Clipper Race: Calling an audible for safety
Published on March 10th, 2020
Race 9, the first of two races to make up the sixth stage, will see the fleet of eleven stripped out 70-foot yachts race offshore in the South China Sea. The second race will be the ‘big one’, the North Pacific Ocean crossing to Seattle.
The course for Race 9, which was revised due to health concerns in China (see below), is short by Clipper Race standards, but still longer than most renowned offshore races. The hot tropical race, will take the Clipper Race fleet on a fast, triangular sprint of approximately 750nm in total. The race is made up of three individual Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint sections between virtual gates.
“Traditionally you’d get the northeast monsoon wind conditions but these can be interspersed with very light patches and sometimes very little wind,” explained Race Director Mark Light. “This means the race is going to be really tactical; when there is breeze, it is going to be fast and energetic, and a lot of high intensity racing.”
Many new faces have joined the teams in Subic Bay and Race 9 is the perfect opportunity to integrate the crew ahead of what is dubbed ‘the big one’. Before the start, all teams completed the mandatory refresher training required at the start of each new leg.
“We’ve had a quite a big changeover of crew this time, some crew who are rejoining, having been on board for earlier legs, and a few new joiners,” shared Seattle skipper David Hartshorn before the start. “There is a little apprehension but there is a good team feeling on board and everyone has settled in nicely.
“There is a lot of energy bouncing around, which is good, we’re going to really focus on getting the watches working smoothly because the next big challenge will be the North Pacific Ocean to our home port of Seattle.
“We’re looking at this upcoming race as a really positive, live training session, with the opportunity to get more points!”
Race 9 is expected to take between four and five days to complete with the fleet anticipated to return back into Subic Bay Yacht Club between March 14 and 15.
Race 10 will depart Subic Bay for the North Pacific Ocean on March 21 and the arrival window into Seattle remains unaffected and stands as April 19-24.
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 during Race 6 from The Whisundays 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. The course for Race 7/8 took 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.
Furthermore, the original course for Races 9 and 10 of the sixth leg had to be revised as the Chinese ports of Zhuhai and Qindao were not deemed safe to visit. Race 9 is now a 750 nautical mile triangular course in the South China Sea, starting and finishing in Subic Bay, with Race 10 to start in Subic Bay before extending across the Pacific Ocean to Seattle, USA.
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