18. Rules of Engagement

A little more on the actual race itself. The first pic below gives some detail which I shall attempt to flesh out. Before I do, I was asked if the last (proper) post should have been “kinky boats”, a pun I missed, so here at the top is a kinky boat from Liverpool!

The Race is divided into different legs, each having a race or two within it. Each race has three placings but every boat gets points in each race, so the overall winner has the most points over the whole Round The World. Clear? I’m sure there’s an easier way to describe it.

Once the race is underway it’ll be easy to see how the individual yachts are getting on by signing up to the Race Viewer on the Clipper website (link to follow once it’s active).

In addition to the details above, there are Scoring Gates, an imaginary “gate” in the sea through which the first three yachts get bonus points. There are also Ocean Sprints between two lines of latitude or longitude which again give points to the fastest. Some Skippers may ignore these if they think they can win an overall individual race by taking a different route, although there are also limits to how far South they can go (for safety).

Which is the quickest route?

AND THEN there is stealth mode, when you can “hide” from the other yachts (and us the supporters) for 24 hours if you think you might have an advantage in taking a particular route. The office will still be tracking the boat in case of difficulties so no need to panic if they disappear off the screen. Oh, and each team also has a Joker which they play once in the whole Race, scoring double points. This cannot be used on the Scoring Gates or Ocean Sprints: realistically you’d want to use it when you hope to double your first place of eleven points.

This all sounds very complicated but once they’re underway it’s pretty easy to follow, honestly. You may wonder why they don’t all follow the same “path”. Weather, my dear! Although all the boats are identical, the Skipper may think that there’s a better breeze (wind? tempest? whatever the weather throws up) coming along and try to take advantage of this by trimming the sails differently or taking a different more Northerly or Southerly route. Once you start watching them on the Race Viewer you’ll see that sometimes one goes way off course. He’s not lost, just trying to pick up a different sea current.

You’re now asking me what you win. Well, each race has a pennant for first, second and third:

Race winner Derry / Londonderry to Liverpool

As well as the first, second and third for each race, the sponsors may give a pennant. Here is last year’s Liverpool Team getting one for being good eggs (can’t remember exactly what they did, most sponsorship or something? Saving other people when their boat was sinking?) Just looked on the Clipper website, it doesn’t say exactly why they received it only that they would have been nominated by lots of people.

I’m not sure how much of this stuff is for the individuals but on the final race Team Seattle all had individual pennants for their second place win. Here’s a delighted recipient. I need to clear a space on the office walls for all the ones John is planning to bring home.

Finally, the winning yacht gets a big trophy. Here’s Wendy Tuck and Sanya Serenity Coast winning last year, with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on the right.

Clipper Round The World victors

All of this takes a massive amount of organising and they have a lot of coverage once they are out there. Last year there were about 30,000 stories in the various media that we have these days. Each boat has someone responsible for media; they’re given a waterproof camera, filming diaries and a daily blog on the team pages. At the end of the Race all the crew get the diaries, photos etc. You’ll be glad you’ve got me summarising it all for you once they set off this summer!

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