Clipper Race: Shuffling the deck
Published on February 12th, 2020
(February 12, 2020; Day 24) – The path to success is never smooth, and thus is the case in the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race as the eventual champion of Race 6 will need to navigate through the difficult, fickle weather conditions in the final 200 nautical miles to the finish line in Subic Bay, Philippines.
Expect more changes in the leaderboard for the next 24 hours as only 12nm separates sixth place from the team in first with the leaders engulfed in a wind hole.
For now, Visit Sanya, China leads the pack, with WTC Logistics in second, and previous leader Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam slipping to third. The two front runners have opted for an inshore route and appear to be benefiting from more favorable wind speeds, enabling them to overtake the Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam and Qingdao who so far dominated in Race 6.
Speculations could be made that Qingdao is playing the long game, keeping its position on the overall standings in mind, when choosing tactically to cover close rivals Ha Long Bay Vietnam in the final stages.
“We were lucky to find a little breeze throughout the night which defied all the forecasters,” said Qingdao Skipper Chris Brooks. “This allowed us to catch up with Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam. Unfortunately, the rest of the fleet sailed into the position where we entered the wind hole, with good pressure and we are all now within just a few miles of each other with no real discernible or predictable advantage anywhere on the race course.”
WTC Logistics Skipper Rich Gould commented on his team’s performance and the tricky conditions they’re facing: “Yesterday saw us make some great gains on the boats ahead of us, as we charged across the Luzon strait, still flying the chicken chute.
“The gains we made were due to a lack of wind that slowed down the front of the fleet, but now we are on the opposite side of that situation, floundering around in the lack of wind, and I’m sure the boats behind us, to the north of Luzon will be chewing the miles up.”
Unicef opted to go into Stealth Mode with the intention of racing past it’s immediate competitors Zhuhai and Dare To Lead. Skipper Ian Wiggin commented: “The final 300nm is going to be a test. I am sure chess will be a feature on board to keep our minds stimulated. Much like the board game, we are hoping for a bit of luck and an opportunity to find a way to salvage a few extra points from this race.”
With the pack leaders battling the weather conditions as well as each other, perhaps Unicef’s decision to go into Stealth Mode could allow them to overtake more than their immediate competitors.
The race is set to go down to the wire, with the leaders now not expected to arrive until February 14. 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