Then t’were well it were done quickly.
No, I’m not planning an assassination, unlike Macbeth. I’m referring to JD’s round the world attempt. There’s a new Clipper calendar but I’ll try to summarise the plans for you. There are no cocktails today so feel free to stop reading now.
We’ve had numerous updates since late November, I’ve been putting off this update in case things change but I think this is probably all until January. The arrival dates below are approximate; as we know from the first half of the race, not all boats arrive at the same time!
The Clipper Maintenance Team will be travelling out to Subic Bay in mid January to recommission the yachts. The Skippers and AQPs will be arriving in The Philippines on 1st February. The container holding all the serviced life-rafts, life-jackets etc has already left the UK and will be there to meet the team in January. All that will be missing is Crew! They have to arrive around 22nd February in order to be on the yachts on 28th February, after their quarantine period.
I detailed the requirements being applied for entry to Subic Bay and the precautions being taken in my last Blog Post. JD has now booked his flight to Subic Bay for 21st February, into Clark International, my point of arrival all those months ago. This date assumes that the UK will not become a Red List country for The Philippines. If so, he’d need to spend two weeks in a Yellow or Green country after leaving the UK and before entering The Philippines. The list is updated every two weeks so we’re keeping a watchful eye on that. Currently the UK is Yellow. There are a number of Green countries, mostly islands or African or Asian countries. If the UK went Red it could cause a lot of head scratching for crew members deciding where to go to spend the extras fortnight needed (Rwanda? Oman? Kosovo? Japan? The Falklands?). Luckily, crew can book marine fares which allow (relatively) easy changes to travel plans. The next steps are, I think, to book an approved hotel then be issued a Visa.
1) The Route
Leg 6 Subic Bay to Seattle (20th March 2022 to 19th April 2022)
China is currently not accepting foreign nationals or issuing visas for visits like Clipper. The quarantine requirements for each time a person enters the country is 21 days and unavoidable, so the three stopovers in China (Sanya, Zhuhai and Qingdao) are not viable. The Leg 6 route has been updated to reflect this.
Leg 6 Race Crew will undertake mandatory refresher training at Subic Bay followed by a 4 to 5 day Subic Bay to Subic Bay points scoring race, followed by a final five day preparation. The fleet will then depart to cross the North Pacific to Seattle.
My first meeting up with JD and the rest of the teams could thus be April, assuming that the world has settled down and I feel confident enough to take the risk of possible quarantines. There’s also the possibility that they will be in bubbles confined to the port areas, in which case I could fly out only to re-enact our Romeo-and-Juliet scenes of Subic Bay Yacht Club!
It’s not possible to sail from Subic Bay any earlier due to undesirable weather crossing the North Pacific nor leave Panama any later, to avoid the Caribbean hurricane season.
Leg 7 Seattle to Panama, Panama to Bermuda (30th April 2022 to 12th June 2022)
The first stage of Leg 7 (Seattle to Panama) remains unchanged from the original plan. It was then to go to New York then Bermuda. Unfortunately, Bermuda has the Newport Bermuda race taking place in June 2022, meaning that Clipper cannot stop in Bermuda from 21 to 28 June. The New York and Bermuda stopovers have thus been switched and fleet will race from Panama to Bermuda, which is now the changeover port for Leg 8.
Leg 8 Bermuda to New York, New York to Derry/Londonderry, Derry/Londonderry to London
The fleet will sail from Bermuda on 19th June, arriving in New York on 24th June. They will leave New York on 29th June to arrive in Derry/Londonderry on 16th July, then leave for London on 24th July. After heading over the top of the UK (around Scotland), the Race Finish will be at London’s Royal Docks on 30th July 2022.
Not all the Skippers are able to return, but we still have Rob Graham on Imagine your Korea, David ‘Wavy’ Immelman on GoToBermuda, David Hartshorn on Seattle, Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez on Punta del Este, Josh Stickland on Ha Long Bay, VietNam, Chris Brooks on Qingdao and Ian Wiggin on Unicef. The four new Skippers include two former AQPs, Dan Jones and Mike Miller: Dan on WTC Logistics and Mike on Visit Sanya, China. Then there are two new Skippers for us to get to know, Patrick van der Zijden and Nigel Parry. Patrick (who was a Skipper in the 2013/14 Race) will be joining Zhuhai and Nigel will be on Dare To Lead. He is a Clipper Race Training Skipper so not new to the fleet.
We can see above that Unicef has lost Mike: he was on Sanya in the previous race (which Sanya won) so he’s ‘coming home’. The majority of AQP’s have left for other jobs so I’ll not name all the new ones. Unicef has Daniel Bodey, who was a circumnavigator before, so knows the boat and crew. Another Unicef crew member, Bruce Anderson, is jumping ship and will be AQP on Qingdao.
You might have picked up that they need to consider not just Covid and country restrictions but also the weather. I love the fact that we name severe weather events. They used all to be female but now, for fairness, they alternate. Hurricane names for 2021 were Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Julian, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, Wanda. I touched on one before: Sam was a long-lived storm, forming on September 22 and not dissipating until October 9, reaching peak intensity of 155 mph on September 26. Bermuda was briefly placed under a tropical storm watch but was spared major impacts. Using ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy), Sam produced the most ACE of the 2021 hurricane season and the 5th highest on record. Since the satellite era, there have only been 12 storms, now including Sam, that maintained hurricane status over 11 days.
