After months and months of preparation, the Clipper 2019-20 Race is finally about to begin.

The first of 15 races will be from London to Portimão in Portugal. While the opening race may be short, with the fleet expected to arrive within six to eight days, it will certainly test over 200 men and women taking part in Leg 1.

After kicking off the circumnavigation with an impressive parade of sail along the iconic River Thames, taking in landmarks such as Tower Bridge and the Cutty Sark at Greenwich, the first challenge will be to negotiate numerous fast running tides around the UK and Northern France. The Bay of Biscay, notorious for violent storms and heavy seas, could prove challenging and teams will be eager to cross it quickly.

With the adrenaline-filled start over, teams will need to settle into watch systems quickly as they look to break ahead of the pack in the five day sprint to Portimão, Portugal.

While none of the teams have opted to play their Joker Card in Race 1, there is still an opportunity to earn some bonus points through the Scoring Gate and the Ocean Sprint.

The Scoring Gate is not a compulsory gate for the race but the first three yachts through the gate will be awarded three points, two points and one point respectively. It's position in the Bay of Biscay will have teams seriously debate whether or not to risk the light winds to go hunting for the extra points.

The Ocean Sprint will be another chance for extra points. The first three teams with the shortest elapsed time between the two designated positions will receive three points, two points and one point respectively.

Teams can also employ Stealth Mode once during each race. Stealth Mode will hide them from the rest of the fleet and is usually when tactically decisions are made. While the boat in Stealth Mode will be hidden from the rest of the fleet and the public, the Clipper Race Office will be in constant contact with those on board.

Marina de Portimão, in the heart of the beautiful Algarve region of Portugal, is making its debut as a Host Port in the Clipper 2019-20 Race.

The modern marina is set against the stunning backdrop of the of the São João do Arade Castle and Santa Catarina Fortress is known as the gateway to Europe and the Mediterranean. It offers one of the best boatyard facilities between Gibraltar and Madeira, and is also the last point of call for many boats preparing to cross the Atlantic.

The modern marina will provide the perfect first stopover for the Clipper Race crew, offering a chance to rest and recharge before beginning the first of their six ocean crossings - a 5,200nm race down the North and into the Southern Hemisphere to Punta del Este, Uruguay.

To learn more about the beautiful city of Portimão, see the Host Port page here.

You can follow every moment of the opening race through the Clipper Race Viewer. Be warned, it is additive!

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