Regular readers will be aware that almost a year ago now I wrote two weather related blogs that made comment about my weather forecasting abilities (or not) and my personal experiences with hurricanes. See Blog 22: Florence, Mangkhut and Helene…… with memories of Michael Fish, Daria and Luis, published 17 September 2018 and Blog 23: The weather theme continued … but spare a thought and a prayer this Sunday for Abhilash Tomy, published 23 September 2018. I’ve enjoyed re-reading them this morning.
24 hours ago I started to write a blog with the title “Dollydrums! WHAT Dollydrums?????” following my previous attempt to explain the Doldrums and the doldrums corridor rules, as immediately ahead of the Clipper fleet, and directly across the doldrums was TROPICAL STORM LORENZO!!!! So much for flat calm and wind holes!!!!
(Jerry and Karen are interesting and Lorenzo starts at the 4 minute mark)
and for busier readers here is a shorter version…
So on the race tracker the normal shades of dark blue to light blue on the wind overlay indicating slack wind gradients and wind holes had been replaced with the much angrier looking darker oranges, reds and purples of 30knots + ….. some Windhole, some doldrums NOT!
However, this morning, normal doldrums service has been resumed. Lorenzo continues his charge NW into the Atlantic and the darker shades of blue and light winds have returned to the doldrums corridor. When last I checked Visit Sanya, leading the Fleet, was down to a speed-over-the-ground of 1.3 knots with over 3,200 nautical miles to run to Punta del Este. Which is just as well as I still have three “wind the clock back” catch-up-blogs to write before the end of the month!!!!
For Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society see
The Fleet appears to be split into two distinct packs of a lead group of 6 and a trailing pack of 5. Ha Long Bay Vietnam have been the first Yacht this edition of the Race to use Stealth Mode, emerging from their invisibility cloak in 3rd place. Right now the leading yachts are off the coast of Western Sahara roughly half way between the Canary Islands and Cape Verde Islands. The Scoring Gate lies ahead, with Sanya, Qingdao and Ha Long Bay looking best placed but there is still much to play for. Further ahead, but drawing ever closer, is the Doldrums and the Doldrums Corridor.
Now for the busy reader I can cover the Doldrums Corridor rules in just five words ……… You Can Use Your Motor.
Simples. Busy readers may now move on.
But, like most things Clipper it’s not really quite that simple. As I touched on in a previous blog (see Blog 80: They’re Off Again, published 15 September), the Doldrums, or the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is the area where the northeast and southeast trade winds converge. It encircles the globe near the thermal equator, though its specific position varies with the seasons. Within the ITCZ the average winds are slight. As trans-Atlantic sailing became more common-place in the 18th Century, sailors named this belt the doldrums because of the calm, inactive winds. To avoid, or rather reduce the time Clipper yachts may be becalmed within the ITCZ the Doldrums Corridor and the Rules were established.
For those interested in the detail ………
The positioning of Doldrums Corridor and the North and South Gates are defined in the race instructions. Both lie north of the equator for this race and look like this:
Each yacht is permitted to use its engine whilst in the Corridor subject to the following criteria:
Yachts are ONLY allowed to motor-sail for a maximum of 6 degrees of Latitude which must take a minimum time of 60 hours to complete.
All yachts MUST cease motor-sailing at 3 degrees North regardless of whether they have completed 6 degrees of latitude under engine.
All yachts MUST declare their intention to motor-sail a minimum of 3 hours before doing so. 60 hours elapsed time will begin to be calculated from this declared time regardless of whether the engine is being used or not.
When a yacht’s engine is started or stopped a declaration must be made to the Race Office within 3 hours, stating the time UTC, latitude and longitude and a digital photograph taken. This will allow the calculation of 6 degrees of latitude to be made.
If 6 degrees of latitude is covered by the yacht before 60 hours has elapsed the yacht must REMAIN at that position of latitude. A declaration must be made to the Race Office within 3 hours and a digital photo taken.
If a yacht must wait for 60 hours to elapse then before resuming racing it must return to its declared latitude. A declaration must be made to the Race Office within 3 hours after resuming racing and a digital photo taken so that the restart position can be verified.
Once a yacht has declared their intention to motor-sail the request cannot be rescinded.
