Race 12: Come Sea DC Cup got underway today, 7 June, at 1700 UTC. Commencing offshore by means of a Le Mans Start, the starting procedure was managed by nominated Lead Skipper Nano Antia Bernardez from on board Yacht Club Punta del Este.

He reported: “Race 12 is on! The fleet started the race at 17:00:00 UTC [12:00:00 LT] after a successful Le Mans Start, at the position Lat 13 04.030'N Long 078 01.474'W. We have 13 knots of wind, on a slight sea state. Qingdao and Dare To Lead had a very good start and are currently leading the fleet.”

IMAGE: The Race 12 Le Mans starting order

The fleet left Panama two days ago following its Panama Canal transits and has since motor-sailed 245nm through an area of light wind to rendezvous in the start area (13°00.000N, 078°00.000W). Light easterly winds shifting to north easterlies, meant the conditions were good for a successful and clean start.

Speaking just after the official start of Race 12: Come Sea DC Cup, Qingdao Skipper Philip Quinn reported: “We’ve just started Race 12 with another Le Mans Start. We got off the line nicely, despite being at the very end of the line-up. At the minute we are doing well, towards the front of the fleet and heading to Washington. Thanks to Nano for organising a good start. Let's hope we can do well and push hard through the Caribbean islands to the finish. Lots more work to be done but we’re all up for it! Go Dragons!”

Photo: Skipper Hannah Brewis

Hannah Brewis, Skipper of Washington, DC, is finally leading her team towards its home port. Minutes after crossing the Start Line, Hannah said: “And just like that, Race 12 has started. A very well organised Le Mans Start by Nano on Yacht Club Punta del Este had us all racing to hoist sails at 1200 local time on the dot.

“We had a good start, but after the 10 minutes of holding course, we suffered from the dirty air of the boats surrounding us, leaving us stalling whilst others sailed on. But after a few minutes we found some clean air and got moving. Next stop Washington, DC!”

Skipper on board Bekezela, David Hartshorn was frank about getting back to the business of ocean racing! David said: “After a welcome few days of R&R in Panama, in which the team indulged in showers, air-conditioned accommodation, and some great meals in Panama Old Town, we are back to why we are here - sailing. We are racing towards Washington, DC in a light breeze of around 12kts, from around east/northeast. We had a good position in the starting line, for the Le Mans Start, second from windward. The practices we have done over the previous couple of days have paid off and we are getting a decent speed. A relaxed but determined atmosphere on board.”

Keeping it short and sweet because it was all about the racing, Skipper Dan Bodey on board UNICEF said: “Race 12 is now underway after motoring out from Panama to find some wind. It’s nice to be sailing again. Nano organised a brilliant start, the whole fleet sailing along on the same course is a great way to start the race. The team is buzzing and hoping to do well in the drag race to the Windward Passage between Haiti and Cuba.”

The team on board PSP Logistics were more than happy with their start, as Skipper Mike Miller said: “PSP's luck continued to run, as we drew a favoured position again for the Le Mans Start. We are well at the front of the fleet as we start our upwind blast across the Caribbean. After a long motor from Panama to escape the windless doldrums, it is fantastic to be sailing and racing again. On on!!”

Game faces firmly on Dare To Lead as Skipper Ryan Gibson reported: “We had an amazing Le Mans Start, being the windward boat on this one gave us a lot of room and fresh breeze allowing us to quite quickly jump forward on the fleet. The crew are ecstatic and raring to go for the rest of the race. I just came down to go into watches and was greeted by Retief who promptly asked me where I was going and why I needed sleep given it's only a 10-day race, I think that sums up the attitudes on board pretty well…”

Skipper Ineke Van de Weijden on board Perseverance said soon after this afternoon’s start: “After a wonderful time in Panama, and an interesting transit through the Panama Canal we are now off on Race 12 to Washington, DC. Nano did a great job of managing the Le Mans Start and we are currently all kind of doing the same course and similar speed towards the first waypoint off Jamaica.

“We have found it a bit difficult to find our speed so far, but hey, it has only been an hour or so. And it certainly isn't because of lack of trying. The team is all over trimming and helming the best they can, so I am sure Perseverance will gather steam soon enough.”

Feeling fresh and ready to race, Skipper Max Rivers on Our Isles and Oceans said from the Start Line: “We are very excited to be back in the Atlantic Ocean. The transit through the Panama Canal was a lovely affair, with only some light rain to dampen the spirits. Thanks to both of our amazing pilots for making it as seamless as possible. A good motor out to the Race Start area got us in the racing mindset and spirit. With 1,400nm of racing until we get to see DC.

“A brilliant Les Mans Start facilitated by Nano and Yacht Club Punta del Este, with a great start from Our Isles and Oceans. We are feeling good. In the process of getting the trim locked in we lost some ground, but managing to hold with the fleet at the moment. Still a long way to go and the heat is unrelenting. Here's to race 12: Come Sea DC Cup!”

Yacht Club Punta del Este Skipper Nano has also reported that the offshore start had spectators - something that is very rare for a Le Mans Start. He explains: “We had a very good surprise of a Tall Ship flying a giant Uruguayan flag on its stern. The tree masts vessel is the Tall Ship School VE Capitan Miranda, which showed up just before the Race Start as we were getting in line. I had a very good conversation with the captain who, with its crew, had the pleasure to witness the Clipper Race Le Mans Start.”

The 1,560nm race is expected to take the teams 10-12 days. They have to navigate through the Caribbean Sea, Windward Passage, and up the USA’s East Coast to the Finish Line outside of Chesapeake Bay.

The teams that manage to negotiate themselves into the lead when clearing the Caribbean Islands and getting out into the North Atlantic will likely gain a huge advantage. With the Scoring Gate and the Ocean Sprint as options for bonus points, there is a lot to gain in Race 12. As places on the overall leaderboard are so tight, competition is going to be fiercer than ever.

The Washington, DC stopover awaits, with the fleet expected to arrive at the Wharf between 17-19 June. For the Clipper Race’s first visit to the US Capital City, check out what’s on during the stopover.

Let the Race Viewer watch party commence.

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