​Final leg of the Clipper 2019-20 Race off to a start

20 June 2022

Leg 8: The Atlantic Homecoming leg, which is the final stage of the Clipper 2019-20 Race, began at 1800 Local Time (2100 UTC) by way of a Le Mans Start. Race 13 is the first instalment of Leg 8- a sprint of approximately 700nm to New York from the island paradise of Bermuda.

Following a fabulous send off, the fleet proceeded to the Le Mans Start area offshore, around 2.5 miles southeast of St George’s Lighthouse. The fleet lined up under engine ready for the start, with Rob Graham, Skipper of Imagine your Korea as the lead Skipper, who coordinated the line up and Race Start. He said:

“After a hugely enjoyable stopover in Bermuda, it's time for the Clipper Race to move on to New York. Parading around Hamilton's picturesque harbour and the Great Sound made an impressive sight. Once safely clear of Bermuda's protective reef, we could see the expected weather front approaching (and some of Bermuda disappearing in showers), but it held off long enough for the Le Mans Start.

“The fleet found lively conditions for the start with 17-20 knots of south-south west wind, with a lumpy 1-1.5m swell. This made keeping start formation tricky but the fleet managed it well. Our sail plan was Yankee 3, Staysail, and one reef in the main. From our lead boat position in the middle of the line, we saw the leeward half get away to a slightly faster start than the windward boats, with everyone quickly up to around 9kn on our agreed course over ground of 140. Zhuhai was first to tack off, soon followed by the rest of the fleet.”

The teams sent in reports of the Le Mans Start action:

David Hartshorn, Seattle Skipper

“The crew worked hard to make most of our windward start. The Yankee 3 and staysail went up nice and smoothly then followed a quick transition into sheeting on. We were the second boat to tack over on a port tack, followed quickly by a lot of the other boats. Overall we were pretty happy with our start and are hoping to build on it over the next few days as we head to New York.”

Chris Brooks, Qingdao Skipper

“Race start was a well paced, upwind start. We had our sail plan as Reef 1 and Yankee 3, as we were in the middle of the pack. We managed to get upwind of the fleet as we shook the Reef 1 to full main early, and we are imminently set for rounding Virtual Mark Nano and we are starting to push the 650 mile or so sprint to NYC, luckily with more breeze than we expected so far.”

Mary Vaughn-Jones, Visit Sanya, China First Mate

Bermuda presented a completely different forecast for this start than the finish of the last race. Motoring out we were all umming and ahhing about the choice of a Yankee 3 for the start, with only 12 knots of breeze present. However, the Ginger Mountain (Rob Graham’s nickname) was proved incredibly correct as we had winds of up to 20 knots on the nose following the start. Our hanked on Yankee 1s are all still lying on the deck with only a few of us having currently shaken the reef.

After a lovely stopover, what feels like the Clipper Race really back in the groove, the crew were sad to say goodbye, yet keen to get back racing. At the moment we're sitting in what Mr Miller calls the 'pointy end' of the fleet, but we're all very much battling it out with each tack having a different boat accelerate through. Thank you Bermuda, I'm sure we'll be back but for now onwards to New York!

Jeronimo Santos Gonzales, Punta del Este Skipper

After a windy Parade of Sail next to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and a sail exhibition in the Great Sound, race course once of the America's Cup, we had an even windier, all hands on deck type of Le Mans Start.

The crew was excited about this sprint race to New York and energised after a well rested stopover in Bermuda. We appointed the right jobs for the right crew, to hoist the headsails, to trim them and we did a practice run to get the new joiners a good welcome training.

Even getting into line got a bit tricky with the strong wind and the sails but the lead boat put us all in our place. Then the time came to start racing and Punta del Este started running from the beginning in these challenging conditions.

Max Rivers, GoToBermuda First Mate

A brilliant race start run by Imagine your Korea, thank Rob, Unfortunately we had a number of issues In the race start including Yankee 3 downhaul causing a lot of friction, halting our yankee hoist, and the Staysail not being ground on quickly meaning that we lost a lot of speed at the go, falling back in the fleet.

Shortly after the start we shook the reef out for more power and have been tacking round the back of Bermuda dodging the shore and other vessels. Now the front has passed over we are looking upwind for the next while towards the Big Apple.

Conditions are expected to be tricky for this race, so each of the yachts will be battling hard and focusing on tactics to ensure a strong position. The fleet is expected to arrive in Liberty Landing Marina on 23-24 June. Catch all the action on the Race Viewer.

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