Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday and last Thursday was the 103rd anniversary of the Armistice. I wrote about Remembrance in 2018 (see Blog 32: We will remember them … published 11 Nov 2018)
On Remembrance Sunday 2019 I was in Cape Town, the UNICEF team having finished 2nd in the Race from Punta del Este in Uruguay to Cape Town, South Africa. Leg 3 from Cape Town to Freemantle (which in our case was to include a medical emergency diversion to Durban) was still over a week away. My team mate Tim Chappell represented the UNICEF team at the Cape Town Remembrance service; I seem to recall I was mending sails. Blogs 94 through to 104 published between 31 Oct 2019 and 9 Jan 2020 covers all that for those that need reminding.
I wrote about Remembrance again last year (see Blog 124: 100 years ago, 2 years ago, 1 year ago, Next year? published 12 Nov 2020)
but when I started this blog I hadn’t envisaged a fourth Remembrance Sunday coming around before the Race finish. That said, Race restart is drawing nearer and my preps – professional, personal, domestic etc – are occupying more of my time, even if only “thinking time.” That changed, at least to a degree, on Friday with a rather lengthy and detailed update from Clipper HQ following recent talks with Philippines and Chinese authorities. The headline news is that it is looking increasingly likely that we will get into Subic Bay (I’ll come back to whether or not we will get out of the Philippines and where we might be going later!), but we will not be going to Sanya or Zhuhai, don’t know yet about Qingdao, and Race start will now be sometime in March and not 20th February. With me so far?
Busy readers can quit now. For readers with a bit more time, here are the details.
The Clipper team and the Philippines Inter-Agency Task Force Working Group (IATF-TWG) met on Wednesday of last week to discuss details to allow Race Crew and Race Staff to enter the Philippines for Race start next year. The net result, on Friday, was approval of a Special Event Permit with the following ”terms and conditions:
1. Through the Special Event Permit, the Philippines authorities will support Clipper Race Staff and Race Crew in obtaining a visa for entry as visa free entry is currently suspended. Details of how to apply will follow. The Permit applies to Race officials and Leg 6 Race Crew only. Race Crew Supporters and Crew for other Legs will not be allowed entry.
2. Unsurprisingly, we must all have been double vaccinated. (I am due my booster jab on 21st Nov).
3. We will be required to take an RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test within 72 hours prior to flight departure from country of origin and have proof of a negative result. So far so good (expected).
4. We must all the adhere to the Philippines quarantine protocols which are based on a traffic light system (stop me if you have heard this before!) by which the Philippines IATF classifies the COVID risk of individual countries. This risk classification determined the length of time we have to quarantine on arrival. The classifications are reviewed every two weeks.
GREEN: If double vaccinated there is no quarantine on arrival. Mainland China, Japan, India and South Africa are all amongst 44 countries classified GREEN. The UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand ……. are not currently on this list. However, Clipper themselves are enforcing a requirement for a minimum two day quarantine and a negative RT-PCR test, taken on day two, will be required before Race Crew can re-join.
YELLOW: If double vaccinated then we will be required to undergo a quarantine at an accredited quarantine hotel until the return of a negative RT-PCR test taken on day 5 (day 1 being the day of arrival). If the RT-PCR is negative then we move to ”home” quarantine until day 10. Under the terms of the Special Event Permit, this ”home quarantine will be undertaken on board the Clipper yachts whilst completing a 7 day Mandatory Refresher Training Course. The UK, USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand are all currently on the YELLOW list.
RED: If coming from a RED country Race Crew will need to stay in either a YELLOW or GREEN country for at least 14 days prior to departure to the Philippines. Crew would then follow either the YELLW or GREEN protocols (above) depending on their country of departure. The Faroe Island and The Netherlands are the current RED countries.
With 40 different countries represented in the Race this isn’t even as straight forward as it might first appear. Race Crew will be required to fly into the Philippines on an agreed date. Quarantine hotels must be hotels accredited as such by the Philippine Ministry of Tourism and travel from arrival airport to quarantine hotels will be prearranged as part of the Special Event Permit
So …….. if nothing else changes (feel free to remind me I actually just typed that!) ……. I fly to the Philippines with proof of a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before a flight date I don’t have yet, to go into a quarantine hotel I don’t know yet for 5 days. On day 5, provided I return another negative PCR test, I will be transferred to Subic Bay yacht club to join the UNICEF yacht, register, attend a safety brief then depart that day for a 7 day Mandatory Refresher sail, of which the first 5 days will qualify as my ”home” quarantine. For new Race Crew who have signed up for Leg 6 since the Race was postponed, this 7 day sail is the equivalent of Level 4 training (see Blog 81: Race 2 Day 3 latest ….. 4,800 nautical miles left to race, so let’s wind the clock back a bit, published 18 Sept 2018). After this training yachts will return to Subic Bay. Some crew will be able to stay onboard the yachts and the rest will move to approved hotels. Movements thereafter will be restricted to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Area and will be monitored for contact tracing. Subic Bay Yacht Club will have a designated Clipper Race area for us all during this time. All Race Crew will be required to conduct Lateral flow tests on Sundays and Wednesdays while in the Philippines.
Before Leg 6 Race Start we will be required to take a further RT-PCR test and return a negative result. After taking this test, we will all move onboard our respective yachts and stay onboard until the race starts. But where are we going?
Due to Government restrictions, both Sanya and Zhuhai Host Port Partners were unable to secure the required permissions to allow them to host the Clipper Race as planned. A potential stopover in Qingdao – China’s Olympic sailing centre – is still being discussed and Clipper hope to publish an up to date revised Clipper schedule by 29 November. In the meantime two Leg 6 Race options are being considered.
Option 1. If Qingdao confirms it can host the Race and process Chinese visas on arrival, then there will be an 8-10 day, 1,390 nautical mile race from Subic Bay to Qingdao followed by a stopover. Quarantine and testing routines have yet to be announced. The Leg would then complete with a 24-29 day, 5,580 nautical mile race across the North Pacific to Seattle.
Option 2. If Qingdao cannot host the Race then Leg 6 will start with an approximately 7 day race starting and finishing in Subic Bay. This would be followed by a 7 day prep period before the fleet races direct to Seattle, a race of 27-32 days and 6,100 nautical miles.
So, not for the first time, it’s watch this space!
For Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society see:
For UNICEF UK see:
Please take a look. Thank You.