Clipper 2019-20 Race Update

21 October 2020

Update from Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

The Clipper Race Organising Team has been busy behind the scenes looking at the future options available to us, for the rescheduled Clipper 2019-20 Race.

With global cases of Covid-19 rising again, it looks like it could be a tough winter for many regions of the world. With that issue in the forefront of our minds, we’ve had to make the very difficult decision that a race restart in February or April will not be possible and that the suspended race will now commence in August 2021. We want to explain the reasoning behind this.

The Philippines is currently not allowing entry to its country except for Philippine nationals and foreign nationals holding valid residency permits. In order to get the fleet ready for a February 2021 departure, our original plan was for our Maintenance Team to start working out in Subic Bay from December onwards and for them to be joined by Skippers and First Mates in January. Race Crew would then arrive early February for extended refresher training. We have not been able to secure an indication of when these travel restrictions will be lifted and with only four months to go until our intended start date (and only six months until April 2021), we are unable to take the risk that the restrictions will be lifted in time.

Yachts are currently not able to sail into China and again, we do not have a date for when this will be lifted. This also makes our ability to plan the restart and stopovers for the first half of 2021 a challenge. We want our Race Crew to have the experience that they signed up for and therefore want to stick as close to our original route as possible.

We have over 40 nationalities competing on the race and this also brings a challenge when Race Crew will be travelling to race restart from numerous locations around the world. With Covid-19 testing still not readily available, no vaccine at present and a recent spike of global infections, these were other factors that led us to the tough decision to further delay the race until August 2021.

Clipper Race logistics are a complicated puzzle to solve each edition. And the new Covid-19 measures we need to assess and implement to be able to finish our event safely have not been easy in the planning. However, although the global pandemic and its repercussions have been out of our control, we are doing everything in our power to finish the Clipper 2019-20 Race. A restart in August 2021 will mean that we can stick closer to the rescheduled race route and for returning Race Crew to have dates to work towards and plan around.

We are proposing that Leg 6 will restart on 28 August. Leg 6 is proposed to include races to all three Chinese stopovers (Sanya, Zhuhai and Qingdao) and the North Pacific crossing to Seattle, with an estimated arrival window into Seattle of 24-29 October.

It is proposed that the Leg 7 race departure will be 6 November. Leg 7 will include two races (Seattle to Panama and Panama to Bermuda) with a Panama Canal transit in between. The estimated arrival window into Bermuda is 20-22 December.

The Leg 8 race start will be on 30 December. Leg 8 will consist of two races. From Bermuda to a European stopover and then on to Race Finish off Southend, with arrival in London on 29 January 2022.

There may be some changes to the new schedule as we are working with all Host Port Partners to confirm the dates. The stopovers and Race Finish are currently subject to approval from the respective Partners’ local authorities and a full schedule will be confirmed as soon as possible.

We are committed to this race restart and helping Race Crew complete their adventure.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

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