All yachts MUST report their time of crossing latitude 9 degrees North within 3 hours of doing so regardless of whether they are sailing or not. This is so an elapsed time of 60 hours can be calculated, if for example a team decide to start motor-sailing at 5 degrees N they clearly cannot complete 6 degrees of latitude before 3 degrees N is reached.
Ruth is SO glad she asked!!!!!
For Diabetes and the National Autistic Society see:
Ok so with just less than 5000 miles still left to race its clear everyone (eventually) chose to close the Moroccan coast rather than stick to the Rhumb line route, in search of stronger winds. Right now it’s beginning to look like Punta del Este may chose the route between the Canary Islands with the rest of the leading pack – Sanya, Qingdao, Dare to Lead, Ha Long Bay Vietnam and Unicef currently shaping to go between the Canary Islands and the African coast. It’s Leg 1, Race 2, Day 3, Hour 4! Time to wind the clock back and catch up with Blogs I never quite got around to writing……..
Firstly the Unicef team-building weekend 🙂 A full weekend, in more ways than one, over the first full weekend in July when ALL Clipper teams, with as many crew members as each could muster, “disappeared” on team building weekends around the country. We chose to descend on Blackwood Forest in Hampshire. We had a very good turn out – over 30 of us – in log cabins throughout the forest coming together for various team building exercises and events, eating together, a great BBQ, a perfect opportunity to get to know each other, and the environment in which to discuss our group aims, our hopes, our strategies and our values. If any of you have ever done similar corporate events then you can imagine exactly what we got up to!
To cut a long story short it was an excellent event, well planned by those of the team who volunteered to organise it way back at Crew Allocation, facilitated extremely well by skipper Ian and AQP Mike and as much fun as I can remember having in a field/forest with …………..…. pieces of pasta and marshmallows (building a free standing structure with other crew doing Leg 6 across the Pacific!), multiple variations on the game of “tag”, some GPS assisted (or in our case not really assisted) orienteering – I think today’s posh word for this is Geotagging or some such! and a rather ingenious race involving a fresh chicken’s egg (and in the Leg 6 team’s case socks and a single training shoe) in which we achieved a podium finish and only lost out on top spot by “rounding a mark” on the wrong side – a ruling which we strongly refuted but as the skipper was the sole judge we eventually chose discretion as the better part of valour and shut up!
Sophie, standing, far left.
Two days later I was back down in Gosport, back onboard a now branded Unicef boat (CV31) for the second time (see also Blog 60: Level 3 Training, Part 2, published 4 May 2019) for my final Level 4 training. This was a first time to sail with both Ian and Mike, with a crew made up entirely of other Unicef crew members: Ian (skipper), Mike (AQP), Angie (circumnavigator), Sarah (Leg 4), Sophie (Legs 1 and 3), Ursi (Legs 1 and 8), Jo (Leg 7) , Lis (Legs 6, 7 and 8), Juscinta (Leg 5), Anthonie (Legs 1, 2 and 3), Shaneil (Leg 6), Beau (Leg 4) , Giacomo (Leg 4) and me! (Legs 2, 3, 6 and 8). So Ian, Mike, Angie, Sophie, Ursi and Anthonie are afloat right now and I will race at some point with Ian, Mike, Angie, Sophie, Ursi, Lis, Anthonie, and Shaneil.
Level 4 started with collecting our Musto kit (See Blog 24: Does/Will My Bum Look Big In This?, published 28 September 2018) and finished with the usual Clipper Race Assessment (the Test!) another deep clean, and a late lunch in the Boathouse. In between we practised towing another Clipper yacht and being towed, transferring stores and personnel via the yacht’s dingy (in this case “Bob” the man-overboard dummy simulating a casualty), hoisted storm sails, anchored, practised racing line-starts, practiced a “Le Mans” start, hoisted/letter-box dropped/packed/and re-hoisted(!) all three codes of Spinnaker and the lighter “wind-seeker” sail (it does what it says on the tin!) and, over the last few days raced the other 10 Clipper yachts – also at sea on Level 4 training – around the Solent and across the English Channel, along the coast of Normandy in sight of beaches I know well from the shore-side perspective, and then back to Portsmouth. We experienced life at an angle (again) and in my case the difficulty of getting into a top bunk at 40odd degrees and the “pain” of being becalmed – quite literally going NOWHERE – in very light airs for a 6 hour period. The racing aspects taught us how to do everything we had safely done during Levels 1, 2 and 3 but much, much faster!
