Clipper Race: Flying toward Subic Bay
Published on March 2nd, 2020
(March 2, 2020; Day 8) – The 11 teams in the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race have their hands full in the closing stages of the revised Race 7 course. With the offwind breeze at 25 to 30 knots, dodging commercial traffic through the Luzon Strait, navigating around islands and through rivers of powerful current, the fleet of Clipper 70s are full on toward the finish in Subic Bay, Philippines.
After picking up points at the Scoring Gate East, Qingdao, Unicef, and Visit Sanya, China have all gybed towards the Scoring Gate West, still hungry for those all-important bonus points.
For the first time in the Clipper Race. there are two scoring gates in the same race and they were placed 30 nm either side of the Rhumb line to the West and to the East. Both Scoring Gates were approximately 10 nm wide and this gave an opportunity for a possible six teams to gain bonus points.
Crossing the East Scoring Gate first was Qingdao at 00:49:34UTC, followed by Unicef in second place at 00:57:55UTC. Visit Sanya, China picked up the final points at 03:02:20UTC. Heading West, the front-runner remained very close with Qingdao crossing the line of the scoring gate at 06:51:53UTC, followed by Unicef at 06:55:57UTC, gaining two bonus points with another three points going to Visit Sanya, China as they raced across the scoring gate at 08:55:56UTC.
“We have had Unicef who have been pushing exceedingly hard and putting the pressure on to sail clean and fast for at least the last 12 hours now,” reports Rhiannon Massey on board Qingdao. “Throughout these 12 hours they’ve been well within sight and that’s both made us try to step up our game and work extra hard on our spinnaker trim and driving.”
Unicef Skipper Ian Wiggin reports how Qingdao’s lead ahead of them has evaporated from 30 miles to just two. “Sadly they just pipped us to the first scoring gate, waving their transom coquettishly at us from what seemed like inches away, but still, our first scoring gate points of the whole race. Well done the big blue boat!
“With the favourable breeze still blowing at well over 20 knots, it made sense for both of us to gybe over and see if we could snatch the points at the other scoring gate too. We now continue our chase, like an over-enthusiastic labrador after a tennis ball, bounding over the waves. Ten miles to go; Qingdao is still very catchable, and the points are still available.”
Looking towards a tight finish, can Unicef catch Qingdao and overtake? Will the close match-racing teams have yet another re-shuffle? Will the fleet be plagued by windholes? It’s all eyes on the fleet as another race finale looks like a tense watch.
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