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Clipper race: Underway after two years…

Published on March 24th, 2022

(March 24, 2022) – After a two year postponement due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Clipper 2019-20 Race officially restarted at 1200 Local Time (0400 UTC). Race 10, the Sailing City – Qingdao Cup, got underway today by way of a Le Mans start just off the north coast of Luzon, Philippines. This 6100 nm course across the North Pacific will see teams encounter an extraordinary challenge, sailing in huge waves and extreme weather systems as they race toward Seattle, USA.

Skipper David Hartshorn on CV22 Seattle was Lead Skipper for the start, and expertly corralled the fleet into position as planned and right on time. The exact position for the start was 19°00N, 120°30E, approx. 28nm off the north-western tip of Luzon, Philippines. On starting the race this morning, David said, “It was quite a challenging line, with 22-25 knots from the north east, and a moderate to rough sea with a northerly swell.

“Zhuhai, GoToBermuda and Punta del Este all had good starts with their Yankees powering up quickly. After ten minutes the only change to the fleet was all the boats moved up to sailing a close hauled course.”

Conditions made for an upwind start, with the fleet beginning on a starboard tack on a close reach, heading in a north-north-westerly direction at a good speed of 9-10 knots. After ten minutes (as no course or sail changes are permitted within the first ten minutes of a Le Mans start) the fleet altered course toward the wind on a more close-hauled course and northerly heading.

Zhuhai Skipper Patrick van der Zijden, said, “It was an impressive start in high waves! The yachts were all holding well, and David on Seattle did a fantastic job in co-ordinating the start. The crew on Zhuhai loved it, and were dressed in full team kit for the occasion. We had a strong start ahead of the fleet, now it’s time for the crew to take the helm and preserve energy as we begin the long crossing ahead.”

Dan Jones, Skipper on WTC Logistics added, “What a start, it’s happening! Race 10 is off to a blinding start, with us, Unicef and Zhuhai at the front. This is what we have all been waiting for, all of the blood, sweat and tears in preparation, finally put to the test on the Mighty North Pacific.”

On Sunday (March 20, 2022), the Clipper Race fleet and Race Crew departed Subic Bay, Philippines, which was an emotional and electric day, following months of hard work and preparation by all for the restart. On leaving Subic Bay, the teams spent the past four days making their way up to the start line north of the island of Luzon, ready for a Le Mans start to get the race underway. A Le Mans start involves the fleet lining up under engine, with their mainsails raised and their headsails ready to go. Upon Race Start, the fleet can proceed forward raising their headsails, making for a rolling start and an impressive and exciting start to the race.

Commenting on the start of Race 10, Mark Light, Clipper Race Director said, “They are off! Race 10 is on and it is absolutely awesome to see the Clipper Race fleet out there racing again. Thank you to Dave Hartshorn and all of the Skippers, AQPs and Race Crew for creating another amazing milestone in the Clipper Race.

“Over the next 24 hours, the wind is due to veer (move clockwise) to the east and then further south-east, decreasing slightly, meaning that the fleet can make great speeds on a north-easterly tack up towards the first Virtual Mark Sunshine.

“By tomorrow, it’s likely that spinnakers will appear across the fleet, meaning some fast sailing and a majestic sight with eleven Clipper Race yachts flying their large asymmetric spinnakers, and match racing each other. There is nothing better in yacht racing and the crew will experience something that they will have missed for far too long. We will be glued to the Race Viewer here in the UK!”

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The Clipper Round the World Yacht 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 2019-20 Clipper Race got underway September 1 for the fleet of eleven identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. As the most subscribed round the world race, the 12th edition had attracted 688 crew representing 43 nationalities for the 41,000+ nm course.

However, when the fleet arrived in Asia, the COVID-19 pandemic blocked the fleet from the planned routes in China. The 11 Clipper 70s have remained at Subic Bay Yacht Club in the Philippines since March 2020 after organizers and Race Crew were forced to return home due to pandemic restrictions, with the restart taking place in March 2022.

Source: Clipper Race

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