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Crazy Winds and the Coronavirus Causes Delays and Course Alterations
As the leaders in the 2019-2020 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race are getting close to the final stretch of Race 6, the weatherman has given them some bad news. This news came after the skippers already experienced the discomfort of altering their courses because of the coronavirus outbreak. This means that, even though Ha Long Bay, Vietnam has enjoyed a cushy lead so far, turbulent weather conditions could shuffle the order.
A Mixed Response from Skippers
WTC Logistics skipper Rich Gould, currently in fifth place, is expecting some light but potentially fluctuating winds to challenge his current position. He is concerned that the final stretch of the race of just over 300 miles will not go as well as his experience has been until now. UNICEF skipper Ian Wiggan, currently in seventh place, spoke about expecting a massive wind hole in the last stretch. Unlike Gould, Wiggan is more positive about the effect of the shifting weather patterns on the race. He believes that his yacht can soldier through the changing conditions and is hoping that it may even improve his position instead of compromising it.
A Challenging Race
The unpredictable weather conditions have already delayed progress by about a day, and the first teams are now only expected to arrive around 13 February. This is not the first delay the annual race has experienced so far. Race 6 was already postponed twice, and the 11 teams finally only left on 22 January, instead of the initially scheduled date of 18 January. The first delay was due to three boats experiencing water maker issues and the next was due to light winds.
Besides unexpected delays, the race also had a course change, affecting the fifth leg. Divided into three races, this leg was meant to end in Sanya, China, but because of the coronavirus outbreak, the course of the second race was changed, and the fleet will bypass the Chinese coast. It will instead end at Subic Bay in the Philippines, where the second of the three races was initially meant to conclude.
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race
The Clipper Round the World race was initiated by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in 1996. Knox-Johnston is known for being the first person who sailed solo around the world, non-stop. His idea was to allow anyone to experience the thrill of racing across the ocean, no matter how much experience they have. The race is held biennially and is the only event of its kind open to amateur sailors. This year, the course was divided into 15 races over eight legs. It started on 1 September 2019 when 11 fleets left with identical Clipper 70 yachts manned by a total of 688 crew members that represent 43 nationalities from across the world. The course stretches over 41,000 nautical miles, and the race is expected to finish on around the 8th of August 2020.