Clipper Race faces toughest leg

Published on March 28th, 2024

The 11 teams competing in the 2023-24 Clipper Race began the longest ocean crossing of the circumnavigation when they started the 5,340nm course from Qingdao in China to Seattle in the USA on March 28. The start took place in light winds and low visibility, with the crossing of the North Pacific expected to require between 26 and 31 days at sea.

After navigating the fishing fleets, variable winds and Kuroshio current around China and Japan, once the fleet hits the North Pacific proper, it will face the infamous huge conditions that aren’t found anywhere else, and it is a part of the world were few vessels, let alone sailing yachts, venture.

Racing the matched 70-footers, the teams can expect waves the size of tower blocks, winds of over 80 knots and sub-zero temperatures on board as the fleet hurtles through large weather systems in one of the biggest and most remote expanses of ocean on the planet.

“The North Pacific is very underestimated,” noted Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Clipper Ventures Chairman and Founder of the Clipper Race. “It is the toughest leg of the whole race, and it you can face some brutal weather. On the other hand, if you want to say you are a real sailor, you want to say you have done this leg.”

As the tenth race in the event, it will feature an Ocean Sprint and Scoring Gate with bonus points up for grabs, and this race is unique in that it gives teams the option to go into Stealth Mode twice, each for 24 hours, or for a single 48-hour period. Stealth Mode means that the team’s position will be hidden from the Race Viewer and the fleet.

Two teams have played their Joker on this race, which doubles the race points. Both UNICEF and Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, which are currently sat in 4th and 5th place on the overall Race Standings, decided to play the lucrative Joker on this race across the North Pacific.

The Clipper Race fleet is expected to arrive in Seattle by April 21-26, docking in Bell Harbour Marina.

Race detailsTeam listRace routeTrackerFacebook

2023-24 edition will take the following route (updated):

Leg 1
Race 1. Portsmouth, UK – Puerto Sherry, Spain (1200nm) – 3 Sept Race Start, arrive 9 Sept
Race 2. Puerto Sherry, Spain – Punta del Este, Uruguay (5300nm) – 15 Sept Race Start, arrive 12-16 Oct

Leg 2
Race 3. Punta Del Este, Uruguay – Cape Town, South Africa (3555 nm)- 22 Oct Race start, arrive 6-10 Nov

Leg 3
Race 4. Cape Town, South Africa – Fremantle, Australia (4750 nm) – 18 Nov Race Start, arrive 8-13 Dec

Leg 4
Race 5. Fremantle, Australia – Newcastle, Australia (2510nm) – Race Start 19 Dec, Arrival 1-4 Jan 2024
Race 6. Newcastle – Airlie Beach, Australia (985nm) – Race Start 10 Jan, Arrive 16-17 Jan

Leg 5
Race 7. Airlie Beach, Australia – Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam (4515nm) – Race Start 28 Jan, Arrive 21-26 Feb
Race 8. Ha Long Bay – Zhuhai, China (645nm) – Race Start 2 March, Arrive 6-7 March

Leg 6
Race 9. Zhuhai, China – Qingdao, China (1370nm) – Race Start 12 March- Arrive 21-22 March
Race 10. Qingdao – Seattle, USA (5580nm) – Race Start 27 March, Arrive 21-26 April

Leg 7
Race 11. Seattle, USA – Panama Canal (4200nm) – Race Start 3 May, Arrive Panama 27 May-1 Jun
Race 12. Panama-Washington, DC, USA (1990nm) – Race Start 5 June, Arrive 17-19 June

Leg 8
Race 13. Washington, DC, USA – Oban, Scotland (3340nm) – Race Start 25 June, Arrive 12-16 July
Race 14. Oban – Portsmouth, UK (815nm) – Race Start 21 July, Arrive 27 July

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 2023-24 Round the World Yacht Race got underway September 3 for the fleet of eleven identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. This 13th edition has 24 crew aboard each yacht, coming from 63 different nationalities (105 sailors from the USA) for the 40,000 mile circumnavigation of the world.

The course is divided into 8 legs and 14 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.

Source: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

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