Clipper Race departs USA for Panama

Published on April 30th, 2022

The 2019-20 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is underway again, continuing its epic circumnavigation with the 7200nm leg down the West Coast of North America to Panama, where the fleet will transit the Panama Canal, sail through the Caribbean and up to first time Host Port Bermuda.

Departing April 30 from Seattle, WA, the course to the Panama finish line offers offwind angles that remain chilly until Mexico when thermals give way to sunscreen, with teams opting for either acceleration from the south-flowing California Current, or heading offshore in search of more wind.

Once clear of Cabo San Lucas, the historic conditions for Leg 7 provide a tactical light wind game, with the 4000nm distance to Panama expected to take around 25-30 days, with the Clipper Race teams due to finish between May 25 and 30.

“We start off with some breeze, and potentially upwind conditions when we leave,” said Daniel Bodey on the yacht Unicef. “Then when we transit down the coast the winds will become lighter before we enter the doldrums. The race has a finish, and five other mandatory gates which can become potential finish lines depending on how quickly the wind dies out – it will provide a unique challenge for us! It will be really interesting from a tactical standpoint.”

The yacht Qingdao, having diverted to Japan early on the leg from the Philippines to Seattle, is making great progress across the North Pacific, and is estimated to arrive in San Francisco on May 5, and will begin this leg about 3-4 days after arrival.

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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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