Race Viewer addiction is real. The Clipper Race Office team has been glued to the tracker and has shared insight into what has happened over the past 48 hours of racing and the conditions likely to be faced in the next 24 hours.

Says Mark Light, Clipper Race Director: “The initial split in the fleet was a little to do with making use of the tide around the headland (Start Point) but much more to do with the three teams in the north, trying to create a better or faster wind angle as they reach down across the easterly wind.  Perseverance did really well out of this move and went clear ahead of the fleet as the team engineered a great heading to get around Ushant and the northwest tip of France.”

Image: Perseverance, taken by OBR Tiger

Deputy Race Director, Dale Smyth continues: “The last 24 hours has seen the fleet heading down the channel and around Ushant in fantastic sailing conditions. The natural split in the fleet is always to be expected when boats are heading up or downwind with different teams choosing the left or right of the course. Whilst Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam and Bekezela chose to stay right further to the north of the course, it didn’t however seem to have paid off much.”

“The whole fleet has transitioned into the new system coming up from the south. This is centred about 500 miles offshore and with the counter clockwise rotation has plunged the fleet headlong into upwind conditions with lightning heralding the front of this system. The Bay of Biscay is entirely in the lee of these southerlies so any teams heading for the scoring gate will avoid the brunt of the strong headwinds but possibly fall into the trap of unpredictable and variable winds. The next 24 hours will see some lumpy, wet and rather tough conditions for the fleet so spinnakers are now firmly packed below and reefs put in for those heading for Finisterre.”

Image: The fleet is now into some tricky upwind conditions. Image by OBR Tiger.

It has been announced by the Clipper Race Committee that Qingdao has inadvertently broken the 2nm Exclusion Zone from land (clearly laid out in the Course Instructions) when passing to the north of the Channel Island of Alderney.

Although this had been reported, the Clipper Race Office was already aware as they constantly monitor the fleet progress, and the transgression is clearly visible on the Race Viewer.  The team on board have been asked to verify and send an image of its closest point of approach to Alderney and has acknowledged and confirmed that this did indeed happen, and subsequently provided photographic evidence.  The transgression took place at 0355 UTC on Monday 04 September 2023.

The team has been unable to provide any mitigating factors, and therefore, there is no option but to apply a six hour time penalty (as stated in the Course Instructions).

Although this is clearly an oversight, it is an expensive one on such a short race.  It is, however, worth emphasising that although the team has contravened the Exclusion Zone set out in the Course Instructions, it was still clear of land by approximately 1nm and did not put the team into a dangerous or difficult situation.

The six hour time penalty is the minimum that can be applied to this type of incident, and it will be added to the team’s finishing time to calculate its finishing position for Race 1.  The Clipper Race Fleet has all been informed.

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