Clipper Race: Close in the Coral Sea

Published on January 24th, 2020

(January 24, 2020; Day 5) – It’s been steady weather conditions for the 11 teams in Race 6 of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race, with only a couple miles separating Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam and Qingdao at the top of the leaderboard.

Josh Stickland, Skipper of Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, reflects on the close racing: “So we have a friend (Qingdao) who has ended up sailing just ahead of us, they’re currently 1.1nm away (@0316UTC) and we’re both meandering through the Coral Sea swapping places like a double helix. They gain a little speed, we go a little higher and so on and so forth it goes.”

Qingdao Skipper Chris Brooks, reported: “We are in the middle of a wind hole and within a few hundred metres of Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam. We have just lost the wind and are currently doing less than one knot.”

He added: “The crew loved the bigger winds and being so close to Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam has been a hoot.”

With very little separating the entire fleet, the positions mid-table are continually changing. Visit Sanya, China has made an impressive leap into fourth position and is hot on the heels of the two race leaders.

Skipper Seumas Kellock, commented: “We have spent the day tacking on wind shifts and generally bumbling our way towards the start of the Doldrums Corridor. We had a couple of squalls pass close by us and as much as we wished they would pass overhead and give us some wind and a shower none of them did, until now.

“The horizon in front of us turned to a dark grey and the radar screen lit up read with the impending squall. It brought a perfect increase in wind up to 13knots firing on us in the right direction.”

With the weather conditions forecast to remain the same for the next few days, the tactical decisions taken now could well see an entirely different race leader in the coming few days.

Reports GoToBermuda Skipper David Wavy Immelman, “We have gone out on a bit of a limb and tacked away from the fleet. That is all I will say on the matter for now. However, the sailing last night was from one squall to another, we had loads of rain and plenty of wind for a bit then nothing, trim, trim, trim!

“Either way it has kept us on our toes… so, on we go, trying to find that extra little bit of wind that the others don’t have in order to do a little catch up before the doldrums.”

All skippers report that the crew are now settled into their racing roles and there has been praise as they battle with the torrid conditions on board. WTC Logistics Skipper Rich Gould commented: “The team are acclimatizing to life in the tropics, with everyone trying all sorts to help cope with the heat. The sound of bunk fans fills both accommodation corridors, the smell of sun cream fills the air at every watch change, the on watch pray that the low side remains in the shade.

“With the wind light, and the boat pretty flat, the galley now presents heat as its biggest challenge. Even now, with our baking being moved to the middle of the night to try and help manage the heat in the galley, it’s still pretty tough going for whomever is tasked with feeding the crew for the day.”

Each team has its own tactical plan set out and while all remain so close to one another, it’s impossible to lay a stake in the ground and choose a Race 6 winner this early on in the game. With everything to play for, whether it be Visit Sanya, China sailing in first position into their home port of Sanya or Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam becoming potential overall race leaders, the challenge is as hot as the weather!

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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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