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Clipper Race: Here we go again

Published on March 3rd, 2020

(March 3, 2020; Day 9) – The past 24 hours of Race 7 in the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race has produced some stunning tactical team successes with victories won across the pack leaders. The opportunity to collect additional Scoring Gate points spurred Qingdao, Unicef, and Visit Sanya, China to push hard and the results reflected the monumental team efforts as Qingdao scooped an impressive six points, Unicef getting four, and Visit Sanya, China nabbing two.

The front-runners were within sight of each other and this visual helped build competitive spirit and excitement on board. It was the tactically bold decision to hoist the lightweight Spinnaker, whilst enjoying stronger winds, that enabled Qingdao to seize the day.

“Miraculously in the strong breeze, we hoisted fully to the top in one attempt and as I turned to see clearly the figures of anticipation and excitement on board Qingdao had now closed the gap I felt it,” said skipper Chris Brooks. “The lurch of the boat as she bolted forwards. The Spinnaker popped and off she went like a bolting horse at the sound of a shotgun.

“Our impressive speed in the high teens under Code 3 were now shadowed by the galloping 20 odd knots of boatspeed we held. The boat was surfing on the edge. The crew trimming and easing the spinnaker to allow her to be reigned in the appropriate direction, each fence halted with just a little recoil before launching us through the air. We had made it, six points in a day and what a race!”

Meanwhile Unicef were equally engaged in the fight to achieve maximum points. Skipper Ian Wiggin explained the moment when their competitor Qingdao changed tack: “We were 2.5nm behind Qingdao with only eight miles remaining to the gate. We had made our westing and it was time for both of us to turn our bows south.

“We were catching them, up went their staysail and we were really catching them. Five minutes later, up went their biggest, most powerful downwind sail. What?! How is this possible? No, no, no this is not meant to happen! We were no longer catching them.”

Unicef Skipper Ian Wiggin then went on to congratulate its competitor: “The crew work on Qingdao was unbelievably slick and lightning fast… huge respect for the team effort. It was impressive to watch, and the three bonus points were well deserved.”

Favorable sailing conditions and high boat speeds were recorded across the fleet yesterday but the question now is whether the fickle wind experienced during Race 6 will cause problems in the closing stages of Race 7. All teams are prepared for the slow down as this race reaches it’s exciting conclusion.

WTC Logistics Skipper Rich Gould, said: “With the final 229 miles left to go along the west coast of Luzon, it’s anyone’s guess as to what might happen, and how long it might take; we are certainly a long way off yesterday’s constant double figure speeds.”

For now we can see Seattle on the horizon so GoToBermuda and Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam can’t be far away, and as we saw on the last race, anything could happen on this stretch of water. Wish us luck for the last bit of the course; I think we might just need it.”

The teams remain resolute in their quest to reach the finish line and leads have been lost in the final stages of past races. With so much still to play for, the next 24 hours look set to be an exciting and hard fought contest.

Race detailsTeam listRace routeTrackerFacebook

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 for Race 7 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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