Clipper Race: Preparing for change

Published on December 30th, 2019

(December 30, 2019; Day 8) – Change is afoot for the frontrunners in Race 5 of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race as Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, GoToBermuda, and Zhuhai are expecting to brunt the first of a cold front that is approaching the fleet.

“Somewhere very close by, in the grey murk, a cold front is creeping up on us” says Zhuhai Skipper Nick Leggatt.

Josh Stickland, Skipper of current race leader Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, reports: “Behind us there are some very angry clouds. A big dark grey front is approaching and it’s tantalizingly close – the barometer has been dropping as if it were located in the dive chamber in the bond film ‘The Living Daylights’ so it’s a case of Musto smocks and Marlow reefing lines at the ready!”

The rapidly falling barometer readings serve as a significant tell-tale sign to teams; it indicates that an area of low pressure area is displacing that of high pressure bringing with it stormy weather.

Towards the back of the fleet, and racing on elapsed time, the crew of Visit Sanya, China, is still enjoying some brighter conditions.

“This Southern Ocean is much nicer than the last Southern Ocean that’s for sure…or is that a stupid comment?” shared Skipper Seumas Kellock. “This one seems to have nice sunny days, consistent winds, and good average speeds for our racing machine. Sadly, compared to the front of the fleet, our angle towards the waypoint just south of Tasmania isn’t quite as good.”

Once the teams have negotiated the upcoming cold front, further change awaits the fleet as the next significant race milestone awaits – rounding Tasmania and turning north to race up the east coast of Australia.

Whilst this will be the final big race milestone before reaching The Whitsundays, the next Clipper Race Host Port, each of the eleven teams will have the East Australian Current to contend with, and watching how different tactical strategies play out will make for some gripping viewing.

Keep an eye on the race tracker to watch how the cold front affects the leaderboard and see how tactics play out at this pivotal moment on the race course.


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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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