Three one-second video clips!:
and I promise I am actually packing that spinnaker not just hugging it!
Flat calm and going nowhere fast!:
I’ll admit I’m rather envious of Ian, Mike, Angie, Sophie, Anthonie and Ursi off the Moroccan coast right now.
Race 2 of Leg 1 from Portimao, Portugal to Punta del Este in Uruguay starts in just a little under 20 minutes time. 5,195 nautical miles across the Atlantic, across the equator for the first time (and the crossing the line ceremony where King Neptune visits and Pollywogs become Shellbacks – “obviously” I can hear you say …. more about that in a future blog!) and through the doldrums, this race is expected to take about 30 days with the yachts expected into Punta del Este in the window 14-16 October and Ruth and I fly to South America on the 7th😀 The first tactical decision is likely to be in the vicinity of the Canary Islands. Do you route east, west or straight through? Pick the wrong route and you can get caught in the lee of the land. The Doldrums, are both a physical and a mental challenge with unpredictable conditions, big wind holes, squalls, and high temperatures.
With a further 11 race points available for the first yacht across the line, bonus points are again available via a Scoring Gate to port of the rhumb line track, this time off the coast of Mauritania and north of the Cape Verde Islands and an Ocean Sprint off the NE coast of Brazil between 5 degrees and 10 degrees south of the equator. To cope with the doldrums, a doldrums corridor also exists – more about the tactics of the Doldrums Corridor in a future blog. The Scoring Gate, Doldrums corridor and Ocean Sprint positions are available on the Race Viewer (See Blog 75: The Race Viewer – and a health warning. This can be addictive, published 2 September) for those following the Race (and who, like me, are already addicted). If you haven’t taken a look then I would recommend it.
And in “breaking news” Qingdao and Punta del Este have both elected to play their joker on this race, thus potentially doubling their race points. So there is much up for grabs.
Race 1 turned out to be even more gripping to watch on Race Viewer than I had imagined, more so I suspect because of my own imminent involvement, but even guests at my brother’s wedding were hooked on it last weekend!
All eleven teams managed to experience pretty such everything in this first Race, from strong tidal conditions and light, if not very light winds in the Thames Estuary, strong upwind conditions for the first three days in the English Channel and then great downwind surfing conditions sailing down the Bay of Biscay. For those not used to ocean sailing then upwind sailing can be very tough – the boats are heeled over at 45 degrees and even moving around below decks takes great effort. It saps energy and even makes going to the heads (toilet), getting dressed, and getting in and out of your bunk tough, demanding evolutions. The downwind conditions in the Bay may well have flattened the Fleet off and produced a more even boat but with strong winds from astern the fleet screamed down the west coast of Portugal with boats frequently experiencing speeds in excess of 25 knots. At one stage the UNICEF team – pretty much EVERYONE apart from the Mother Watch preoparing meals – were gathered at the stern, behind the helm, to help balance the boat and keep the stern in the water and thus the boat under control. So much for time “off watch!”
Those following on Race Viwer will already know that Qingdao, Unicef and GoToBermuda jockeyed for the lead leaving the Channel and across the Bay of Biscay and for pretty much all of the scream down the Portuguese Coast. Unicef chose not to head for the Scoring Gate but the 3 Chinese boats, Qingdao, Visit Sanya and Zhuhai all did notching up 3, 2 and 1 points respectively, the first points of the 2019-2020 Race. Unicef were the first boat to cross both the start line and the finish line of the Ocean Sprint, with Qingdao hot on their heels but neither boat scored. Fastest across the Ocean Sprint was Punta del Este (15 hours, 2 minutes and 26 seconds), second fastest was Ha Long Bay Vietnam (15 hours, 51 minutes and 4 seconds) and third fastest Zhuhai (15 hours and 53 minutes), picking up 3, 2 and 1 point respectively. The highest reported yacht speed was logged at 29.7 knots onboard Ha Long Bay Vietnam.
