​Race 7 Preview: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race to Sanya

28 January 2018

After a well-deserved break in the Whitsundays, which marks the approximate halfway point of the overall Clipper 2017-18 Race route, the eleven teams are now gearing up to return to the water for Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race to Sanya.

Teams will slip their lines from Abell Point Marina from 1200 midday local Australian time (0200 UTC), ahead of a Parade of Sail and a short course warm up race here in Pioneer Bay from 1400 local (0400 UTC).

The first Le Mans start of the 2017-18 edition, Race 7 will officially get underway some 150 nautical miles off the coast of Airlie Beach, at approximately 1200 on Tuesday 30 January (0200 UTC) as the fleet first has to navigate the Hydrographers Passage which allows teams to get across the shallow waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

Once underway, the race course will set the fleet heading north as they prepare to head back into the Northern Hemisphere, and as they sail towards the equator, temperatures will begin to soar along with the intensity of concentration required on deck as the winds become fluky and challenging in the Doldrums.

Race 7: The Forever Tropical Paradise Race to Sanya is the first of two races which form The Asia-Pacific Leg 5, which is predicted to offer some of the most varied conditions of the entire circumnavigation. 4,280 nautical miles long, teams will be tested mentally as well as physically as they adapt to a host of changing sailing and climatic conditions.

Clipper Race Director Mark Light explains: “High levels of concentration will be needed as every tweak will affect the boat speed and teams with particularly good light wind sailing skills should use this to their advantage.”

In a similar move to Leg 1, a tactical Doldrums Corridor rule has been added to this race. Visible on the Race Viewer, teams will have the option to decide to motorsail for a maximum of 4 degrees of latitude within the Doldrums Corridor, situated in the vicinity of the Solomon Sea. Full details are contained within the Race 7 Course Instructions.

Looking further ahead, Mark adds: “Approaching the equator, the fleet is likely to once again witness some spectacular lightning storms, similar to those experienced in this last race up the coast. The passing squalls can offer some much-needed relief from the heat, but can bring some heavy storm conditions with them.”

The second equator crossing of the Clipper 2017-18 Race will see the return of King Neptune and is a chance for Shellback crew to initiate their Pollywog crewmates.

Continuing north past the equator, the wind will start to build as the fleet encounters Northeast Monsoon winds where teams will be looking to gain early advantage and pull away from their competition. From here, tactics will be at play as teams enter the South China Sea, setting course for the golden sands of Sanya.

Sailing around the Philippines and into the South China Sea presents a very low piracy risk however Skippers and crew have been briefed on initial actions to take on board. In these areas the likelihood is that yachts could be approached by local fishermen attempting to sell fish and goods, rather than any serious piracy concern, though awareness is prudent.

Teams will once again have their eyes set on the bonus point opportunities that the Scoring Gate and the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint offers, and the question on which teams will opt to play their Joker Card is yet to be answered.

Laying on the southern tip of Hainan Island, the tropical paradise of Sanya awaits and promises to give crew a taste of the ‘Oriental Hawaii’. Expected to take between 23 and 27 days, the Clipper Race yachts should arrive into Sanya between 21and 25 February.

Explaining the race name choice, Sanya Vice Mayor Zhenling Xu says: “The name Forever Tropical Paradise Race was chosen to reflect Sanya’s unique tropical climate and culture.

“As a renowned domestic and international tourism destination, Sanya has abundant tropical natural resources such as its year-round balmy climate, clean air, sunshine, lush greenery, pristine seawater, soft beaches, fresh seafood, international high-end hotels and resorts. Sanya has a very profound and rich tropical island culture. Its marine culture, resort culture, Li and Miao culture form a splendid contrast to the tropical scenery, making it a unique tropical paradise in China.”

Going into the seventh of thirteen individual races, Sanya Serenity Coast leads the Clipper 2017-18 Race overall standings with 65 points, just head of Qingdao (63), which has already played its Joker Card, and Visit Seattle (60), which is the in-form team having won Race 6 into Airlie Beach. The full leaderboard, showing how the eleven teams currently sit overall in the Clipper 2017-18 Race, is kept up-to-date on the Clipper Race website.

Watch out on the Clipper Race: LIVE Facebook page to see the teams slip their lines off the dock ahead of Race 7 start on Monday 29 January 2018 from 1200 local time (0200 UTC) ahead of the warm up course.

Once the fleet reaches the Race 7 start position, Unicef Skipper Bob Beggs will lead the Le Mans start as directed by the Clipper Race Director Mark Light.

Wishing you could be out on the start line in Airlie Beach, too? Well now you can, virtually, from the comfort of your own armchair; in fact, wherever you are with an internet link, via laptop, tablet or mobile.

The Clipper Race has teamed up once again with the world’s leading and most experienced team of digital yacht racing game experts at Virtual Regatta and after a competitive Race 6, the virtual ocean racing platform is once again ready for the start of Race 7. Full details of all the features and how to play are available in the game website.

Join The Race