Clipper Race: Testing crew’s patience

Published on January 22nd, 2020

(January 22, 2020; Day 3) – The Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race fleet has made its way through the Great Barrier Reef as they navigate away from Australia and start Race 6, the 4380 nautical mile route to China with the first stop being Sanya.

The fleet has taken part in a Le Mans Race Start which took place at 0700LT (2100UTC). Imagine Your Korea’s Skipper Rob Graham who was the Race Officer for the Le Mans start states that there was a “good clean start by all eleven boats, Punta del Este and Imagine your Korea did well in the center and Visit Sanya, China and Qingdao did the best either side. Everybody was holding a south tack for the moment but heading up to close-hauled.”

So, what is a Le Mans start? Essentially all 11 of the fleet were lined up under engines with their mainsails raised and their headsails ready to go. Upon Race Start, the fleet can proceed forward raising their headsails and it is a rolling start.

Without doubt, the sense of occasion and sight of the Le Mans start was admired. WTC Logistics Skipper, Rich Gould says: “A Le Mans start is certainly an impressive sight, with whole fleet all raising head sails at the same time, the sound of 22 sails being raised and many winches spinning filling the air.”

Currently sitting in the lead on the Clipper Race Viewer, is Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, with WTC Logistics and Seattle currently in second and third place respectively.

Some of the teams looked to utilize their extra (and unexpected) day in port with some additional training. Unicef, Imagine Your Korea and Seattle both opted to undertake some additional training.

At this early stage, all crew members are observing the other boats tactics with interest. However, the weather conditions continue to frustrate the crew. Imagine Your Korea’s AQP Sam says: In these conditions there is no way out, other than to keep making the best of what little puffs you can find. This can be frustrating and tiring in a way that heavy weather sailing is not.”

The delay to the start of the race provided ample opportunity for some fleet members to improve their skills. For new crew members that joined the race in the Whitsundays, this has been an intriguing introduction to ocean racing. Their fellow crew members have been quick to impart their knowledge on to the ‘newbies’.The hot and heavy weather conditions do not make for the most comfortable of passages. Qingdao’s Skipper, Chris Brooks reveals that: “It has been a tough day under the scorching sun. There have been very light winds and half of us have fallen into a wind hole.”

Unicef’s Skipper Ian Wiggin is in agreement. He says: “The going has been slow – we have only managed 8 miles as the crow (seagull??) flies in the past 7 hours – but we are right back amongst the fleet. It is a real chess match at the moment, as we fight quite a strong current and some very changeable light winds which seem to be both conspiring to drive us south at the moment and undo all those hard fought gains of this morning. The forecast is for more of the same over the next 48 hours or so, so our resolve, patience and determination will be tested to the full.”


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Delayed: Originally scheduled to begin on January 18, Leg 5/Race 6 – a 4280 nautical mile race from the Whitsundays, Australia to Sanya, China – was postponed twice, initially due to watermaker issues on three boats and then because of light winds. The 11 teams finally got underway January 22.

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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