Clipper Race: A very unusual situation
Published on March 14th, 2020
(March 14, 2020; Day 4) – The 750nm Race 9 of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race has been a short but fast challenge for the 11 teams and the racing fleet has remained incredibly close throughout.
As the fleet approaches the end of the triangular course, tension is high amongst front runners while they close in on the finish line.
Skipper Jeromino Santos-Gonzalez explains the close quartered racing and competitive spirit on board Punta del Este: “We are having a really close fight with Visit Sanya, China to the port side and Unicef to the starboard side, all three doing more or less the same speed and gaining or losing meters at the time.
“This one is going to be a really close call to the end of the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint, but we have 135 nautical miles to go so lots can happen before.”
The weather conditions are far more favorable for the teams as they approach Subic Bay.
“We and the whole fleet, currently find ourselves, in a very unusual situation,” explains WTC Logistics Skipper Rich Gould. “We are West of Luzon island and we have wind, plenty of it too. This is different sailing from the previous passages in the South China Sea, but I’m pretty sure it won’t last all the way in, sadly.
“As we close in on the coast line I think the breeze will soften, and with the fleet still pretty tightly packed there could be a big reshuffle just before the race track is all used up”
Visit Sanya, China’s Skipper Seumus Kellock comments: “For now we will gladly accept these lovely conditions, cruising along beside Punta del Este and Unicef with Qingdao back in the fight just behind us, keeping us all on our toes”
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