​UNICEF and Perseverance win bonus points in Race 7 Scoring Gate

05 February 2024

The Scoring Gate results for Race 7: Endless Discovery in Ha Long Bay are in, with only two yachts taking the gamble and pocketing some bonus points. The first team across was UNICEF, crossing the Scoring Gate at 06:54:00 UTC this morning (5 February) just edging out Perseverance who crossed less than three minutes later with a time of 06:55:56 UTC.  No other teams were tempted into racing for the Scoring Gate.

A unique feature of the Clipper Race, Scoring Gates are sets of virtual marks where the first yacht to pass through secures three valuable bonus points, the second receives two and the third team through is awarded one. Racing through a Scoring Gate is optional, but the risk can pay off, with extra points potentially making a difference to the overall standings.

For this race, the Scoring Gate was positioned approximately 150nm due east of the rhumb line track and situated at 02° north, just above the Equator and right at the very fringes of the light wind area.  The Scoring Gate was approximately30nm wide, from west to east.

The fleet faced a pivotal choice: a westerly route, heading towards the gate, or a gamble to seize the elusive north easterly trades.

UNICEF and Perseverance chose to go more westerly, heading to the gate and the points, knowing that there was a risk that they would delay the influence of the trade winds in the east. 

The boats that called off their hunt for Scoring Gate points in favour of getting into the north easterly trades first, was a decision which resulted in a dramatic shift at the top of the leader board, with Dare To Lead now leading the fleet with a four-mile lead, and Zhuhai and Qingdao chasing them down.

Clipper Race Director, Mark Light said: “Two teams decided to go for the Scoring Gate and made a concerted effort for maximum bonus points, as demonstrated by a furious match race between UNICEF and Perseverance.

“Given the position of the Scoring Gate at the edge of the transition zone, between light and stronger trade winds, this was a real temptation for the teams. They had to think long and hard about the pros and cons of going for the gate or not.  Essentially, the Scoring Gate did its job successfully”.

Image: From Clipper Race Viewer at 1430 UTC

The next opportunity for teams to win bonus points is the upcoming Ocean Sprint. This is a time trial between two lines of longitude or two lines of latitude, which is set out by the Race Office. The fastest three teams gain bonus points which could make all the difference to the overall standings on the leader board.

You can keep track of the racing action on the Clipper Race Viewer.