Clipper Race: Decisions, decisions
Published on February 10th, 2020
(February 10, 2020; Day 22) – Many of the 11 teams in the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race having now completed the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint, following the crossing most skippers have been pondering on their tactical decision making in Race 6.
Whether they opted for the most direct route or focused on their overall race position, how will that choice affect the leaderboard, as the fleet approaches the final stretches of the 4,000nm race to the Philippines?
“What a quick Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint that was,” says Seumas Kellock, Skipper of Visit Sanya, China currently in third. “Normally there is time to discuss the possible options, but we’ve crossed the sprint so fast we can’t even peruse the options. We did, however, go for the cross between fastest boat speed and shortest route. To see if it has paid off, we will have to wait until prizegiving in Subic Bay.”
Also pondering the results is Qingdao Skipper Chris Brooks who said: “We think we have a good time but, as importantly, we have managed to make miles on those behind and gain on Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam which is a real blessing. The biggest hurdle for all boats, and what may still cause upset throughout the fleet, is the wind hole between us and the finish in Subic Bay along the West coast of Luzon.”
With so little continuing to split the leaderboard, the forecast predicts a variety of conditions and potential for a period of light wind in the final stretch or Race 6. Clipper Race Meteorologist, and all round weather guru, Simon Rowell explains: “Today’s synoptic chart rather sums this leg’s weather up – you’ve got a tropical cyclone south of the Equator, definitely a summer feature, then a high off China pumping down a strong north easterly monsoon – definitely a winter feature.”
What will this mean for the fleet? Punta del Este Skipper, Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez says: “We have 150 nautical miles to the race course mark Infante on the Luzon Strait, where the currents are strong and when opposite to the wind they create a shaky sea state. From then around 400 nautical miles to Subic Bay, including strong down winds and very light winds soon after. Remember the more unpredictable and varied the weather, the more tactical the race becomes.”
The first teams are expected to arrive in Subic Bay on February 12. For finish ETAs, click here.
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