In the closing stages of the race it was nip and tuck between Qingdao and Unicef but both were caught in very light wind conditions – it actually took Unicef almost 24 hours to complete the last 20 miles, and both boats were beaten into Portimao by Punta del Este and Dare to Lead, both of whom made best use of fickle wind conditions and, as the land cools off at night and the sea remains warm, a breeze can develop between the land and the sea that can probably go out a couple of miles. Punta del Este and Dare to Lead both proved that it is worth looking for! The relatively slow finish meant night-time arrival with Punta del Este finishing at 00:45 and 22 secs UTC on 9th Sept, one hour and 3 seconds ahead of Dare to Lead. Unicef finished 6th a little over 6 minutes behing Visit Sanya and mere minutes ahead of Imagine Your Korea finishing in 7th.
As someone in the Unicef team joked on social media, “We’re pretty good at Ocean Racing but need to improve on getting into port!”
The full arrival times were:
Punta del Este 00:45:22 Total points: 14 (11 for 1st and 3 for Ocean Sprint)
Dare to Lead 01:45:25 Total Points: 10
Qingdao ? Total Points: 12 (9 for 3rd and 3 for Scoring Gate)
Zhuhai 02:55:04 Total Points: 10 (8 for 4th and 1ea for OS and SG)
Visit Sanya 03:17:22 Total Points: 9 (7 for 5th and 2 for Scoring Gate)
Unicef 03: Total Points: 6
Imagine Your Korea 03:25:04 Total Points: 5
Ha Long Bay Vietnam 04:09:12 Total Points: 6 (4 for 8th and 2 for Ocean Sprint)
GoToBermuda 05:00:12 Total Points: 3
Seattle 11:48:50 Total Points: 2
WTC Logistics 13:38:03 Total Points: 1
………… and in other breaking news my joining instructions for Leg 2 arrived yesterday!!! and behind closed doors in the sitting room (beyond the reach of Arthur the dog) my packing is beginning to take shape.
Thank you to all who have already donated to my various charity causes. As I explained when I first set up this blog back in April 2018, I am funding my participation in the 2019-2020 Race, my additional insurance, all my kit, and all the travel myself. But I am
also raising money for 3 charities – Diabetes UK, the National Autistic Society and UNICEF UK. I’ve written before about the last two (See Blog 35: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time …… and The Reason I Jump, published 26 Nov 2018 – and incidentally one of my favourite blog posts – plus Blog 36: PS…The photo that almost got away!, published
9 December 2018, plus Blog 43: Thank you to all who donated last year, published 9 January 2019 and Blog 46: Making Waves for Children – UNICEF, published 7 February 2019 – before I knew I was part of the UNICEF team.
I will write about diabetes and my condition before I depart for South America in a little over 3 weeks time but in the meantime here are the links to my JustGiving pages:
The Clipper Fleet completes the 1200 nautical miles of Race 1, Leg 1 from the UK to Portimao in Portugal today and its going to be a very close finish!
For those not already addicted to the Race View (see Blog 75, The Race Viewer – and a health warning. This can be addictive!, published 2 Sept) then, as per the last update about 20 minutes ago, after 6 Days and 18 minutes racing, Qingdao lead team UNICEF by 1.5 miles with just under 40 nautical miles left to race.
For those of you who wish, you can view the Race finish at
The winning yacht in each individual race is awarded 11 points, second place gets 10 points and so on down to 1 point for eleventh place. The team with the highest cumulative points total at the end of the circumnavigation will win the Clipper Race trophy.
Simples …….. well not quite.
Within individual races, teams may gain additional points via tactical bonus point opportunities. Most races will have at least one “Scoring Gate.” A “Scoring Gate” is a virtual gate between two points along the race track that each team can chose whether to pass through or not. The first three teams to cross the gate gain extra points: 3 points for first, 2 points for second, and 1 point for third. The position of the “Scoring Gate” is usually some distance off the main rhumb line (the shortest distance between the race start and race finish ports), making the decision to go for it, or not, a tactical one. Do you increase the distance you sail to pick up extra points?
