Clipper Race officially underway after gathering for a Le Mans start

After a two year wait, the Clipper 2019-20 Race has officially restarted.  Race 10, the ‘Sailing City · Qingdao Cup’, got underway today by way of a Le Mans start just off the north coast of Luzon, Philippines.

A Le Mans start involves the fleet lining up under engine, with their mainsails raised and their headsails ready to go. Upon Race Start, the fleet can proceed forward raising their headsails, making for a rolling start and an impressive and exciting start to the race.

This race across the mighty North Pacific will see teams encounter an extraordinary challenge, sailing in huge waves and extreme weather systems as they race toward Seattle, USA.

Skipper David Hartshorn on CV22 Seattle was Lead Skipper for the start, and expertly corralled the fleet into position as planned and right on time.  The exact position for the start was 19°00N, 120°30E, approx. 28nm off the north-western tip of Luzon, Philippines.

On starting the race this morning, David said: “It was quite a challenging line, with 22-25 knots from the north east, and a moderate to rough sea with a northerly swell.

“Zhuhai, GoToBermuda and Punta del Este all had good starts with their Yankees powering up quickly. After ten minutes the only change to the fleet was that all the boats moved up to sailing a close hauled course.”

Conditions made for an upwind start, with the fleet beginning on a starboard tack on a close reach, heading in a north-north-westerly direction at a good speed of 9-10 knots. After ten minutes (as no course or sail changes are permitted within the first ten minutes of a Le Mans start) the fleet altered course toward the wind on a more close-hauled course and northerly heading.

Zhuhai Skipper Patrick van der Zijden, said: “It was an impressive start in high waves! The yachts were all holding well, and David on Seattle did a fantastic job in co-ordinating the start. The crew on Zhuhai loved it. We had a strong start ahead of the fleet, now it’s time for the crew to take the helm and preserve energy as we begin the long crossing ahead.”  

Dan Jones, Skipper on WTC Logistics added: “What a start- it’s happening! Race 10 is off to a blinding start, with us, Unicef and Zhuhai at the front. This is what we have all been waiting for – all of the blood, sweat and tears in preparation, finally put to the test on the Mighty North Pacific.”   

Commenting on the start of Race 10, Mark Light, Clipper Race Director said: “They are off! Race 10 is on and it is absolutely awesome to see the Clipper Race fleet out there racing again. Thank you to Dave Hartshorn and all of the Skippers, AQPs and Race Crew for creating another amazing milestone in the Clipper Race. 

“Over the next 24 hours, the wind is due to veer (move clockwise) to the east and then further south-east, decreasing slightly, meaning that the fleet can make great speeds on a north-easterly tack up towards the first Virtual Mark Sunshine. By tomorrow, it’s likely that spinnakers will appear across the fleet, meaning some fast sailing and a majestic sight with eleven Clipper Race yachts flying their large asymmetric spinnakers, and match racing each other. There is nothing better in yacht racing and the crew will experience something that they will have missed for far too long. We will be glued to the Race Viewer here in the UK!”

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