The Clipper Race fleet has departed for Punta del Este as the second race in the circumnavigation left from Puerto Sherry, Spain yesterday, which was the first stopover destination following an electric Race Start from Portsmouth.
This is the third consecutive edition the global event has set sail for the Uruguayan city. And with the team flying the flag Yacht Club Punta del Este at the top of the Clipper Race leaderboard, all eyes will be on the home boat, led by a local Skipper, as it sails into the port it represents.
The Clipper Race sees crews from all walks of life take on the immense challenge of racing across the world’s oceans. Doctors race alongside teachers and tattoo artists in this incredible test of human endurance, facing some of the toughest weather conditions the planet can serve up on the 40,000nm circumnavigation. Many crew have no prior sailing experience before completing the rigorous, compulsory four stages of training required to race.
With nerves shaken off, sea-legs found, and competition-mode fully switched on after the first race, the eleven teams are now raring to go and sailing on the first ocean crossing of the Clipper 2023-24 Race.
Race 2 is named the ‘Hundred Years Cup’ in honour of the centenary Yacht Club Punta del Este is celebrating this year. This stage of the Clipper Race is a 5300nm challenge across the Atlantic with intense conditions ahead and will be a real test of fortitude.
Across the racecourse, conditions will vary immensely, and tactical decisions will need to come into play from the get-go. The fleet will face amazing downwind conditions and flukey winds around the Canary and Cape Verde islands. It’s then onto the Doldrums and crossing the Equator, bringing with it blistering heat and little movement. Once nearing the South American coast, trickier, stormier conditions are potentially on the cards, including the infamous Pamperos which can potentially cause winds of up to 70-80 knots.
Currently at the top of the Clipper Race leaderboard is Yacht Club Punta del Este, skippered by Punta local, Nano Antia Bernardez. The team placed second in Race 1 but having raced through the Scoring Gate and gaining three bonus points, the team is now top of the Race Standings. Skipper Nano, who grew up on the shores of Punta del Este, talks of the pride he will feel sailing into his hometown: “We are about to sail from Puerto Sherry to Punta del Este on board Yacht Club Punta del Este. This is super special to be representing the club in this race, on a yacht branded with the name of my hometown. Sailing to my city, knowing that my family is going to be there, it’s really emotional. Even just thinking about it gets me a little bit emotional!
“This is one of the most challenging races, because we go through mostly every condition that the ocean can serve up. It’s going to be super tactical. The motivation of going to Punta del Este is just going to be a boost of energy- it is going to be amazing.”
After this epic ocean voyage, the sailors will arrive in Punta del Este. A true showcase of Uruguayan culture, the stopover is set to be a spectacular event packed with a programme of cultural activities, business engagement and tourism events. What’s more, with the Yacht Cub Punta del Este celebrating its 100-year anniversary during the stopover, the festivities on arrival (between 12-16 October) are expected to be bigger than ever before.
Juan Etcheverrito, Commodore of the Yacht Club Punta del Este said: “What a race this one will be! the Hundred Years Cup, as we named it, says it all. One hundred years of seamanship, camaraderie, respect, competitiveness… all that our team will experience during this race. We can’t wait to see our blue beauty enter our port, what a sight it will be!
“As well as welcoming all crew from each boat, its friends and families will give us the chance to demonstrate what 100 years means to a Club like us.”
Also sailing home are two Uruguayan Race Crew, Eugenia Segovia, a Dentist from Montevideo, and Fernanda Nunez, a Cabinet Maker from Punta del Este. Both are racing on board Yacht Club Punta del Este. Before setting off for Race 2, Fernanda said: “I’m super excited to be sailing back to my hometown! Living half of my life in the UK and half of my life in Uruguay, I feel that this is quite something, sailing from England to Uruguay. My yacht is the name of the town I was born in! I am so proud. We are so excited! We are sailing home now!
“I’m also feeling nervous. The first race was around 10 days at sea, which was intense, and now we have five weeks so it’s going to be interesting! Our team is amazing.”
Fellow teammate, Eugenia said: “It’s like a dream come true. Sailing home is the best thing I could ever think about, it’s just awesome. A lot of friends and family are going to be in Uruguay to meet us, it will be amazing.”
Race 2 had a competitive start with Dare To Lead crossing the line in first, then UNICEF and Perseverance followed in second and third. Mark Light, Race Director sums up the start from on the water:
“It is a stunning day on the water with lovely conditions. The sun came out for the fleet for the start of Race 2. There was a south-south westerly breeze of about 15 knots, which is perfect for the start. It was a very very competitive start with lots of supporters on the start line and it’s great to get the fleet off to Punta del Este.
“I know Dare To Lead had a really good start across the line and the boats looked great powered up. Once the teams crossed the start line they started to get into their stride and bunch up a little bit. It looked like really good racing from the committee vessel. The conditions were really perfect for our Clipper 70s- a fast start and a clean start.”