Clipper Race: No inch to give
Published on February 7th, 2020
(February 7, 2020; Day 19) – The fleet in the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race has traveled some 3,000 nautical miles since leaving the Whitsundays, many of the teams are still racing remarkably close in as the trade winds power the 11 teams toward the northern tip of the Philippines.
Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam remains in the lead, charging towards the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint with a 72 nautical mile edge on the following teams as they scramble for the top positions on the leaderboard approaching the ‘1,000 nautical miles to go’ mark.
Competition is close for the four teams below first place and all are vying for the important podium positions with a close match race evolving between Punta del Este and Qingdao.
Skipper of Punta del Este, Jeronimo Santos-Gonzalez reports: “After racing for over two thousand miles on Leg 5 (Race 6), we find ourselves fighting neck to neck with Qingdao for the last 24h. It is a game of hunting whoever is in front of you, trying everything on the book to overtake them.
“At this stage of the race every boat is going really fast and every nautical mile needs to be fought with sweat and lots of grinding. No-one is giving an inch for free and this race is going to be a close one, with some strong winds and wind holes predicted there is a chance for everyone to do well.”
Qingdao skipper, Chris Brooks commented on the rivalry with Punta del Este saying: “Another epic day in the close fought battle between Qingdao, Imagine your Korea, Punta del Este, and Visit Sanya, China for the second step of the podium. We are currently set neck and neck with Punta del Este who has edged just slightly ahead. Our lead fluctuates with the breeze between 0.5 and 1 nautical mile. It’s the edge of your seat, seat of your pants racing.”
Dare To Lead also send reports of a close race, between them and Zhuhai, the teams are currently in ninth and eighth place respectively. Skipper Guy Waites of Dare To Lead says: “It’s a constant round of one step forward, one step back with our partner in crime Zhuhai; as we continue to exchange places day and night. There is no doubt about it, we both benefit from one another’s presence, match racing day and night keeping both teams focused and engaged every minute of every watch.”
Adding to the mix is Unicef who are hoping to avoid the forecasted wind holes and skip ahead of those to the north of them. Skipper Ian Wiggin said: “Over the next few days our wind angle is going to become less favourable as the wind is forecast to come behind us, so we will be looking to manage that. Our immediate race is with Dare to Lead and Zhuhai who are to the south of us. Long term, the final 300nm will be very exciting and hopefully we will not fall prey to another wind hole.”
On board Seattle, Skipper David Hartshorn reports that not only is the competition between the fleet hotting up but also between his onboard crew: “We are still cracking along, we hit another 266nm miles run yesterday and the boat is hitting double figures almost constantly. The watches are getting competitive with each other, laying down challenges between themselves. The skill set is continually improving and the number of kite collapses has reduced significantly since we started.”
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.
Course change: The fifth leg was to be divided into three races (6, 7, 8), with the first race to finish in Sanya, China. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, a course change was enacted and the fleet will skip Sanya and now finish where the second race was to conclude in Subic Bay, Philippines.
Motoring: In case of light winds and slow progress within the defined Doldrums Corridor, teams on Race 6 had the option to use their motor for prescribed amount of time and distance. 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