Clipper Race: Progress toward Bermuda

Published on June 8th, 2022

(June 8, 2022) – Following a smooth Le Mans start, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet is making decent progress, despite the ever-changing winds, through the Caribbean Sea during the first stage of Race 12: Go To Bermuda. WTC Logistics is currently head of the pack and racing toward the first Scoring Gate, located north of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Having played a Joker during this race, the WTC Logistics team will want to maintain their position, but with the GoToBermuda team not far behind and also playing their Joker, it’s all to play for.

The race to the first virtual mark was close, with the whole fleet racing within 5nm of each other, trying to keep good boat speed toward Jamaica. However, the last 24-36 hours has been slow for the fleet, with prevalent wind holes causing the yachts to distance from each other and shake up the rankings, as the teams each navigate the patches of wind and try to pick up some short-lived breeze.

The wind shadow cast by the Haitian mountains, combined with fickle conditions of this region has left many yachts moving at very slow speeds, with crew working tirelessly to keep the boats moving. Skipper of Visit Sanya, China, Mike Miller, describes the changeable conditions he and his crew has faced, “Well the past 48 hours definitely has been a game of three halves. As I write this we are charging upwind at nearly 10 knots, racing towards the coast of Cuba and the Windward Passage that will let us out of the Caribbean and out into the Atlantic Ocean.

“But we’ve only had these glorious moon and star lit conditions for the past two hours or so. For the 12 hours before that we had been drifting aimlessly about telling stories and laughing about the size of the wind hole that held us in its steely grip.”

Whilst wind holes are frustrating, Ian Wiggin, Skipper on Unicef takes a moment to appreciate the joy of sailing in such stunning surroundings, “Tonight is really beautiful and we are extremely lucky to have front row seats to the star show. I know we are racing, but it is so peaceful on deck tonight. No sirens, no traffic, no news, no distractions. The sea is oily, the waves lap at the stern and even the most gentle zephyr of wind can be felt against your skin.”

Once the fleet makes it out into open water after navigating the fickle conditions of the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti, it should enjoy some good breeze. A low pressure system off North America should provide some favorable conditions in the Atlantic for the stretch to Bermuda that the fleet frontrunners are beginning to enjoy.

Three teams have opted for Stealth Mode already during the race: WTC Logistics took advantage of 24 hours of Stealth Mode, managing to create a significant gap from the fleet whilst its position was hidden, and Dare To Lead and Visit Sanya, China are currently in Stealth Mode. With so much action, and three Jokers played in this race (WTC Logistics, Zhuhai and GoToBermuda) be sure to keep watching the Race Viewer to see how the fleet fare on the upcoming Scoring Gate and Ocean Sprint.

Estimated times of arrival, between June 11-13, are to the finish line which is approximately 17nm from the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Please note that these are best estimates based on the latest weather and the average speeds of the fleet. Weather and tidal conditions will cause these times to change.

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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 Round the World Yacht Race media

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