Clipper Race: One down, Two to go

Published on March 12th, 2020

(March 12, 2020; Day 2) – On the second day of Race 9, it is all to play for in the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race as less than 25nm separate the 11 teams.

Having completed the first of three Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprints, the upwind second stage of the 750nm triangular course is asking some difficult questions as light winds plague the north of the course.

Renowned for its successes in Ocean Sprints Punta del Este is currently leading the fleet, Skipper Jeronimo Santos-Gonzalez reports: “Race 9 is getting really exciting, with part of the fleet splitting up, and with a wind hole the size of Wales arriving in the next few hours, anything can happen. We may converge at the edge of the wind hole and start racing together again, or the ones in the lead may sneak through the lighter breezes to continue in the first positions.”

As teams had to select in advance two of the three Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprints to compete in, the overall results will be blurry until the very end. Guy Waites, Skipper of Dare To Lead, explained: “With the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint number one under our belt, but, by no means decided, it’s far too close to call the positions for first, second and third. We moved swiftly on to sprint number two.

“Since then, it’s been a constant round of trimming and helming to keep Dare To Lead at the front of the fleet, after all there’s the big picture to think of and not just the Ocean Sprints.”

In such a short race every move matters. Unfortunately for Qingdao, this may be the case after rounding a Virtual Race Mark incorrectly, and correcting its mistake could prove costly. Skipper Chris Brooks said: “Visit Sanya, China spoke over the radio. Their words were frank and unmixed. We saw that you didn’t correctly round the last mark and would like you to check, if you do not agree we will protest you.

“I came away from the hand unit of the VHF. At first glance, I checked the Garmin GPS Plotter and we had gone around correctly. I scrolled to the mark where it’s position could be found…Oh no, this was real, the mark had been input ever so slightly off.

“We immediately turned around, no sooner than I could break the news to our fired up team. Fired up, soon turned to fire in the belly and the irritation of being told more than 8nm past our mistake, fueled the team.”

Having swapped spinnakers for white sails, the beat upwind has slowed but with weather guru and Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell predicting that there is only about 24-30 hours before a front comes in from the north, it is looking like the final third could be rapid.

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.

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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

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