Clipper Race: Being in eyeball range
Published on March 13th, 2020
(March 13, 2020; Day 3) – The 11 teams in the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race are on the third legf of the revised 750nm triangular Race 9 course. The fleet remains in close proximity as patience is being tested by wind holes plaguing progress.
Dan Jones, First Mate on WTC Logistics reports: “This racing is awfully frustrating. We spent the whole of the last 24 hours drifting at around 2-3kts, alongside Dare To Lead and Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, to find the rest of the fleet catching us! In light winds, good helming is key. The smallest of turns here and there can either gain you 200m on your closest rival or collapse your wind seeker and lose you 200m.
“This lack of wind overnight meant boats to the west of the course are now struggling to make the end gate of the Ocean Sprint resulting in the entire fleet being back in eyeball range.”
On board Imagine your Korea, First Mate, Sam Cooper, described their recent experience on the course: “Earlier this morning, this more closely resembled a drunken attempt at rhythmic ballet, with our cohort all performing out of time and pirouetting back and forth across the course. Since those wonderful hours, we have made a steady drag north.”
Currently in second place on this tactical race is Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam after being overtaken by Visit Sanya, China. Skipper Josh Stickland commented on the obstacles faced on their route: “The fleet met a 30 mile long fishing fleet, and with encouragement from Visit Sanya, China and GoToBermuda, we crossed first (you could have cut the tension with a knife) but a really good watch with the crew following orders to a ‘tee’.”
Feeling positive about their race progress, Ian Wiggin, Skipper of Unicef said: “After a rather shaky first half, we have enjoyed a much more productive second. We are all very pleased with our fleet position.
“It is hard to discourage enthusiasm and engagement, but when there are six people stood behind the helm cage referencing the Garmin plotter and discussing strategy, I feel like Unicef is doing a wheelie. Because we were not entered into Ocean Sprint 2, we had the luxury of choosing a more easterly course overnight.
“Although we sailed a slightly further route, it positioned us nicely for the anticipated wind shift. Somehow, we now find ourselves battling for third position which is certainly unexpected.”
Currently leading the way back to Subic Bay is Seumas Kellock, Skipper of Visit Sanya, China: “Now we weave our way east, waiting for the monsoon north easterlies to fill in and propel us south back home. And, it should be at a good pace when she does fill in.”
As Skipper Guy Waites of Dare To Lead remarked: “This race has not yet run its course. Every hour presents another opportunity, sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind, in the end it’s all a game, so let’s play it for the game’s sake!”
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. 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