Clipper Race: Gunning for home plate
Published on January 9th, 2020
(January 9, 2020; Day 18) – While the leaders of Race 5 are looking to have just one more night before the finish in The Whitsundays, Australia, all the teams in the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race are seeking to maximize their course through adverse currents and shifting winds to put points up on the leaderboard.
“It’s a busy night for the crew, but I am proud to say each change went off flawlessly and at speed as well,” reports Skipper of GoToBermuda, David Immelman. “Now we are making our way around the next current of Fraser Island and then we head for the first of our gates. Let’s hope the wind holds.”
Reflecting on the tough sea state, as experienced by all the teams, Rich Gould Skipper of WTC Logistics said: “We have broken free of the most challenging part of the East Australian current and some of the frustrations we had with the current and the light winds over the previous 48 hours are already fading, our milestone of reaching our waypoint ‘Home Run Start’ caused an outbreak of morale.”
After making great time up Australia’s east coast, Punta del Este have fallen into the halting conditions which have caught much of the fleet on the route to the tropics.
“After watching the rest of the fleet going from windhole to windhole during the last few days, this morning was our turn to get stuck into a blackhole with no wind, just when we needed it the most to cross an area of strong currents,” shared Punta del Este Skipper Jeronimo Santos-Gonzalez.
“We started the night flying at 10 knots of speed and a near full moon flat waters on the Australian Gold coast. Sweet sailing for hours and hours, feeling the satisfaction of meeting our daily targets and getting closer to achieving the top position by the end of the leg.
“When in a wind hole, we had two options; change direction, change sails, move crew around, cursing something, and shout ‘why us?’ or the other option; to tighten the sails throw the fishing rod and wait for the wind to arrive. Obviously we chose the first one and after a lot of effort we ended where we started four hours earlier, next time we’ll think again!”
Also feeling frustration with the challenging stretch of water, combined with the lack of wind is Visit Sanya, China. Skipper Seumas Kellock comments: “We are progressively tacking our way northward towards the top of Fraser Island, so far we have made 20 tacks since we approached the coast with another load of tacks to come. This combined with potentially very light winds, makes for some frustrating progress.”
Qingdao continue to keep its competitive spirit going, sailing fast to try and overtake those close to them: “We took a ‘round the outside’ route to avoid the windholes. We did encounter several ourselves, but probably made up the distance it took at slightly better speed. It’s not been a blaze of glory comeback, not the consistent 11 knots I’d hoped for, but I think we are ahead of two with a possible third boat in sight.”
Unicef are enjoying the benefit of watching and learning from the rest of the fleet, with Skipper Ian Wiggan commenting: “Inside the Great Barrier Reef, the forecast for the Coral Sea looks like a perfect spinnaker run. Again, the path will have been trail blazed up the Queensland coast for us by the front 8 yachts so we will be able to pick out the fastest route ….hopefully.”
Dare to Lead are currently in Stealth Mode, along with Imagine your Korea and Qingdao. Skipper of the team, Guy Waites reports: “We’ve made some significant ground along this tactical East Coast of Australia, our game of snakes and ladders has been one predominantly of ladders, the snakes appear to have slithered west.
“From here on in we will converge as a fleet towards the first of a series of mandatory gates between Australia and the Great Barrier Reef less than 300 miles away.
“The breeze is stable but not excessive; just enough to keep us moving as we tease out every tenth of a knot of boat speed before our cover is exposed, magically reappearing before you, and hopefully somewhere further up the leaderboard?!”
We will see when their position becomes visible again at 1800UTC today. Track Imagine your Korea again and see how Qingdao have got on whilst sneaking up the coast, attempting to climb the leaderboard at 1200UTC today. Seattle are also taking a final punt with the invisibility tactic, opting to go into Stealth Mode at 1200UTC today.
For the estimated arrival times of the fleet, click here.
Race details – Skipper list – Race route – Tracker – Facebook
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