Clipper Race: Scoring gate split decision

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December 26, 2019; Day 4) – Spirits were high on the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race as the fleet reflects on the unique festive celebrations on board. Normal racing business has resumed as tactical decisions come into play with the first yachts in proximity of the scoring gate.

For most, calm conditions have allowed an array of gift-giving, holiday-attire, nap-inducing feasts and games on board, while most-enjoyed was the messages and well wishes received from team supporters back home.

Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez, Skipper of Punta del Este commented: “It was lovely to see our loved ones wishing us Merry Christmas in the middle of the ocean.”

On the racing side of proceedings, the teams have been split in their decision whether to head directly for the scoring gate, for bonus points, or push further north to make better time under the threat of the three teams racing on elapsed time.

Currently in fifth place, Imagine your Korea’s Skipper Rob Graham said: “Since we trickled out of our windhole, Imagine your Korea has been pushing hard with Zhuhai for the scoring gate – we could usually see the yacht on AIS and occasionally visually.

“Having another boat so close has focused everyone’s mind on helming straight and trimming often for best possible speed. A side effect of all that food yesterday is that crew balancing the boat by sitting on the high side were more effective than usual.”

On board Qingdao, currently third on the leaderboard, Skipper Chris Brooks reported: “The racing has been tough. Our initial decision to run toward the scoring gate from the northwest was abandoned when we made an assumption that the chaser boats would beat us on elapsed time cost us a great deal.

“But in hindsight maybe we should have continued on with that plan. It appeared after deciding to abandon the scoring gate that a coastal route was favoured with a backing breeze that would lift the new port tack to take us on course for Tasmania.”

Looking forward, the wind is forecast to pick up for the teams who have been experiencing the lighter winds at the front of the fleet.

Guy Waites, Skipper of Dare To Lead says: “With the first of the Southern Ocean depressions rolling in from the west we should soon be down wind code sailing, hopefully signalling the end of our wind hole wriggling.”

Whilst Zhuhai’s Skipper Nick Leggatt reports: “This time yesterday, we were sailing slowly under full Mainsail and Windseeker in near calm conditions, but soon after lunch we changed the latter sail to the Yankee 1 and later hoisted the Staysail.

“This morning the breeze has filled in from ahead and we did a quick change to Yankee 2 to get ahead of Imagine your Korea. It seemed to pay off. This evening we expect the wind to back, so that we finally get some downwind sailing. All the team is looking forward to that!”

On board Unicef, Skipper Ian Wiggin commented: “Although the calmer weather is great for our festivities, it isn’t so great for the racing. We are making solid progress, now almost exactly in the right direction, but have a way to go to catch the boats in front.”

He continued, “With some great wind forecast to blast us to the bottom of Tasmania, and so many tactical decisions up the East coast, there are plenty of opportunities available to win back lost ground and find our way ahead.”

With a lot of decisions being made, and the majority of the 3,400nm route yet to tackle, the status of the leaderboard is far from certain.

Eight of the 11 teams set off on December 22 for the Leg 4/Race 5 of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race, which takes the fleet 3415nm from Fremantle, Australia to The Whitsundays, Australia. The absence of three teams was due to their delay in Leg 3/Race 4 (see below) with issues requiring them to return to port, finally finishing between December 19 and 20. The three remaining teams will begin Leg 4/Race 5 on December 24. The eleven teams are expected to arrive at the Whitsundays between January 9 and 12.

Delayed: After starting Leg 3/Race 4 from Cape Town, South Africa on November 17, Unicef diverted course on November 22 to Durban for crew member Andrew Toms to disembark and receive medical treatment for a suspected appendicitis, with the team returning to the race on November 27. They finished in Fremantle, Australia on December 20 (12:24 UTC).

Collision: Punta del Este and Visit Sanya, China were in Cape Town, South Africa for repair after an incident at the start of Race 4 on November 17 resulted in significant damage. Their race finally got underway on November 28, finishing in Fremantle, Australia on December 19 (07:50 UTC) and December 20 (03:11 UTC), respectively. A review of the facts found 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: sailingscuttlebutt

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