Monday 1 February - Update on Race Course Extension

Following questions, Race Chairman Sir Robin Knox Johnston, has provided additional details on the other options considered before deciding to extend the current course.

We explained that Da Nang has its Tet Festival ahead of the fleet's arrival window and closes down completely during this time, along with the rest of Vietnam. Also many of the crew’s visas do not start until the 17th. If the boats did go in earlier, which they are unable to, their temporary visas last for only 15 days anyway, which would not allow them to stay in time for the Race Start on 27 February.

Sir Robin said: “We could not divert the fleet to the Philippines to use up time in somewhere like San Fernando and put in another leg in the race, as we do not have crew visas to allow entry there either. We do not know of an anchorage in Vietnamese waters we might have temporarily berthed the fleet, and in any case this could have led to problems with the authorities.

“Hong Kong was a bit too far off and in any case the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club typhoon basin is a building site for the new roadway and lacks sufficient water for our fleet. Their alternative berthing has a rather shaky pontoon which caused concerns last race when just three of our boats were alongside when I dealt with their forestay problems.

"Thus, Race Director Justin Taylor and I took the decision to extend the race to use up the excess time as the most practical solution, and also enabled us to maintain the number of days racing originally anticipated. The advantage of the route we have chosen is that in the event of the Monsoonal winds easing, they begin to do about now, we can shorten course on the South West going leg, and we will be monitoring the fleets progress because of this."

Original Race Committee Statement:

After passing through the Doldrums in just four days, compared to nine in the last race, and having maintained blistering average speeds since, the fleet is making such good progress in the Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race that it is now ahead of its estimated arrival window to Da Nang by a number of days, which poses a unique issue for the Clipper Race Committee.

Due to Tet New Year and its extensive national holiday which takes place just ahead of the Clipper Race arrival window, it is not possible to re-arrange customs assistance during this period. Many crew also have Vietnamese visas starting on 17 February, whilst most who don’t require visas are only legally allowed to stay in the country for a maximum of 15 days.

In order to maintain schedule, the Race Committee is extending the course by approximately 1200 miles, or six days of sailing. This will ensure the fleet arrives at the front end of the 17 to 21 February arrival window and still benefits from that ‘extra’ time in port.

The new route will take the fleet further north, past the Philippines to a waypoint just south of Taiwan. From there the teams will race south and then make their way back up the coast of Vietnam.

Progress will be closely monitored and if the Race Committee sees any possibility of delay due to light conditions, the course can be shortened to ensure there is no possibility of arriving late into Da Nang.

The Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race was expected to take 32 days to complete due to previous editions slow progress in the region. If the fleet arrives on 17 February that will be 30 days at sea, so still quicker than expected.

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