109. Limbo Latest …… the roulette wheel continues to spin

RouletteTable-58c2bb9a5f9b58af5c9ea220Those readers who follow the official Clipper website or keep half an eye on social media will have seen the latest update on Sunday and be aware of much of what follows. For everyone else, here’s the current/latest/forecast/possible/potential plan(s).

Firstly the remainder of Leg 5 – the current leg. Originally programmed as a three race leg: Australia to Sanya, China (with an arrival window of 10th-15th Feb and a stopover until 21st Feb) then to Subic Bay in the Philippines (with an arrival window of 25th-26th Feb and a stopover until 28th Feb) and then to Zhuhai, China (with an arrival window of 2nd-3rd Mar for crew change on 4th Mar and a stopover until 9th Mar when Leg 6 would start), the boats are now all in Subic Bay. The race from Australia to Subic Bay was won by WTC Logistics (their first podium finish) with Qindao and Ha Long Bay, Vietnam in second and third respectfully. Someone has to come 11th and this time it was UNICEF.


2019-20 original routeD_2Xr1BX4AAUytp
The original Clipper 2019-2020 Race Route

On Sunday it was announced that the two remaining races of Leg 5 would be combined into one race that would start and finish in Subic Bay. The Clipper Race stated that they remain proud of their longstanding relationship with its Partners and friends in China but this means that the stopovers in Sanya and Zhuhai are now officially cancelled. The Race will resume on 23rd Feb and the “new Leg 5 finish race” will cover 1600 nautical miles, roughly the equivalent of the original two races. The new route will see the fleet race north from the Philippines, across the Luzon Strait and around the western most cluster of the Japanese Ryukyu Islands (Osumi, Tokara, Amami, Okinawa and Sakishima). They will then race downwind east of Taiwan and battle against the notorious Kuroshio Current which flows north and east of Taiwan, before heading back towards the Philippines and Subic Bay.

SEAsiatmp718674606201765889In a variation of the scoring rules (See Blog 76: How The Clipper Race Is Scored, published 3 September 2019) there will be two Ocean Sprints and two Scoring Gates on this race. Teams will have to declare in advance, 48 hours before race start, which of the Ocean Sprints they wish to go for. The two Scoring Gates will be placed either side of the rhumb line route and teams can decide whilst racing which optional Scoring Gate they wish to compete for. Further details will be briefed to the crews during the Leg 5 Race 7 Crew Brief on 22nd Feb. And obviously the upshot of all this from a personal perspective is that I now know I will be rejoining team UNICEF in Subic Bay, Philippines.

Sunday’s announcement, some 10 days before Ruth and I were originally programmed to fly out, also confirmed that the joining date for those arriving for Leg 6 will be 6th March, refresher training will be conducted at sea on 7th March, there will be a full prep day on 8th March and Race Start will be …………. watch this roulette/limbo space while race options are finalised.

qingdao-locator-mapThree options are now being considered for the two races that will comprise Leg 6. Option 1 remains a first race to Qingdao in northern China, stopover, and then onto Seattle, USA. The original Qingdao arrival window was 17th-19th March with a stopover until 26th March. Clipper have caveated this option with the statement that they will not risk the safety of its crew or staff and in light of the current coronavirus outbreak, this option will only proceed if it is safe to do so. If I were to spin the roulette wheel on this one are there any takers?korea_map-2

Option 2 is to race from Subic Bay north to a port yet-to-be-decided in South Korea. Right now your guess is as good as mine. After a stopover we would then race across the North Pacific to Seattle.

Option 3 is to race from Subic Bay to Yokohama, Japan and then onto Seattle. Yokohama, as coronavirus-watchers will be aware, is currently “home” to the cruise liner the Diamond Princess.

In each option the arrival window into Seattle remains 19th-24th April with a stopover until 2nd May.

Limbo travel planning for me continues but Ruth has decided to hang up her limbo pole for the short term and will be in Seattle to meet me from whichever direction I ultimately appear!


For Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society see




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