The race that will see the eleven-strong Clipper Race fleet cross the North Pacific Ocean has officially begun.

Due to very light winds and low visibility, the Le Mans start was postponed from 0800 Local Time / 0000 UTC to 1000 Local Time/ 0200 UTC, as decided by Lead Skipper Ineke Van Der Weijden, to ensure a safe and smooth start to the race.

A Le Mans Start differs from a classic line start and allow the fleet to commence a race offshore, without a Race Committee. A Lead Skipper is drawn to co-ordinate the start, and for Race 10 it was Perseverance Skipper Ineke Van Der Weijden selected to lead the start of Race 10.

Once the lead boat is decided it takes the most central position in the fleet as it lines up, and then the positioning of the remaining ten boats is purely down to luck with teams being drawn during the final Crew Brief in port and placed in order from the windward side to leeward.

Here’s what Ineke had to say about the Le Mans start:

"After a 2-hour delay due to light winds and bad visibility, Race 10 got on its way at 0200 UTC. Light wind starts are always challenging, add to that some reduced visibility and that makes for an interesting mix, certainly for my first time as Lead Skipper. But the fleet did a great effort on the line up and it all went according to plan. Now, 25 minutes into the race, the fleet has already shown vastly different strategies with regards to sail plan and course, although boat speeds remain very low across the fleet. All in all, a slow start to a long race. Next stop: Seattle."

Image: Foggy conditions delay Race 10 Le Mans Start

Hear from the Race Skippers as Race 10 began:

Zhuhai Skipper, James Finney: “Well here we go! After an interesting Le Mans start (we could only see three other boats!) that was very well fielded by ,Ineke we have started our epic Leg 6 journey across the North Pacific. There are fluctuating levels of excitement and apprehension on board about the challenge that is laid out before us now. However, I know this crew are more than capable of meeting any challenge this leg might greet us with. Personally, Im just hoping this crossing is a bit faster than my last in the Clipper 2019-2020 Race which has the dubious distinction of being the event’s longest ever race!”

Bekezela Skipper, David Hartshorn: “We are off. For a lot of the fleet, the whole of the race to date has been preparation for this moment, the start of Race 10. In A thick fog covered a light-wind kissed Yellow Sea, and we have started to head towards our ultimate test as a team, and for ourselves individually: the North Pacific. Once the ten minutes after Race Start was called by Ineke, the Code 1 was hoisted and the Yankee 1 came down. It was a well-run and smooth evolution with an excellent display of teamwork. The fleet did its own thing and soon all had disappeared in the fog, the only reason we knew we were sailing in close proximity to others was the echoes of other crews calling trim, floating out of the fog. There is a quiet feel of purpose onboard Bekezela, CV22, formerly Seattle on the 2019-20 edition. I am wearing my Sea Hawks Beanie and it feels that this is a home port run for us.”

Qingdao Skipper, Philip Quinn: “Hito all from the start of Race 10 as we leave our hometown for Seattle. So, we’ve just started Race 10 with another Le Mans start. An interesting one carried out in very low visibility with fog all around. We could only see some of the boats but got off the line nicely and at the minute we are doing well towards the front of the fleet. As soon as our mandatory ten minutes of all steering the same course, we all hoisted our big spinnaker sails and headed off towards our first mark. Well done Ineke for organising a good start in the fog. Let's hope we can do well and push towards Seattle. Lots more work to be done but we’re all up for it!”

Image: View from Perseverance as the teams wait in line for the Le Mans start

Washington, DC Skipper Hannah Brewis: “We are making way and underway. The race was delayed a couple of hours due to the lack of wind but at 1000LT we all got in line and the race was started. At least we think we were in line, as the fog was so thick we could just about see the boat next to us. Ineke, Skipper of Perseverance, led a good Le Mans despite not being able to see half the fleet. We were the windward boat, which was good as it meant we only needed to worry about the boat on our starboard, not so good as the general direction was a bare away. As we couldn’t see anyone, we thought instantly bearing away towards an entire Clipper Race fleet and hoisting a kite in thick fog was not the smartest, so we held our course slightly longer. It means that some boats managed to wiggle away slightly better. If only the race was 5000nm long to make up for it!”

Yacht Club Punta del Este Skipper Nano Antia: “What an unforgettable Le Mans start we had. No visibility whatsoever, we could barely see two boats next to us, it was like a pirate's movie. After the ten minutes we all hoisted spinnakers and bore away, and it was tricky to avoid getting close to the other boats. We managed ok with a lot of teamwork. You could see the top of their spinnakers but not the hull of the boat. After a close battle with PSP Logistics for the windward position we managed to defend, we gybed and now we are going southeast avoiding fishing vessels in the fog! Very demanding! We couldn't have thought about a better start for this dream race! Bring it on!”

Dare To Lead Skipper, Ryan Gibson: “We have just started an interesting Race 10 Le Mans Start outside Qingdao in lots of fog and very light winds. However, we are very excited about the race ahead and had a nice smooth start. Shortly after the start the fog started clearing and one by one the fleet appeared making for a dramatic affect!”

UNICEF Skipper, Dan Bodey: “Race 10 is underway. The start was one of the more eerie ones we have done with visibility being less that 0.5 of a nm, we couldn't see the whole line up. Thanks to Ineke who organised this one and got us all moving in the right direction. With the light winds it was a challenge and now we have turned our backs to the wind and Qingdao as we hoisted our spinnaker and turned towards the Mighty Pacific Ocean.”

PSP Logistics Skipper, Mike Miller: “After a couple of delays while we waited for the wind, the race got underway in thick fog, with the other boats appearing and disappearing as the mist swirled around us. The crew stayed really focussed, the sails went up smoothly, and PSP Logistics got one of its best starts of the race so far. On on!”

Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam Skipper, Bob Beggs: “Our Le Mans start this race was a foggy affair, delayed due to no wind and fog and then once commenced, each of the boats were barely able to see the ones next to them. Despite this, the Lead Skipper, Ineke Van Der Weijden, did a very impressive job of calling the start and the line was straight as ever, even through the lens of AIS. After the ten- minute call, when each of the boats can deviate from course and the chosen fleet sail plan, it seemed there was a tacit, unanimous agreement that all of the boats would opt for a Code 1 and as the fog cleared, we saw the rest of the fleet emerge in full downwind force. UNICEF gybed first and then one by one so did everyone else.

“Thank you very much to all of the people in Qingdao for such an incredible display of enthusiasm for the Clipper Race but a special thanks goes to all of the maintenance team for putting in such a shift in such a short amount of time to prepare us for, in my opinion, the best leg of the whole race.”

Our Isles and Oceans Skipper, Max Rivers: “A good race start facilitated by Ineke, very, very tricky conditions barely allowing us to see the boats either side of us. We opted to play it safe to start with in the close proximity of the other vessels and stayed under Yankee 1 until the fog lifted a small amount allowing us to gybe south and hoist our Code 1 to match the rest of the fleet. Since then, we have been trudging along under Code 1 with some very attentive eyes watching out the boat and some even more attentive eyes watching the radar for any sign of movement ahead.”

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