Clipper Race: The sprint strategy
Published on March 11th, 2020
(March 11, 2020; Day 1) – The ninth race within the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race commenced yesterday on the triangular 750nm course which consists of three Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprints, of which the teams can elect to compete in two.
Seven teams declared their intent to compete in the first Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint: Qingdao; Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam; Zhuhai; Unicef; Seattle; Visit Sanya, China; and Punta del Este. The wind has been favorable, producing fast sailing conditions and the teams competing against each other are capitalizing on this early advantage.
“We are now off sailing a triangular course,” said Zhuhai Skipper Wendy Tuck. “I’m loving it! It’s going to have a bit of everything, it’s quite short, hopefully as it is currently, it will be close racing. We are under Spinnaker right now and it is glorious sailing.”
The team currently leading the charge is Punta del Este and is being pursued very closely by two fiercely competitive teams Qingdao and Visit Sanya, China. With very little to separate the three front runners, the teams must maintain concentration as one slip could result in not only the lead being lost but also the loss of Ocean Sprint points.
Skipper Jeronimo Gonzalez of Punta del Este explains: “We have 44 nautical miles to finish the first Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint of Race 9. We are experiencing great constant 20 knots of northeasterly winds. Full sails and Spinnakers up, the whole fleet is charging fast to the end of the ocean sprint.
“In this short race there is no time to be complacent or to make mistakes, the Clipper Race fleet sails really close to each other and we can be overtaken in a matter of minutes.”
Opting against taking part in the first sprint seems to have been a decision based upon new crew joining for Leg 6, as the teams with larger numbers of new joiners have decided to hold off, prioritizing training in the hope that their team will be better prepared for the later Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprints.
Explained Imagine your Korea Skipper Rob Graham: “Imagine your Korea has chosen not to compete in this first (Westward) Ocean Sprint. Instead we are concentrating on integrating and developing the six new crew joining us for Leg 6.
“So far that is going very well – they were all keen enough to come down to the boat and help with cleaning and maintenance before the official crew changeover date, and are settling quickly into the routine of life on board. They are being helped in this by the experienced crew and by the weather which so far has given us gently challenging conditions – ideal for training.”
Race 9 is set to be a highly tactical competition and all teams are hoping to gain as many of the points available to them. See below, the team declarations for the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint are as follows:
Imagine your Korea – Ocean Sprint 2 and 3
GoToBermuda – Ocean Sprint 2 and 3
Seattle – Ocean Sprint 1 and 2
WTC Logistics – Ocean Sprint 2 and 3
Punta del Este – Ocean Sprint 1 and 3
Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam – Ocean Sprint 1 and 2
Dare To Lead – Ocean Sprint 1 and 2
Zhuhai – Ocean Sprint 1 and 2
Visit Sanya, China – Ocean Sprint 1 and 3
Qingdao – Ocean Sprint 1 and 3
Unicef – Ocean Sprint 1 and 3
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