The twelve Clipper Race teams officially got underway yesterday off Punte Del Este, Uruguay, in northwesterly winds gusting over 35 knots under clear sky and warm weather, starting with a round the cans inshore circuit in the Bay of Maldonado.
The South Atlantic was set to provide a strong welcome back to the Clipper Race fleet, with the overnight weather forecast predicting wind speeds in the mid-20s to mid-30s, but with strong gusts, estimated at 50 knots at times.
It will not be long before teams re-encounter the Trade Winds and get into the long, rolling swells of the Southern Atlantic on this 3,560-nautical mile route, heading head south towards the Southern Ocean with spinnakers flying.
Race Director, Mark Light, explains some of the challenges of the upcoming race, saying: “Key tactical decisions will need to be made early on.
“Heading south before turning east will mean a longer route for teams, but could offer more consistent wind. Heading east shaves off hundreds of nautical miles but could lead teams too close to the windless centre of the St Helena High (South Atlantic High) and halt progress.”
Dare To Lead has elected to play its Joker Card for this race, meaning that the team will double its race points. As a Capetonian himself, the team’s Skipper, Dale Smyth, explains: “I’m highly motivated – I’m sailing home so that’s good news for me.
“There is no way that anyone can ever claim to be familiar with the ocean, but in some ways, especially when it comes to the final approaches towards Cape Town and right in to Table Bay, that is my home territory and my home sailing ground.”
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is unique in that it is the only event on the planet which trains non-professional sailors to become ocean racers. Approximately 40 per cent of crew members have never sailed before they sign up.
Greenings won Race 1, from Liverpool, UK, to Punta del Este, though GREAT Britain currently leads the overall standings after successfully playing its Joker Card and also winning bonus points in the first Scoring Gate.
The Clipper 2017-18 Race fleet is due into Cape Town between 19-22 October and will be berthed at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront until 31 October.