Race Director on Race 1

08 September 2019

There are just a few hours to go until we find out which team will claim the opening win of the Clipper 2019-20 Race! And while the teams fight it out on the water, here are Race Director Mark Light's thoughts on what has been an exciting start to the circumnavigation.

Well, the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race has got off to a great start with a fantastic first race down to Portimão. Just over six days of intense racing has seen the fleet cover over 1,200nm and encountered a massive variation in sea and wind conditions already.

All eleven teams have experienced everything, from strong tidal conditions in the Thames Estuary and English channel, very light winds during the early and latter parts of the race, to strong upwind conditions for the first three days which saps energy and takes even the hardiest sailors massive efforts to keep racing hard.

Then, as they entered the notorious Bay of Biscay, came the downwind surfing conditions that everyone was waiting for. Strong winds from behind with a following sea are the racing sailors dream about and the fleet absolutely screamed down the west coast of Portugal, surfing waves and hitting speeds of up to 30 knots!! You could almost hear the cheers from land as the helms got to grips with the Clipper 70 yachts doing exactly what they are designed for.

It has been incredible to watch the Race Viewer and hear the stories from the yachts about how well the crews are developing in these early stages of the race. Being a Clipper Race Skipper is a tough job; balancing racing hard, coaching and mentoring crews, building that racing mentality and of course, running the yacht in a safe and efficient manner. It is very clear to see and hear how our Clipper Race Crews rise to the challenges and continue to perform at incredibly high levels. The development will continue at pace and our people that took on the challenge are very quickly becoming close knit racing teams – it is amazing to watch and exactly what the Clipper Race strives for.

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