Ever since the 11 teams of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race had been on course from Australia to China, the Clipper Race Organizing Committee has been dodging bullets.
Expected to arrive by mid-February, the coronavirus outbreak has since required a series of course revisions to avoid Sanya, Zhuhai, and Qindao. But a month later, with nowhere to go, the committee was forced to make an unprecedented decision:
With the ongoing global outbreak of COVID-19 and the enormous impact it has created on world travel, the Clipper 2019-20 Race has been postponed with immediate effect.
This decision has been in no way taken lightly. Our crew are currently under quarantine in Subic Bay, Philippines, where the Clipper Race fleet has been berthed since March 15. The island of Luzon (where Subic Bay is located) is currently under “enhanced community quarantine”.
In addition, the fleet was due to race across the North Pacific Ocean from March 21 towards Seattle. However, with that city currently in a state of emergency and travel and medical insurance restrictions in the United States, we could not allow our teams to depart without a viable destination.
This, along with the growing global uncertainty on how the situation could develop in the coming months, meant postponing the race was the safest option for all involved.
Our first priority, as soon as the local quarantine has been lifted, will be to assist our crew in Subic Bay in travelling home from the Philippines as swiftly as possible.
The Clipper 2019-20 Race has three legs remaining. These race stages will now be postponed for approximately ten months, when the remaining circumnavigation will be completed. This length of postponement allows for us to avoid adverse weather patterns on the remainder of our global route.
All Leg 6, 7 and 8 crew, along with our circumnavigators, will be able to rejoin the race when it resumes next year.
This postponement will have an impact on the timing of future races. The next full edition of the Clipper Race will start in the summer of 2022. More details on this will be confirmed at a later date.
We are extremely disappointed to postpone the remainder of the Clipper 2019-20 Race. We are proud of all of our intrepid crew for having competed in this race edition since it departed London and look forward to welcoming all of our upcoming crew next year when the race continues. We are also grateful to all of our crew, supporters and Race Partners for their continued support.
Current Leg description with stopover ports:
Leg 6: Asia to Western USA (Subic Bay, Seattle)
Leg 7: Western USA to Bermuda (Seattle, Panama, New York, Hamilton)
Leg 8: Bermuda to United Kingdom (Hamilton, Derry-Londonderry, London)
Course change: The fifth leg was to be divided into three races (6, 7, 8), with the first race to finish in Sanya, China. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, a course change during Race 6 from The Whisundays was enacted and the fleet finished in Subic Bay, Philippines.
Additionally, Races 7 and 8 were combined to avoid the Race 8 finish port of Zhuhai, China. The course for Race 7/8 took the fleet north from the Philippines, across the Luzon Strait and around the western most cluster of the Japanese Ryukyu Islands before returning to Subic Bay for the finish.
Furthermore, the original course for Races 9 and 10 of the sixth leg had to be revised as the Chinese ports of Zhuhai and Qindao were not deemed safe to visit. Race 9 became a 750 nautical mile triangular course in the South China Sea, starting and finishing in Subic Bay, with Race 10 to start in Subic Bay before extending across the Pacific Ocean to Seattle, USA.
However, now with the Clipper 2019-20 Race under postponement, it is not yet known whether there will be further changes to the Race 10 course.
About the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race:
The Clipper Race was established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-69. His aim was to allow anyone, regardless of previous sailing experience, the chance to embrace the thrill of ocean racing; it is the only event of its kind for amateur sailors.
Held biennially, the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race gets underway September 1 for the fleet of eleven identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. This 12th edition has attracted 688 crew representing 43 nationalities for the 41,000+ nm course. The race finishes on August 8.
The course is divided into 8 legs and 15 individual races, with some of the crew in for the entire circumnavigation while others will do individual legs. The team having the best cumulative score over the entire course will win the Clipper Race Trophy.
The Clipper 2019-20 Race Route:
The fleet departs from London, UK to Portimão, Portugal; across the Atlantic to Punta del Este, Uruguay; the South Atlantic to Cape Town, South Africa; across the Southern Ocean’s Roaring Forties to Fremantle, Western Australia; around to the Whitsundays on the east coast of Australia, back into the Northern Hemisphere to China where teams will race to Qingdao, via Sanya and Zhuhai; across the mighty North Pacific to Seattle, USA; to New York via the famous Panama Canal; to Bermuda and then it’s a final Atlantic crossing to Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland; before arriving back to London as fully proven ocean racers.
Source: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race
Published on March 17th, 2020