Each race is also likely to include at least one “Ocean Sprint.” An “Ocean Sprint” is a time trial between two pre-set lines of longitude or latitude. The fastest three teams crossing these lines, irrespective of overall race position, gain extra bonus points: 3 points for the quickest crossing, 2 points for the second quickest and one point for the third quickest. There is one “Scoring Gate” and one “Ocean Sprint” on the first race down to Portimao in Portugal.
Each team has the opportunity to play their Joker once during the circumnavigation, resulting in doubling their finishing points for that particular race only. Jokers must be declared before race start. Any bonus points won will not be doubled by the Joker, only race points. No teams have opted to play their Jokers on the current Leg 1, Race 1.
Penalty points may be applied by the Race Committee to any team for loss or damage to general equipment, damage to sails or infringement of any of the race rules. Penalty points will be calculated and announced/applied at the end of each of the 8 Legs of the Race.
And finally, Stealth Mode. This doesn’t attract points but each team is allowed to go into Stealth Mode. Each team has the opportunity for up to two 24 hour periods in each race to have their position hidden from other competitors (and the public). This could be useful to hide certain tactical/routing decisions particularly when out of sight/out of AIS range of other teams. Teams must give the Race HQ no less than 6 hours notice and Stealth Mode cannot be used within 250 nautical miles of the finish line of each individual race.
Right now I’m going into Stealth Mode as I’m off to Old Trafford in the morning to watch Day 1 of the Fourth Ashes Test Match against Australia 😉
BRILLIANT day in London yesterday as part of the UNICEF team on Race Start day. The atmosphere was fantastic and I will blog about it just as soon as I sort through the plethora of photos and screen shots, the latter taken by friends who were tuned-in and watching the live stream I advertised in the previous blog (Blog 74: The 2019-2020 Race Line Up and Starting Stats, published 1 September) on both sides of the Atlantic! As someone pithily commented, at least one of the TV cameramen clearly took a shine to Ruth…… more to follow on all that.
I ‘ve written before about ways to follow the race (see Blog 68: It’s Time ….. almost for me but definitely for YOU, published 26 July) and there is MORE………. you can follow on:
or the UNICEF team in particular #thebigblueclipperboat
or even ME #keith.winstanley.1232
Facebook: Clipper Round The World Yacht Race
or UNICEF at Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race – Unicef
BUT if you really want to follow the Race you simply have got to try out the official Race Viewer at http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/standings. Having followed the Race Viewer myself during the previous edition I have to admit it can be addictive! During the 2017-2018 Race, Race Viewer received in excess of 4.35 million page views globally, from 162 different countries.
Race Viewer allows you to track all 11 yachts at any time you wish during all 40,000 nautical miles of the race. Bespoke to the Clipper Race, the web based Race Viewer has been tried and tested in excess of 120,000 nautical miles of ocean racing allowing Race Crew Supporters and everyone else to track their loved one’s and friends location 24 hours a day, over all 228 days of racing on both desktop and mobile devices.
For race followers interested in the finer tactical detail, a host of tools are available including brand new additions for the 2019-2020 Race. “We’ve developed a range of tools which give greater context to any tactical decisions made by each team. Weather layers can be activated to show current and forecast wind, swell, air pressure and temperature and even an enhanced rewind feature so followers can catch up on any racing action,” explains George Loader, Digital Marketing Officer at the Clipper Race.
Race Viewer 2019-2020 went “live” as the yachts left London yesterday before the Race Start proper off Southend Pier at 10am this morning. If you go to the official website at http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com you can find the Race Viewer on the drop down menu. Positions are updated once an hour but the yachts themselves only receive position updates relative to the other boats twice a day. Not so much bother when yachts are in sight of each other but its an eagerly awaited update in mid-ocean, as I expect to find out next month! !You can zoom in and zoom out on the map and if you hover your mouse/pointer over each coloured boat symbol you can identify the team, their SOG (speed over the ground), COG (Course over the ground) the DTF (distance to the finish of ther current race) and the time the position was last updated. Below the map you will see the Race Clock – currently in the ninth hour of the race – and the second place will list the current race standings including the distance each yacht is currently behind the leader. Accordsing to the 1800 update the yachts are currently off Ramsgate with Ha Long Bay, Vietnam in the lead. It’s a very close run thing though and only 3.38 nautical miles separates 1st from 11th …… but don’t take my word for it…. get on line and check it out!