Clipper Race: All the horses on the track

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(November 29, 2019; Day 12) – As the distance between first placed Qingdao and second Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam narrows in Race 4 of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam Skipper Josh Stickland reports of the gloom on the twelfth day of racing from Cape Town to Fremantle. “The sky is grey, the sea is grey, the squalls are grey.”

However, the upcoming change in weather may bring some long awaited sunshine but also lighter winds, and is on the mind of the two leaders.

Chris Brooks, Skipper of Qingdao explains: “Good or bad, win or lose, there are lighter winds coming with various directional changes. In order to achieve in these conditions you need a little luck. Luck that the forecasts are accurate to start with. Then you need a good tactical mind and how I love a good game of chess with 70ft pieces.

“To start with I’m factoring in this north / south divide we have with Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam and if we’d like to reduce that or not. It’s a little early to say just yet, but I’ll come back to you over the next few days.”

Half way through the race, and over 2,500nm miles sailed, less than 90nm separates GoToBermuda, Zhuhai, and WTC Logistics, in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. Having fellow teams within AIS and VHF range is a comfort during the testing conditions of the Southern Ocean.

Zhuhai Skipper Nick Leggatt said: “We might be competitors on the water, but it is still good to hear some friendly voices and know they are not far away! It sounds as if they are having similar experiences to us, so we are “all in the same boat”, and I’m sure this will only serve to spur us on!”

Following the completion of repairs, Punta del Este and Visit Sanya, China departed Cape Town, and in order to maximize time the teams motor-sailed through the first night and conducted a Le Mans start between themselves.

Punta del Este Skipper, Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez said: “The crew is ready to face the Southern Ocean all the way to Fremantle, Australia. The challenges ahead are big waves, strong winds along with cold and wet conditions. We are match racing with Visit Sanya, China one of the fastest competitors. We are also racing against time to arrive to Fremantle. We have completed a Le Mans start and we are now racing!”

All eleven teams are now back racing and making best progress towards Fremantle. For the leaders, less than 2,000 nautical miles remains and the next race feature will be thee Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint.

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, getting back to the race on November 27.

Collision: Punta del Este and Visit Sanya, China were in Cape Town for repair after an incident at the start of Race 4 resulted in significant damage. Their race finally got underway on November 28, with a review of the facts finding Sanya, China to be at fault after a clear breach of the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) 10 ‘On Opposite Tacks’. Details.

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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