Clipper Race: Snakes and ladders
Published on January 3rd, 2020
(January 3, 2020; Day 12) – As predicted, the high pressure system, light winds, and East Australian Current in Race 5 have shaken up the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race leaderboard.
“Well we are a lot happier on board, there is finally wind!” exclaimed Josh Stickland, Skipper of Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, having navigated the wind hole best, carving out a 55nm lead over now second placed Imagine your Korea.
In the last 24 hours, Qingdao and WTC Logistics to the east of the leading pack, have both made gains, whereas GoToBermuda and Zhuhai, opting to head further inshore with the hope of sailing around the edge of the wind hole, have slipped down to fourth and fifth respectively.
Qingdao skipper, Chris Brooks reflected: “The high pressure system has brought everyone back together and slowed progress for many on the sprint. It will realign the fleet in such a way that it’s almost a completely new race start. The fleet is spread finely across an east-west divide. North and south, there is now only tens of miles between us and the fleet.
“At this stage even suggesting something as broadly as which side of the course would be favoured in terms of pressure is an assumption too far. It’s obviously a very complicated system right now to predict.”
Across the fleet, teams have been working hard to try an eek out every knot of boat speed. Guy Waites, Skipper of Dare To Lead, said: “The 300 nautical mile game of snakes and ladders has begun with a little bit of everything but not a lot of wind.
“In the past 24 hours, we have sailed every upwind and downwind angle either port or starboard, Windseeker, Code 1, Yankee 1 and Staysail from zero to fifteen knots. The team have responded well to the challenges of light wind sailing with a ‘heavy’ emphasis on weight distribution, mostly low side!”
The leaders also need to keep an eye on Punta del Este, Visit Sanya, China, and Unicef. As the race is being run on elapsed time, they will need to factor in the 48 hours difference in start times.
Punta del Este has already overtaken Dare To Lead and in the middle in the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint, is extremely determined, with Skipper of Punta del Este, Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez, reporting: “We are a crew motivated and hungry to do well.
“Everybody is working hard and ready to give the extra mile for the greater good. The fleet leaders are getting closer and closer, we are in a hunting mood! Really challenging conditions, including against sea currents, variable wind, marine traffic and reefs which will with no doubt bring great tactical choices across the fleet.”
Which team will win the game of snakes and ladders? With 1000nm to the finish much can change in the thrill of offshore racing.
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