Clipper Race: Inshore or offshore?
Published on February 25th, 2020
(February 25, 2020; Day 2) – It was another intense day on the water for the eleven teams in the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race as they made choices in the revised course for Race 7. The inshore or offshore choice had to be made and as the fleet converges to pass Mark Massey, and clear the wind shadow of the Philippines, the inshore route looks to have paid off with Qingdao, Punta del Este, and Unicef currently leading the fleet.
“It may have been noted in previous races that we are scared of commitment,” said Unicef Skipper Ian Wiggin. “The middle ground has always been our preferred option, but no longer! For this race we thought we would buck the trend. We committed to sail close to the shore. As the most inshore team our options are now very limited but the possible gains are very exciting.”
Virtual Mark Massey, named after Qingdao’s AQP Rhiannon Massey, is a virtual waypoint at 18°40.000N, 119°40.000E which each yacht must pass to starboard. With the teams currently still in the lee of Luzon, the light winds continue but there is wind waiting for them.
Qingdao Skipper Chris Brooks has hedged his strategy on the forecast, reporting: “Climbing northward we are now east of the mark and the wind is presently coming from the direction of the mark but forecasted to change. This is one situation where we would hope the forecast is accurate as it will save us tacking towards our first mark – Massey – and costing us a huge amount of time. We also need it to happen soon to avoid light winds forecast in this area in about 6-8 hrs. Our eggs are firmly in the one basket.”
The competition remains close with less than 20 nautical miles, but with gains also comes losses as Dare To Lead Skipper Guy Waites reports: “As the witching hour approached we chose the offshore option, with an enormous wind hole forecast to the west coast of Luzon it was always going to be a gamble. By the early morning sched we had fallen from quickest to slowest in the fleet.”
“So, the question is do we go for the fast looking one that may have more of the fleet competing for the points, or the slower looking one that may have less boats competing for the three top spots?” noted WTC Logistics Skipper Rich Gould. “Or will the whole fleet be thinking of a double bluff? Will the one that appears slower end up with more takers?
“Part of the choice will be tactical, but part of the decision is a stab in the dark, as none of the fleet will know which boat has entered which sprint until it’s too late to change. Once the decisions are made we are stuck with them, the whole fleet will be informed at the same time as to which boat is entered into which sprint.
“A first for the Clipper Race, and it adds a bit of interest to this relatively short race.”
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 finished in Subic Bay, Philippines.
Additionally, Races 7 and 8 were combined to avoid the Race 8 finish port of Zhuhai, China. Starting on February 25, the course now takes 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