Clipper Race: Staying close

Published on February 28th, 2020

(February 28, 2020; Day 5) – The Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race teams are hard at work striving to attain those all important points as they enter the fifth day of this leg. Qingdao is currently in first place closely followed by Unicef, less than 15nm behind, and Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam in third as the fleet approaches the Japanese island of Maiyakojima.

The Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint is high on the agenda for the nine teams competing in the North challenge. Punta del Este changed tack and appears to have committed to achieving optimum points from the sprint. The team is being pursued closely by Visit Sanya, China and Zhuhai, as the three teams fought against each other in the closing stages of the contest.

Seumas Kellock, Skipper of Visit Sanya, China spoke of its close rivals and the tactics taken by each team, saying: “We’re almost finished sprinting as I write with only 20 miles to go, Punta del Este has appeared over the horizon ahead of us and Zhuhai are slowly gaining behind us.

“This is going to be a very close sprint indeed. We opted for the northern sprint but in hindsight we should have gone for the southern sprint since Qingdao and WTC Logistics will pick up 2 or 3 points just for turning up, which is lucky I think because the southern sprint looks like a real mixed bag of wind.”

All teams remain focused on the competition and are still comparatively close to one another with just over 100 nautical miles separating first place from eleventh and a shift in weather expected over the weekend, the closing stages of Race 7 could well be another exciting and gripping finale.

Skipper of race leader Qingdao, Chris Brooks spoke about the fickle conditions, it’s tussle against Unicef and the closing stage of the race saying: “Unicef has tracked with us and have always been a fast boat. They will be hard to beat in this race. Onboard at this stage it’s too early to even predict a front half position. We will have lots of light airs before the end and just like the last race these might harm the leaders and allow boats to overtake from the back.”

The upcoming race days look set to be intriguing and the decisions taken by the teams as they approach the midway race point could well affect the podium positions.

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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 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

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