Clipper Race: Focusing on the future
Published on March 1st, 2020
(March 1, 2020; Day 7) – Now that all eleven Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race teams have rounded the Japanese Ryukyu Islands, concentration is firmly focused on the second half of the race, with the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint South, two Scoring Gates and the finish line all providing point scoring opportunities.
Race 7 has seen Qingdao and Unicef retain a steady lead. Could day seven see a change in the leaderboard, as all teams endeavor to outwit the impending and unpredictable weather conditions?
Skipper of Qingdao, Chris Brooks pondered the next phase of the race saying: “Race Viewers at home will know better than I as to how the fleet is progressing, but likely, the teams are coming along the coast of Taiwan on a northerly breeze. We are sat offshore between our competitors and the mark but the fear is they may circumnavigate past us before the pressure reaches us in around six hours. The next 12 hours will be very telling indeed.”
Certainly, the fleet is closing in on each other and the Race Viewer depicts a much closer cluster of teams than has been the case in previous days. Race 6 winner WTC Logistics has struggled to find form this race but is hoping to tactically out maneuver the opposition in the coming days, as Skipper Rich Gould explains: “After seemingly being on the wrong side of every wind shift on our way up here, it looks like things are finally starting to go our way.
“The last sched was very encouraging, and the next one is due within the hour. Looking at the positions of the boats ahead of us (which at the time of writing is still ALL of them!) and the weather forecast it would appear that the front runners are being hindered by either a lack of wind and/or wind from the wrong direction.”
Meanwhile the race within a race continues between Visit Sanya, China, Zhuhai, Punta del Este and Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam. All teams report the on the close competition being fought between, only five nautical miles separates the components. With Scoring Gate points and a potential podium place up for grabs, concentration is key with no team willing to relent to the other.
Punta del Este First Mate, Ryan Barkey, explains further: “The importance of this pack lead can’t be overstated. Turning our attention a day or so down the line, the Scoring Gates will be our next big tactical question mark. As it stands; Qingdao and Unicef are holding the lead, potentially one gate will be stripped of five of its available six points, leaving the other gate ripe for the picking; or an even split.”
As this fascinating race continues to unfold, life on board remains one of camaraderie and joviality. Each day the Clipper Race teams find ways to celebrate their journey outside of racing. Birthdays and milestones are observed together as a crew family; today is no exception with the celebration being on board Zhuhai for Skipper Wendy Tuck’s birthday. Many happy returns Wendo, from the Clipper Race.
The closing stages of Race 7 look likely to be a challenge for all of the teams.
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