Clipper Race: Storms and obstacles
Published on February 27th, 2020
“The strong winds, currents, squalls and relentless short waves are breaking into our bow, is making this part of the race a fight to get speed and not to stall the boat in every wave=,” reports Punta del Este Skipper Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez.
Despite the fleet being spread across the course, Punta del Este and Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam are currently neck and neck trading places with each gust.
“We are and have been tussling with Punta del Este for the last 36 hours, they have opted for full main and us one reef,” notes Says Josh Stickland, Skipper of Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam. “So, when it gusts, we make gains and when the wind dies they make gains and so on and so forth it’s been playing out like this. I guess we will only be separated when one of us decides to go for the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint.”
Not only are the teams facing challenging weather conditions but many report having to navigate around large fishing nets, buoys, and other vessels in the busy commercial waters.
Rhiannon Massey, Additional Qualified Person (AQP) on Qingdao, explains: “The nets were first spotted on AIS, and continued upwards of five miles long, as we sailed closer more and more were spotted. Fortunately, we managed to avoid hitting any of these. Morning had broken by the time we were near them and we were able to keep a much better lookout in daylight.”
Nine of the 11 teams headed for the Ocean Sprint North, leaving just two to be going for Ocean Sprint South.
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