Virus outbreak reroutes Clipper Race

Published on February 24th, 2020

Subic Bay, Philippines (February 24, 2020) – The start of Race 7 got underway today for the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race teams, with Punta del Este as the first team to cross the starting line closely followed by Visit Sanya, China with Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam in third position.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in China and subsequent quarantine imposed on travel from the country, the Clipper 2019-20 Race route had to be amended. Race 7 and 8, the two remaining races of Leg 5, have been combined to form one longer race of 8-10 days.

The new route for Race 7 will see the fleet head north from the Philippines, across the Luzon Strait and around the western most cluster of the Japanese Ryukyu Islands. The teams will then race downwind, east of Taiwan, and battle against the notorious Japan (Kuroshio) Current, which flows north and east of Taiwan, before heading back to Subic Bay.

It will be interesting to learn about the tactical decisions such as, which Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint will be chosen by the teams and how having two Scoring Gates to choose from will impact on the leaderboard. Watch this space!

The fleet sailed away from Subic Bay, racing downward wind surrounded by the ridge lines of the mountains enclosing the bay as a dramatic backdrop. The teams sailed out past the headlands, up the west coast of Luzon and will now navigate towards The Nancei Islands which are east of Taiwan.

At this early stage Qingdao, Punta del Este and Zhuhai lead the fleet.

Skipper of Punta del Este Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez says: “Race 7 has started with a bang with really challenging light wind conditions where every boat was overtaking each other. The idea was to find pockets of wind and gain those extra miles where the rest would be moving very slowly. Progress has been better than expected and with strong winds at the Luzon strait. This race is promising and so for it’s not disappointing.”

Commenting on the race conditions, Dare To Lead’s Skipper Guy Waites says: “No sooner have we commenced Race 7, than we have been given a stark reminder of the highs and lows of light wind sailing and all the pain and frustration that wind holes have to offer! Within the first 24 hours we’ve held and lost every position in the race, along with everyone else.”

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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 skipped Sanya and finished where Race 7 was to conclude in Subic Bay, Philippines.

Additionally, Races 7 and 8 were combined to avoid the Race 8 finish port of Zhuhai, China, with the course now taking the fleet north from the Philippines, across the Luzon Strait and around the western most cluster of the Japanese Ryukyu Islands before returning to Subic Bay for the finish. The combined race is expected to take 8-10 days.

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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