Clipper Race: Time will tell

Published on January 8th, 2020

(January 8, 2020; Day 17) – There’s about 400 nautical miles to go until the first yacht of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race crosses the line of Race 5, with strategies to catch the best winds and avoid catching the East Australian Current continuing to unfold, and it will soon become clearer which teams’ routes have worked out best.

Currently set to arrive second into the Whitsundays is debut Korean team entry, Imagine your Korea. Skipper Rob Graham reports: “The plan was to put some slow eastward miles in early to position ourselves to take advantage of the opportunity when it arises. I love it when a plan comes together! Now we need to just keep on swimming, swimming, swimming through the final stage to Airlie Beach.”

Reflecting on the routing decisions where the teams have calculated, taken a shot at what they feel best with the hope that Mother Nature is on their side, Skipper of Zhuhai Nick Leggatt said: “Well done to the boats that stuck to their guns offshore, even when we were running nicely downwind in the counter-current along the shore! When the wind did finally shut down on us it did so properly!

“Qingdao were rapidly heading for the same situation as us but tacked off, despite making massive losses due to the current. Now the race is down to a match race between us and Qingdao to see which solution works out. In hindsight, we came too far inshore for too long and now cannot cross the current without losing even more, so we need to continue working along the coast, making miles when we can.”

Also feeling the effects of the opposing currents along the stretch, Visit Sanya, China’s Skipper, reports: “The breeze has been up and down from highs of 20 knots to lows of 8 meaning our progress hasn’t always been great but were making good progress north and towards the gold coast as well.

“Since discovering how unkind this East Australian Current can be, with a couple of foul tacks we have modified our plan in order to make the best time to the next mark.”

Hiding from view are GoToBermuda and Punta del Este who are currently using the Stealth Mode tactic, reappearing at 0000UTC on January 9 and today at 1200UTC, respectively. Also declared they wish to opt for the same is Imagine your Korea and Qingdao – their positions will be last shown at 1200UTC today before they reappear 24 hours later.

The first team is expected to arrive in the early hours of January 10.

For the estimated arrival times of the fleet, click here.


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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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