Other sailing ventures are also being planned by other mad people. I’m only interested (if that’s the right word) in round the world efforts so here are a few details of races coming up in the next couple of years: Jules Verne Trophy, The Golden Globe, The Ocean Race starting in January 2023, The Solo Ultim and The Global Solo Challenge.
Starting with Jules Verne, this is an attempt to break the world record for sailing around the world. A few details of the latest attempt were given in Post 128 dated 30th October. The ‘Sails of Change’ should have set off in November but on 25th they decided the weather conditions in the South Atlantic were unsuitable and so postponed their attempt. I’m not sure when they’ll try again. Nine of the eleven sailors have previously been involved in a Jules Verne Trophy attempt so they know what they’re letting themselves in for. The team has been on standby since November 1st. To put into perspective how difficult it is to win the Jules Verne Trophy, of thirty-three departures off Ushant, only nine have been successful: Commodore-Explorer in 1993 (79 days 06 hours), Enza-New Zealand in 1994 (74d 22h), Sport-Elec in 1997 (71d 14h), Orange in 2002 (64d 08h), Geronimo in 2004 (63d 13h), Orange II in 2005 (50d 16h), Groupama 3 in 2010 (48d 07h), Banque Populaire V in 2012 (45d 13h) and Idec-Sport in 2017 (40d 23h).
As the goal is to break the record, identifying a weather system that will provide ideal conditions is as important as the boat and the crew. There were two planned starts in November but in both instances, there were no low-pressure systems forming off Brazil to propel the boat very quickly towards South Africa. Fine for Clipper, racing against each other, but not if you’re in the Jules Verne. Groupama 3 set sail on January 31 and IDEC Sport in the middle of the winter in the northern hemisphere so they’ve not written this attempt off yet. Although it’s not a given that the weather will be the same at the same time year on year.
Weather data in this situation is updated every twelve hours, provided by both American and European models. If these aren’t showing the same situation over several days, it makes sense to at least wait until they agree on a similar configuration. The data can be relied upon nowadays for ten days or more. Unless, of course, you live in the UK, when the weather forecast seems to be updated on an hourly basis.
Onto the Golden Globe, previously mentioned in Post 122 dated 25th April. So far, the Clipper 2019-20 Race has stopped for two years, but they’ve not got the record (yet?). As mentioned in Post 122, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede became not only the winner of the 2018 Golden Globe solo non-stop round the world race, but also became the oldest person in history, at 73 years old to complete such a race on January 29, 2019. The Frenchman has completed six solo circumnavigations so JD has a long way to go.
Another Golden Globe entrant was Australian Mark Sinclair, whose boat had been plagued by barnacle growth. He reached his home port of Adelaide in December 2018, just as his water supplies ran out. Although able to clean off the barnacles, he decided he’d reach Cape Horn too late in the season and so retired. Now, he’s finally set off from Adelaide to finish after 3-year hiatus: he could continue the race and become the sixth finisher of the 2018 race. The rules allow for one stop of this solo, un-assisted circumnavigation without modern electronic navigation, but the boat then is competing the Chichester Class (Sir Francis Chichester, in 1966-67, stopped once during his solo circumnavigation). The next edition of the Golden Globe Race starts on September 4, 2022 (possibly).
Onto the Ocean Race. The course for the 14th edition has been updated due to the pandemic, which has removed legs stopping in China and New Zealand. The previous plan had the course going from Cape Town to Shenzhen, China, then onto Auckland before heading for Itajaí in Brazil. As a result, this will be the longest leg in the 50 year history of the event in the Southern Latitudes: 12,750 nautical miles between Cape Town and Itajaí. This change also delays the start (from Spain) to 15th January 2023, from October 2022. From Itajaí, the race heads north to Rhode Island then crosses the Atlantic to Northern European with stops in Denmark and The Netherlands, before finishing in Italy.
The Solo ultim race is a single-handed around the world race for multi-hull boats (trimarans). It’s taken 15 years to arrange, as improvements have been made and they are now considered safe enough and capable of sailing around the world. They should be setting off at the end of 2023 so they’ve still got two years to finalise the finer details. Whether I’m still interested in such sport by then is another issue. There are six boats, most of which we saw when we were on the Isle of Wight. I have a very indistinct photo here of one, Actual. In my mind’s eye I can see a great one of Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. I mentioned this in Posts 113 (7th December 2020), 115 (12th January
Today’s final race is the Global solo challenge. Amazingly, I think this is the first time I’ve mentioned this race. It’s another single-handed race (I’m sure you guessed that from the name) but they claim one big difference. A range of boats will compete against each other, first past the post wins. In order to have a degree of fairness, different types will set off at different times over 11 weeks, starting at the beginning of September 2023 from A Coruna in Spain. The boats are from 32 to 55 feet long (compare with the Clipper fleet at 70 foot long) so quite small, and anyone can race, they are not expecting big super yachts to be built for the occasion (compare to America’s Cup where millions of dollars are spent).
That’s it for today. I do have an exciting Post to file, still working on it, of a special event we went to at the end of November. I would say it’s nothing to do with boats but that’s not quite true, as you’ll find out next time. Assuming our internet is now sorted, it might even be very soon.