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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-02-09

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

Local News Report  - Mobile Page


Clipper Race - Liverpool, UK, to Punta del Este, Uruguay Update
Report and photos by Patrick Trollope.

THE Clipper race is well underway, after negotiating numerous fast moving tides which flow around the UK and Northern France, the fleet has left Europe behind, passing the rugged volcanic Spanish isles, the Canary Islands, and its popular tourist destination, Santa Cruz De Tenerife. Leg 1 of the race is the longest ever leg of the Clipper Race in its 11 sections. After passing 'The Bay of Biscay,' an area which is considered to be 1 of the most dangerous and unpredictable waters in the world, with rough seas and violent storms that can put vessels at risk, Qingdao is leading the way, but anything could happen.

Sadly for team Greenings, their Skipper, David Hartshorn, was injury and the crew had to put him in the sea to allow a rescue team to pick him up.  They amateur team then had to sail off with out him.  The Race Committee then confirmed it is awarding "redress" to Greenings as it was then forced diversion to Porto for a replacement Skipper. The total time to redress is 2 days, 10 hours, 44 minutes and 51 seconds.  This move had to be done for the safety of the team. In accordance with the Clipper Race Sailing Instructions (24e) "no redress will be given for medical evacuations," but in line with 24b it was decided that under the circumstances, Greenings could not continue racing without the Skipper on board.  After being forced to divert to Porto after the completion of the medevac, the tem resumed racing.  All of us at Southport and Mersey Reporter wish Greenings luck and David Hartshorn a swift recovery.

For the other teams, they also still cannot relax, as now they face new challenges and the crews' 1st major tactical decision of the Leg plays out, as the fleet approaches the Cape Verde Islands. The team's choices: whether to sail to the East, West, or straight through the Canary Islands, can have a major factor on the vessels' overall finishing positions. Pick the wrong route and teams will get stuck in the lee of the land, watching the rest of the Clipper Race teams accelerate away. The only Joker played on Race 1 was by the Clipper Great Britain, who are currently in 2nd place, with both Sanya Serenity Coast and Liverpool 2018 not far behind.

This year a new tactical addition was added, called the Joker Card, which can only be used once and must be declared at the start of a Leg. This Joker played on Leg 1, by Great Britain, will potentially help them to climb ahead early in the leader board, as it doubles all race points won in that particular stage, not including bonus points. As Great Britain team has decided to play it on the opening race, with 12 Legs still ahead, could be a tactical stroke of genius or have they wasted it? Only time will tell.

As the fleet move off from the coast of North Western Africa and deeper into the Atlantic Ocean, the will arrive in an area, Doldrums Corridor, otherwise known as the 'Inter Tropical Convergence Zone' (ITCZ). The notoriously light winds of the Doldrums will put teams both mentally and physically to the test, as they battle the challenging conditions, which will see them making slow progress if they get stuck in fluky wind holes. If you do not already know, the ITCZ is a low pressure belt near the Equator, where the North Easterly and South Easterly Trade Winds come together, which often creates extremely flat conditions for sailing. It is also a region on Earth that experiences increased precipitation, due to convectional lifting that is responsible for the wet and dry seasons in the tropics. These conditions often result in heavy squall activity which can add to or cancel out the wind. As a result, the Clipper Race Rules allow each yacht to use its engine for a maximum of 6 degrees of latitude or an elapsed time of 60 hours, whichever occurs 1st, within that area. This was introduced as a way of avoiding the fleet being trapped for many days, as happened back in the 2013-14 race. If they are not within that area, they will find it hard going, with slow progress ahead of them, due to the conditions within that area. Not only will they have heavy squalls, but they will also have to brave high temperatures, making it even more challenging for the crew as they try to keep the yacht moving.

Then for a bit of fun, if weather conditions allow, the crews will be able to take part in 1 of sailings' oldest traditions, known as the:- 'Equator crossing ceremony,' 'Line Crossing Ceremony' or 'King Neptune Ceremony' where crew members crossing the equator for the first time have to "Kiss the Fish." This is a tradition that was seemingly invented by the Vikings, when passing over the 30th parallel. So who do you think will be the 1st Clipper over the equator as the crews turn from Pollywog crews into Shellback crews (ie new sailors who have never crossed the equator become experienced sailors who has crossed the equator).

Currently Irma, a Category 3 hurricane, is crossing the Atlantic Ocean, towards the United States with yet another wave (tropical storm) that has just pushed off the African coast behind it. These storms show what patterns the teams might face as they head on South. It is too early to say what potential weather patterns will affect them in the South Atlantic, as they move towards the South American Coast in what is defined as the Hurricane Season, officially 1 June to 30 November. This year, meteorologists think this year's season could be the longest hurricane season on record, because of a delay in the onset of El Ni?, which may increase the number of tropical storms and hurricanes forming the Atlantic. When El Ni? occurs, it typically creates strong winds from the West, within the mid-levels of the atmosphere, which leads to an early demise of tropical storms. So let's hope as the crews conduct the 'Line Crossing Ceremony' King Neptune grants them the onset of El Ni?, or it might not be plain sailing ahead for the crews.

Then the teams will venture ever further South, on the Easterly Trade Winds, they will head to Punta del Este, Uruguay, where they will make land fall, after spending an estimated 35 days at sea. This will be an amazing time for the crews as it's the port's debut as a 'Host Port' and locals are extremely eager to offer them a truly warm welcome.

You can track the fleet's progress hourly, 24/7, on the highly addictive Clipper Race Viewer and we will bring you more updates as the race progresses.

Email us with who you think will be the 1st team to cross the 30th parallel, via:-


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Southport Reporter (R) Bourder




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