Race 2 wrap: The Commodore’s Cup from Portimao to Punta del Este
Race 2: The Commodore’s Cup was a true test of endurance, skill and nerve. 28 days of intense racing covering over 5,100 nautical miles, the race started in Portimão on 15 September.
After an incredible inshore start from Marina de Portimão, where spectator vessels flocked to see the spectacle, the initial stages saw the fleet tackling light winds as the skippers and crew had a decision of whether to keep west, closer to the rhumb line and wait for the forecasted wind to fill or to gybe southeasterly in search of land breeze off the coast of Morocco.
After these fairly light winds Tropical Storm Lorenzo passed over the front of the fleet bringing strong winds and the resulting big seas a real taste of what Mother Nature can throw at them.
It was then west across the Atlantic Ocean with the Intertropical Convergence Zone, known by sailors as the Doldrums, in the fleet’s path. A tactical decision of when to utilise the Doldrums Corridor and motor-sail posed an interesting question for the fleet. With tactics heating up, so were the temperatures as teams got closer to the equator, multiple sail changes and gybes were reported across the fleet in order to maximise speed and direction.
Race 2 included one of the first major milestones of the Clipper 2019-20 Race edition - crossing the equator for the first time; the crew went from polliwogs to trusty shellbacks following their encounters with King Neptune and his court.
Once through the Doldrums, it was then down the coast of Brazil with the fleet firmly fixed on reaching Punta del Este and there were bonus points up for grabs.
After such an intense race the finish did not disappoint. Finishing in thrilling fashion Race 2 podium saw a Chinese one two with Qingdao taking top spot and Visit Sanya, China second. A tightly fought battle played out between the two in the latter stages. A jostle for the win ensued and it was the Qingdao team which clinched victory, crossing the finish line at 15:35:46UTC. After its game of cat and mouse, Visit Sanya took second place, crossing the finish line into Punta del Este at 20:10:55UTC. The team had led the Clipper Race pack for much of Race 2 but over the last 24 hours of racing, Qingdao pulled ahead.
Says Chris Brooks, Qingdao Skipper: “It feels amazing to have won the race down to Punta del Este. The crew has worked so hard and I’m very proud of them.
“It could have been either us or Visit Sanya, China in first place – they played an amazing hand and were leading the race most of the way. It was snakes and ladders on the course all the time.
“Going through the Doldrums and the equator it was really hot below deck. The conditions haven’t been great, but the team are so strong and rock solid – all there to help each other out and that is the ethos we want to keep on the boat throughout the race round the world.”
Vietnamese team Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, led by Josh Stickland, secured its first podium win taking third place and completing the podium for Race 2.
It wasn’t even over for the rest of the fleet as they experienced a meteorological phenomenon and lightning storm with gusts up to 80 knots. The final couple of days at sea rounded off a remarkably varied race. On arrival every team received a warm welcome from Yacht Club Punta del Este with hundreds of people turning out no matter the time of day to celebrate the teams achievements.