busy eating our lovely eggs, a pod of Killer Whales come to give us a visit. Some off at a distance, maybe 500m, but one adventurous big girl came and appeared about 2m off our starboard beam. Gave us a quick look and disappeared. She was beautiful.”


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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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