Clipper Race: A day of thanks

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(November 28, 2019; Day 11) – The Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race teams have many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, on the racing front – a slight break in the tough squally conditions that they have been facing over the last 48hrs.

Qingdao maintains its lead in Race 4 for another day, with Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam in second as the two leaders continue to ride out the weather and extend their lead over the chasing pack.

Sam Cooper, AQP on board Imagine your Korea, currently third, reported: “We started the day by putting in a pair of reefs which, with our Yankee and Staysail, was a fast but manageable sail plan for the building wind. We had been warned of winds in the 50s, but then the first front hit.

“Frank Hoogland was on the helm and held the boat beautifully as the wind speed rocketed up to 72kts, driving hail horizontally down the deck and whipping the tops off the waves.

“The afternoon brought bigger seas, and the conditions remained serious, but some order and control was re-established, allowing us all to take a deep breath.”

Squalls bringing wind speeds topping 80 knots were seen across the fleet. Following a particularly nasty one, Nick Leggatt, Skipper of Zhuhai said: “Our navigation software, TIMEZERO by Maxsea, allows us to download all of our track data to a CSV file so that we can analyze our performance second by second.

“I had a look at the numbers. Starting from 05:09:04 UTC the wind speeds recorded were 70, 70.6, 71.1, 71.2, 72.2, 72.3, 73.4, 80.8, 81.8, with a sustained period before and after that in excess of 64 knots! Since then, things have been decidedly pedestrian. Mostly severe gale 9 and sometimes as mundane as gale 8.”

Whilst tough, these conditions have also brought ample opportunity to both set and break new boat speed records. After a tough night WTC Logistics Skipper, Mark Burkes, who had his Race 4 top speed broken by Will Michelmore’s 29.7 knots, is looking ahead to what the next few days could bring and reports: “The next few days should see some lighter conditions of 25 – 30 kts but then a potentially complicated routing conundrum seems to be presenting itself.”

On board Seattle the team is hoping for a quieter sea state so they can enjoy their Thanksgiving feast, Skipper Dave Hartshorn, said: “Happy Thanksgiving to all those celebrating today, hope you have a great day. We are having a bit of a turkey lunch, with cranberry sauce and there’s promise of real mashed potatoes, instead of smash!”

Unicef is back racing following the medevac of crew member Andrew Toms in Durban. Despite making initially slow progress spirits are high on board with Skipper Ian Wiggin saying: “On Unicef we are eternally optimistic, our spirits will never be broken, and we WILL get to Australia as quickly as possible.”

And, in further good news, all repairs have now been completed on Punta del Este and Visit Sanya, China and both yachts will be departing from Cape Town today. There is a clear sense of excitement amongst the the crew, ahead of their departure, with both teams eager to get back to racing.

The 11 teams set off on November 17 for the Leg 3/Race 4 of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race, which takes the fleet 4750nm from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle, Australia. The majority of the fleet is due to arrive in Cape Town between December 9 and 14.

Delayed: After starting, Unicef returned to Durban on November 26 for crew member Andrew Toms to disembark and receive medical treatment for a suspected appendicitis.

Collision: Punta del Este and Visit Sanya, China remain in Cape Town for repair after an incident at the start of Race 4 resulted in significant damage. After a review of the facts, Sanya, China was deemed to be at fault after a clear breach of the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) 10 ‘On Opposite Tacks’.

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, sailingscuttlebutt

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