Clipper Race: Minefield of wind holes
(October 6, 2019; Race 2, Day 21) – After 21 days at sea, there is now only just over a week to go until the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race fleet arrives in Punta del Este, Uruguay. But Mother Nature won’t be making the final stretch of this 5,195 nautical mile course across the Atlantic Ocean easy for the 11 teams.
The fleet is currently spread over 600nm along the Brazilian coastline, with the leading boats having just moved south of Rio de Janeiro. According to Clipper Race Meteorologist, Simon Rowell, the wind curving around the western end of the ridge extending towards Brazil has not only created a minefield of wind holes for the fleet, but will also see the teams face sudden and sharp gusts of up to 40 knots.
Seattle has experienced both sides of the coin over the last 24 hours, from sudden downpours and strong winds, to being almost being brought to a standstill. And it’s had an impact on the leaderboard; the fifth and sixth placed Zhuhai and Unicef (which are within 10nm of each other), have largely avoided the the light winds to extend the gap on Seattle to around 50nm.
Seattle Skipper Ben Keitch explains: “It was a somewhat frustrating day of light winds, I’d let us come a bit too close to Brazil. Sometimes this can work, picking up local winds, but the scheds (positions update) revealed our closest rivals, Unicef and Zhuhai,had done far better with offshore winds and even WTC Logistics and Punta del Este had made a huge gain on us.”
Just 8nm separates the eighth placed Punta del Este from WTC Logistics in ninth place. Punta del Este, which, like Qingdao, played its Joker [NB: a tactical mechanism which doubles any race points earned] for this race, is hoping the arrival of the wind holes will create an opportunity to make a late charge up the leaderboard, much like it did in the final stages of the opening race to Portimão.
Punta del Este First Mate Ryan Barkey reports: “Right now we are in a drag race in squally conditions down the coast of Brazil with the prospects of a gaping wind hole looming ever closer. This keeps the hopes just high enough for another accordion effect finish, opening the door to the potential of us, if we play are cards right, squeaking by some of the competition and salvaging what feels like well-deserved points.”
The intensity of the battle between Visit Sanya, China and Qingdao at the front of the fleet continues to build. After sixteen consecutive days on top of the leaderboard, Qingdao managed to briefly move ahead of Visit Sanya into the number one position after a well-timed gybe brought it closer to the rhumb line. And while Visit Sanya is now back in official first place, Qingdao isn’t giving up.
Skipper Chris Brooks says: “The wind was looking a little light so we gybed in to find some extra pressure and extra pressure we did find. 20 knot boat speeds and up to 30 knots seemed a little hard on the night driving under the Code 2 Spinnaker, so content we had found some more pressure, we have decided to continue our way south.
“As expected, the competition covered our moves well but at least we can finally see them on AIS. Some very complicated ops going on over the next 24 hours and the weather may not play out quite as my tactics would have it, so some big gains and losses to be made over the next three days. We are keen to press home a lead now so will be looking to out smart the opposition.”
To follow the ETA for when the fleet is due to arrive into Punta del Este, click here.
Race 2 began September 15 and will take the 11 teams along a 5195 nm course from Portimão, Portugal to Punta del Este, Uruguay, with their expected arrival between October 12 and 16.
Race details – Skipper list – Race route – Tracker – Facebook
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
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