Clipper Yacht Race: Sailing in Close Proximity

The competitive spirit of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race has never been more apparent, with the vessels currently sailing in extremely close proximity. As the teams continue in Race 6 of the competition and head towards the Doldrums Corridor, everyone is enjoying the heightened competition and trying harder than ever to gain an advantage.

Clipper Yacht Race: Sailing in Close Proximity

One of the most important tactical decisions at this point in the race is if and when to use motor power: teams are permitted to use their vessel's motor at six knots for a single period of 240 miles. Making the decision to motor is notoriously difficult to judge and represents a gamble between mechanical advantages and weather conditions. Zhuhai was the first team to switch on their motor and is currently in first position, followed closely by Qingdao and Ha Long Bay.

At the time of writing, weather conditions were presenting plenty of challenges for the teams. As early as 6am, the mercury had already hit a scorching 32°C, making life more difficult for team members as they continue to sail. The skipper of Punta del Este summed things up with a simple comment: "the deck is melting and it's best not to touch anything metal."

As noted by Rich Gould, the skipper of WTC Logistics, it is unusual for the fleet to be so close together. He said: "gains and losses are clearly visible to the naked eye, not just represented by little pictures of boats on a screen and numbers on our run sheets. When you can physically see that you have gained on another team it helps keep the crew pushing."

Guy Waites, the skipper of Dare to Lead, compared the current close-proximity conditions to a 'multi-dimensional game of chess'. Seattle mate Lyndsay Barnes remarked on how the proximity is affecting the compe­titi­veness of the crew, saying: "Last night there were six of us all making our way North together in a line on time zero. To be able to see other boats on the horizon is definitely helping to keep the crew focused and their concen­tra­tion levels high.”

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