Before I start to tell you about the next race, a little information on the rules. You can find them on the Clipper website under “The Race”. There are general rules that apply over the whole year, governed by international sailing rules in the main, then course-specific ones for each individual race. Of interest today are the penalties, either in the form of a time penalty or in penalty points. The time penalty will reflect where you are positioned in that race, penalty points appear in a separate column in the race viewer “overall race” section (on a computer, not on a phone). As yet no penalty points have appeared but we expect that to change very soon.
If a boat is over the line when the start is signalled, they will have an hour added to their time, plus one minute for every second they are over the line. If they go around and recross the line the penalty will not apply but they’ll obviously lose time in doing this.
If they do not hand in the forms that are required before racing, at the appointed time, they will get two penalty points each for the three different forms that are required, so possibly six penalty points. Failure to hand the main ones in before starting to race will result in a disqualification for that race (no points awarded, wherever they come in the racing). For the others there are more penalty points as time passes with no forms appearing. Similar rules apply for the forms required at the end of the race, although instead of being disqualified they’ll get another two penalty points. Forgetting your paperwork could result in your having minus points for a race!
Opposite to penalties is redress. If a boat has to divert to help another Clipper yacht or any other vessel, they may be granted compensation for time lost. This could result in a yacht being bumped up the results table, such that the first three over the line may not always be the three on the podium.
For any sail repairs by external companies costing more than £500 over the whole race there will be two penalty points for every extra £500. For example, you spend £250 in Race 1 having a sail repaired, then £300 in Race 2, you’ve exceeded that £500 limit. If Race 3 requires repairs costing more than £450 you’ll reach £1000 and get two penalty points. If a sail cannot be repaired and has to be replaced, a penalty of five to eight points will be allotted (depending on which stage of the race that this happens). This is why sail repairs by the crew are so important. As well as the repairs that happen in port, there will be people down in the sail locker carrying out repairs during the racing. Unicef are lucky in having Holly, a circumnavigator (and surgeon), as the sail repairer. Qingdao also have a circumnavigator, Bertrand, but have lost Jo, who only signed up for Legs 1 and 2 and was very experienced at repairs. The same rules apply to lost or damaged equipment. In the last Race (2017-18) I’m told there were only a couple of boats that did not exceed these costs.
Course specific instructions will cover the exact position of the start and finish lines, the Scoring Gate and the Ocean Sprint. It will detail areas that cannot be entered, for example in Race 3, there was an exclusion zone of 3 nautical miles off parts of the coast around Cape Town, resulting in Punta del Este being knocked off the podium and leading to a Dawson One-Two of Qingdao and Unicef. I may have mentioned that already?
Enough technical stuff for today. Leg 3 consists of Race 4 only, from Cape Town in South Africa to Fremantle in Australia. Race 3 was described by many crew as “brutal”, constantly cold and wet. Race 4 is likely to be more of the same. Where Race 3 was around two weeks in length, Race 4 will be over three weeks. They leave Cape Town on Sunday 17th November and the arrival window is December 9th to 14th. I arrive very early on 9th so let’s hope I’m not kept waiting too long (nor that they are kept waiting for me).
As Cape Town was the end of a Leg, crew changes will be happening. For Qingdao, I think that four crew leave (two who did Legs 1 and 2, one who did Leg 2 only and one who will be returning on later legs). There will be an extra eight arriving, so overall Qingdao will gain four. For Unicef, five are leaving (three of whom did Leg 2 only, and two who will be rejoining the boat at a later leg). They are gaining seven, so an increase of two, although one of these did Leg 1 and is now returning for Leg 3. I know of other boats where people are leaving early, due either to illness or for personal reasons. I’m not aware of any getting off our two boats when they were expecting to continue.
I had promised the Race 3 results in this post but as Crew Briefing takes place later today (Saturday) and any penalty points accrued to date should be announced then, I’ll keep this for the next post. The midday gun has just been fired, MBB are on their boats preparing for the race start tomorrow and I have other things to do. More later. Bye for now from your Cape Town correspondent.