The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race continues its efforts to complete the pandemic-delayed 2019-20 edition in Asia. After a two-year postponement, the fleet of 11 boats in March 2022 was finally able to restart in the Philippines with a course to Seattle in the USA.
But adversity struck quickly, with damage necessitating the team’s diversion from Qingdao to Japan for repairs, then just before it left, extra time was needed to wait for a typhoon, eventually beginning the Pacific crossing. North almost two weeks later than the rest of the fleet
Due to their delay, a plan was hatched for the Qingdao team to aim a little further south towards San Francisco, and as the ten teams departed on April 30 from Seattle for the next leg to Panama, the objective was that the eleven teams regroup.
Qingdao completed its leg in the Pacific Ocean on May 7 and, after a pit stop to regroup and repack, departed San Francisco for a restart gate on May 9 to chase the fleet, now racing against its competitors at the elapsed time. They would make it as far as Cabo San Lucas before adversity found them.
After sustaining an eye injury on May 15, Qingdao’s crew, Diane Morrison, was transferred to a Mexican Navy ship on May 17. again.
A vital variable along the 4000nm distance to Panama is how the fleet must effect its designated transit time through the Panama Canal, which had to be booked prior to the fleet’s arrival in the marina of Flamenco Bay.
Since conditions beyond Cabo San Lucas are notoriously hot, sticky and temperamental, this final section of the course to Panama has five mandatory arrival gates that yachts must pass. These virtual gates provide options to shorten the course, and with the slow progress of the fleet, the stage would end at the third gate.
Race results will be based on times through this gate, with final results known once Quindío completes the course.
Once through this gate, the teams then sail the remaining 934 nm by motor to Flamenco Island Marina where they will transit to the Caribbean Sea. Once reunited, it will be race time again with the next finish line in Bermuda.
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race was established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-69. Its aim was to allow anyone, regardless of their sailing experience, to experience the thrill of ocean racing; it is the only event of its kind for boaters.
Held every two years, the 2019-20 Clipper Race kicked off on September 1 for the fleet of eleven identical Tony Castro-designed Clipper 70s. The most popular round-the-world race, the 12th edition attracted 688 crews representing 43 nationalities for the course of more than 41,000 nautical miles.
However, when the fleet arrived in Asia, the COVID-19 pandemic blocked the fleet from planned routes in China. The 11 Clipper 70s have remained at the Subic Bay Yacht Club in the Philippines since March 2020 after organizers and race crew were forced to return home due to pandemic restrictions, with the restart taking place in March 2022.